Asian Tsunami Disaster - How BEST to Help!

Prof. Hudson McLean

In our own way, immediately after the disaster, our friends and associates in USA, EU, started to initiate a programme to assist the victims.

Personal calls and emails activated by volunteers packed several containers which are on their way to Colombo.

We are also deploying other programmes to assist the psychological well being to help those who have lost the most vital assets, their families.

We are encouraged by the fact that Lanka Web readers have taken up the question of building the orphanages, an absolutely critical project to help the children. We will certainly support that initiative. (See our appeal below)

Another aspect we wish to place for consideration, is the planning of construction of low cost housing for the poor. When planning, it may be worth considering to build small interwoven communities of 500 families, with access to other facilities.

Community "Theme" centres with creches and cooperative workshops where persons who have lost family as well as work, may restart their lives together. Tailors who may offer a cheap sewing services, tea shops and food stalls will generate a new service industry, create employment, in a stand-alone environment. Carpenters, builders, handicraft skills may have prospects for years to come, with the reconstruction.

Rural communities may have different "Themes" and values, such as home mini-farms etc.

Donors Please Note - Items which may be useful-;
1: Sewing machines (electric & non-electric)
2: Carpentry tools
3: Light tools for construction
4: Industrial cooking utensils for small cafés
5: Motoring repair tools & equipment

Importation of finished components must be kept to a minimum, only during the immediate start-up and the local skills should be given the priority task of added value re-building.

Donor countries are more inclined to provide a comprehensive structure of a community cooperative to cater for infants to middle ages to grand parents, who all may contribute to the development of the community.

Where possible and practical, communities should be mixed, inter-racial, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, and assist the community to live together as a large family. Ghettos, which are the breeding grounds of all conflicts, should be avoided. Such communities must be given the opportunity to manage themselves, by giving assistance in leadership development to create independent self-sufficiency.

Following is an excerpt of the mailing which we sent-;

1: Water containers, Water storage containers, Water Purification Equipment and Products, Tube Wells for long term use.
2: Cooking utensils
3: Propane Gas Cookers
4: Toilets, Sanitary equipment
5: Torch lights, batteries,
6: First Aid Kits
7: Mosquito Nets
8: Clothes - Please note that European garments are
neither comfortable nor practical. Fashions and sizes
do not suit the local needs.

Please DO NOT SEND any toys at this stage, which only take time and space!!!!

The best is to donate CASH generously, but preferably to the Sri Lanka President's Fund, United Nations led organizations such as OXFAM, INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS, UNICEF, SAVE THE CHILDREN FUND, and CHURCHES.

Do not send European clothes or blankets etc. Medical supplies are taken care of by the RED CROSS etc. These unwanted or unsuitable gifts are only creating problems for Sri Lanka Customs Authority.

Furthermore, with fuel in short supply and roads under destruction, it has become a logistical nightmare for distribution.

1: Construction and Rehabilitation-: This is major and an immediate need to rehouse those one million who have lost their property.

The recycling of old building material on-site (a highly developed EU technology) to produce pre-cast, pre-fabricated low cost housing.

Sanitation, water purification, logistics should play an important priority role.

2: Sponsorships of Orphans - 550+ children who lost their parents-; These children need care, both physical and psychological. Ideally, they should stay within their own communities.

Construction of orphanages and assisting in their well being should be a collective responsibilities. At least several parents risked their lives to save the lives of the tourists and guests.

3: Main Infrastructure Re Construction-; The infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and railway lines need permanent repairs.

Donation of heavy construction equipment directly to
the SLG appropriate Ministry.

The list is endless. Time is running short! Many lives are currently hanging on a thread!

Even during the disaster, the generocity and hospitality of the average Sri Lankans were the talking point. Many of those poor, helped the foreign guests, at their own peril, sacrificing their own safety.

The Most Important Point.

The United Nations should now draw up a Plan of Action for Maintaining Transparency and Supervision of hundreds of millions of cash dollars flooding into Sri Lanka.

A multi-party working committee with representatives from UN agencies must ensure that the funds would be channeled into those projects to re-build the shattered lives of the poor victims, but not for government officials to fund their expensive Call-girls and to build multi-million dollar mansions!

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