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from Rosanna Flamer-Caldera <> Colombo, Sri Lanka

Date: January 3, 2005 1:56:44 AM EST


In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy that engulfed Sri Lanka last
week, EQUAL GROUND has appealed for emergency funds to assist with the
relief efforts currently underway in this country. Our organization is
not huge, however it has the enthusiasm and the willingness of its
members and Board of Trustees that share a common vision with the rest
of the country - to alleviate the misery of the people affected by the
tsunami and assist them to find shelter, food, medical aid and clean
drinking water. We also hope to find the means to help them cope with
the huge psychological scars they have sustained from this enormous

The relief efforts so far, without exaggeration, have been by
individuals and small organizations like EQUAL GROUND who have
volunteered their services and purchased essential items with money from
their own accounts. However, it needs more resources than what it has
currently to cope with the magnitude of the disaster and assist victims
to survive the next few weeks and rebuild their lives in the long term.
Members of EQUAL GROUND have not only given of their time and energy to
volunteer for relief efforts, but have also spent their own money buying
essentials like medicine and food to be sent to the North, East and
South of the country. Currently, EQUAL GROUND works with the Foundation
for Coexistence (FCE) which together with several other NGOs has formed
a coalition to send relief to the affected areas.

They are currently pooling their resources to buy food, medicines and
other essential items to be sent particularly to the largely Tamil East
which is not getting as much relief as the largely Singhala South.
Donations are also received by these organizations of money, food and
items such as clothing, matches, candles, lamps and so on from
individuals who wish to lend a hand. Even people who are very poor
themselves are handing donations for the relief effort. A woman, who
works as a domestic, donated Rs.200 (roughly ten percent of her monthly

EQUAL GROUND is not only helping with finding funds for the relief
effort, it is also assisting in the mobilization and coordination of
volunteers to help with unloading the trucks, bagging the food and
reloading the trucks for dispatch to the earmarked areas.
Example 1: Three days ago, we received a call from a group of relatives
and friends who are in Arugum Bay (on the east coast). They have
converted their guest house into a makeshift hospital. They sent an SOS
to us because the "hospital" was running out of diesel to support the
power generators. They were also running out of medical supplies.
Within a day, we were able to source and fill a truck with diesel and
medical supplies and had it delivered to them. They would not have got
this kind of prompt support had they requested it from 'official'

Example 2: On a relief run to Akkraipattu on the East coast, a
colleague observed some women and children who were standing in the dark
and in the pouring rain, clinging to each other. They stared ahead not
feeling the rain or caring that it was dark and wet. They were near the
shattered remains of what once were their homes. They had not wanted
to leave their homes. They had not only lost their homes and all their
belongings, many of them had lost husbands and children, fathers and
mothers and other relatives. Their suffering and grief was enormous.
The truck which was destined for Akkraipattu was stopped and unloaded
immediately and they were given as much as possible.

Where are we now? Emotionally and mentally, it has been an assault
course for everyone. Yet every cloud has its silver lining. The most
wonderful thing which has come of this tragedy is the bonding of people
of all ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations and gender
identities, all volunteering to help their fellow countrymen and women
in their hour of need. However this is a tragedy of such enormous
proportions for Sri Lanka already coping with so much over the years. It
will take years and years to rebuild our country, but the psychological
wounds may well take even longer.

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