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Arriving in Sri Lanka

Ayubowan from Sri Lanka. After a 38 hour (24 hours in flight) journey I touched down in Colombo with $25,000 in donations, enough water purification tablets to make some 6,000 gallons of clean water, and 70 pounds of flashlights. The flight was full of disaster relief workers and supplies. We were greeted by the government and taken to a special airport area to register and be escorted past customs.

After a four-hour taxi ride I finally arrived at the home of Deva Ratnakara in the cloud forest area of Kandy. Deva is the president of Friends in Service to Community, the NGO that we are assisting. Most of the relief workers on my flight are headed to the south coast as far as Yala National Park. This area is more accessible and under government control. The east coast from Jaffna down to Arugambe is controlled by the Tamil Tigers. Damage in this area is somewhat unknown due to the lack of information being released by the Tigers. However, the east coast certainly took the greatest force of the wave.

We are focusing our relief work on the small area just south of Arugambe and north of Yala National Park. The village of Panama is in this region of the east coast. There are a couple of logistical challenges to this region. First, the only access point was a bridge which has been washed out. The only way in at this time is by military boat or helicopter. Second, the Tigers have been taking relief supplies as well as children from disaster relief camps in order to resupply their agenda. It is thought that the children are being taken to replace thousands of Tigers killed in the Tsunami. Just a couple days ago, Deva’s friend was bringing a semi truck load of relief supplies to the area when Tigers blocked the road with a tractor and attempted to take the supplies. A military officer was able to radio for help and the Tigers were scared off by a military helicopter.

One of our relief volunteers is a wildlife ranger at Yala National Park and has immediate knowledge about the conditions in Panama. He will be at the planning meeting that we are having Thursday. I’ll know a lot more at that time and I can send another update.

Thanks to all of you who have expressed your generosity and compassion. We are now close to reaching $30,000 in donations. I can tell you that everyone here is overwhelmed and extremely grateful. We will make certain that every dollar reaches the people in need.


This is a photo of a Tsunami survivor residing on the east coast of the island.


Carsten Henningsen