Befriend Sri Lanka

Writing wise – I’ve taken on a whole new project.  A friend of mine is in the process of starting a charitable organization here.  But let me explain things a bit first.

The Sri Lankan government is corrupt – very much so.  Add to that the problems we have with the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) not allowing people into the north and the east for relief efforts.  The international aid organizations are having a difficult time effectively getting the help that’s needed to the various areas.  All sorts of cottage industry relief efforts have been started up all over Sri Lanka, bringing the relief efforts directly to those who need it without government intervention or approval.

Enter Michele who lives here with her family.  They’re from England and her husband is a civil (I think) engineer.  They’ve been here a few months longer than I have.  Her daughter, Sarah, wrote and recorded a song called "Missing You" that she’s dedicated to the survivors of the tsunami.  They’re in the process of working on a record deal with people in Germany and are hoping to get a recording contract.  If it works, they’ll be able to sell the song internationally with all funds going to their new relief organization, Befriend Sri Lanka.  Befriend Sri Lanka is working on getting local volunteers who speak the local languages trained to listen to the survivors.

One thing that’s been happening lately is that the survivors, especially those whose children were swept away, are killing themselves.  In huge numbers.  They’re getting their basic needs taken care of – food, shelter, clothing – but there’s no one to listen to them.  They don’t know how to handle their grief.

And that’s where Befriend Sri Lanka comes in.

I’ve volunteered to be her chief writer and also her webmaster.  Sort of.  Another woman I know from a writing group is doing the webdesign, I’m writing the content, and I’ve set myself up to otherwise be responsible for anything that needs to be done  with the website and with writing in general, including delegating work to others who can help.

On Wednesday, Michele and I, along with two other women, Visaka and Cindy, are going to visit some of the villages south of Colombo, talk to the head men, and assess needs.  I’m going along as a writer and photographer (I’m the only one with a digital camera, plus I am a shutterbug anyway).  Visaka is a Sri Lankan who speaks Sinhalese and she’s also an actress who’s done many local tele-dramas, so she may also be recognizable – I really don’t know.  Cindy is from Virginia, USA, and she arrived today a few hours before church started with a group of other people from Volunteers International.  She, along with another man, Jack, just showed up out of the blue, and there are a half dozen others arriving tonight, all from the same ward, I think, in Virginia.

Visiting the camps in the villages on Wednesday will be interesting.  It’s going to be emotionally taxing, to say the least.  I have a difficult time with things like this.  But if I’m going to write their promotional materials effectively, it would be better for me to see it for myself. On the one hand, I’m not looking forward to it at all. On the other hand, it’s gotta be done.

Author: LMAshton

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