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Greetings From Sri Lanka

Thomas D. Segel

Thomas D. Segel

tsegel@americasvoices.org          
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January 15, 2005

 

Here in deep South Texas and across the United States it is almost impossible to get a true feeling of how devastating the Asian Tsunami was to the thousands upon thousands of people who were impacted by that nightmare of nature.

Captain Alfonso Martinez who commands the Salvation Army in this area has received an e-mail message from Mattie Lou Brandon, another Army executive in Sri Lanka.  Her letter may make things a bit clearer to those who read it.  At the very least, it puts a face on what for many in this country have only been video pictures and the words of the evening news.

"Greetings from Sri Lanka", she writes.  "Here in Colombo it is business as usual.  People are busy living their lives and the quiet hush that once covered this city is nearly forgotten.

Yet ten miles from here many are suffering from the loss of loved ones and all that they possessed.  Many had their loved ones taken from their arms, snatched from their view by something they loved, by something they found beautiful and at times calming.  Many have worked so long on the sea for  their worldly possessions, and in a few short minutes it was washed away, taken by something they trusted and depended upon for their living.

As I write to you so many are crying and grieving, wondering where to turn and having no place to go.  There are those who don't have enough to eat, no less a place to lay their heads.  Their lives are a cacophony of confusion.  Their emotions low, but their hearts and minds are in an uproar and a commotion.  Those who are afraid to close their eyes, for all they can do is relive the nightmare that has taken control of their lives.

Others can't wait to sleep for it is the only peace that they have.  Many desire death's sleep as a permanent solution to what has become a never ending emotional roller coaster.  Some have opted to die instead of living, they have no hope to cling too.  So many stories being relived again and again.  Some stories of how they were victors over death and how some lost the battle."

She concludes that portion of her letter saying .... "So many (are) now wondering aimlessly, void of possessions and loved ones and having no will or hope to go on."

But, major disasters are much more than just those who lost loved ones and livelihood.  What nature has hurled upon those shores strikes every person on the land.  Mattie Brandon gives us a picture of that with these passages.

"As the days pass, there are many new concerns.  Here in Colombo many food items are becoming harder to purchase.  With this island being surrounded on all sides by water, fish is a large part of every poor families diet.

It is economical and in large supply.  With the conditions being as they are, the few fishermen that did not lose their boats can't fish, because it is not safe to eat it and people won't buy it ....

Poultry is becoming scarce and very expensive, as well as mutton.  Staples such as sugar, salt and milk power have all been all purchased for the disaster victims.  The store shelves are bare.  The few shop owners that have food have gone from the humanitarian mode to the get rich quick mode.  Many items are being flown in for the people in need, but ships are slow coming in to replenish the store shelves.

Petrol is hard to find.  For the last couple of days the service stations have been out of diesel and petrol.  On the outskirts of town there are stations that have petrol, but the prices are very high, and you have to drive quite a way to purchase it."

She ends her letter with words about the relief effort.  "As you can see there are many challenges here.  But I thank God for the privilege to be here to experience each challenge, and I know that He will be by all of our sides to see us through.  I thank God for the many people who have come to the aid and rescue of the survivors.  So many have opened their hearts and their checkbooks to help those in need."

Miss Brandon has told a tale of sadness and great need, not just for those who faced the huge waves hitting Sri Lanka, but also for everyone in the country.  Far more than our initial relief efforts will be required .... and regardless of the aid, comfort and understanding, the world will never be the same again for the people of that island country.

 

Copyright Copyright 2020 by Thomas D. Segel & America's Voices, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Tom Segel is a former combat correspondent and Master Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Retired), who holds eight personal decorations for valor and meritorious service, along with the Thomas Jefferson Award for Journalistic Excellence, six Armed Forces Writers League awards for Outstanding Achievement and the title of Military Journalist of the Year.  Nationally published in both print and online media, his conservative writings are distributed by the Paragon Foundation News Service, and he now writes for America's Voices.  The author of several books, his Men in Space, published by Paladin Press, was selected for both the national high school and junior high school library lists.  Mr. Segel resides in Harlingen, Texas with his wife, Pattie.  You can e-mail Tom at tsegel@americasvoices.org.

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