Paradise Lost: Part I

This is from a trip to Sri Lanka in 2004:

Thursday, June 2nd 3:46 am: Somewhere over the South China Sea, at 37,000 feet, I chase the dawn. Far behind me L.A. sits down to lunch, and even further, Toronto prepares for dinner. I nuzzle comfortably into my seat and look out at the night sky. The moon lights up the clouds, and Sri Lanka is still several hours away, as I let my thoughts drift.

It all started with an email. In February, two months after the Tsunami, a relative had driven through the hardest hit areas of Sri Lanka, and
had mentioned to me that, in many places, assistance had not yet been received. I was shocked.

Like the rest of the world, I had watched the post Christmas devastation with a macabre fascination, and had donated, and assumed the reconstruction was well on its way. The Red Cross, Unicef, and World Vision, along with a slew of other NGO’s (Non government organizations) had quickly set up refugee camps, and were providing safe drinking water, food, shelter, and medical attention. But the majority
of the funds had not being distributed. In Sri Lanka, the larger NGO’s that held most of the worldwide donations had set up a plan on how the money should be spent, based on the level of devastation, but had run into Government opposition. A twenty two year religious war that had ravaged the country was in its second year of a shaky ceasefire. And while local and state governments, were eager to get their hands on the money, the powerful Buddhist majority, led by the priests, were as eager to ensure that the Hindu Tamils in the north did not get any or, get only limited assistance.


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