Thursday, March 03, 2005

Road Blocks and Land Mines

Road Blocks and Land Mines
By Fred Breedlove USA

1. Roadblock - Demonstrators blocked the main road in Kalmunai last week (03/10/2005) in several places to protest the lack of action by the Sri Lankan government in addressing the issue of rebuilding of houses in the east. They were also upset with NGO's taking pictures of the devastation in the area so they could use them to raise donations throughout the world, and then not use the funds to help out the effected areas. Some NGO's seem to be lining their pockets with donations, then drive up and down the coastal roads in fancy SUV's, but never seem to be helping perform actual relief to the Tsunami victums. The demonstrations finally stopped after the government promissed to start rebuilding houses in the near future. If the government does not carry through with its promise, the demonstrations are likely going to resume at a higher level. I was walking on the main road in Kalmunai when I came upon a roadblock with a large angry crowd. I turned around and soon found myself blocked from where I had come from by a new roadblock, but was able to walk through without incident

2. Zchita College - this Kalmunai school now runs a 2nd shift to accommodate the 1400 students (100 students had died in the Tsunami) from another school located within 200 meters of the shoreline - which was damaged heavily by the Tsunami. Zchita College was undamaged by the Tsunami physically, but the students, faculty, and administration were all affected in some way, many of them losing family members, their homes, and all of their possessions. (see two photos - one of the 1st shift computer lab students, and one with me and many of the class during my visit there Mar 11, 2005.

3. Children's Ward - Little Smile organization founder & president Michael Kreitmeir (Germany), was in Kalmunai today for a ground breaking ceremony at the site of the new 3-story Children's Ward at Kalmunai's 265-bed Ashraf Memorial Hospital. Participating in the ceremony was Dr. Nazeer (Deputy Provincial Director for Health Services - Kalmunai), Michael Kreitmeir, and Dr. Raeez (founder and president of Ampara Economic Recovery Organization (AERO). (photo taken by Fred Breedlove, USA)

4. Minefield - Land mines are a real concern for people in Batticaloa and other areas in Sri Lanka. The photo taken of Fred in Batticaloa is in an area very close to where people are living in home made temporary shelters/huts. (photo taken on Mar 8,2005).

5. Soldiers - Soldiers can be seen throughout Sri Lanka, usually carrying AK-47 machine guns. The soldiers in the photo were at a road check point in the Batticaloa area. Checkpoints like this are very common in Sri Lanka. Occaisionally you can also see non- uniformed men on the roads carrying AK-47's. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo - these guys do not like having their pictures taken.

6. Temporary Shelter - The woman in the photo with Fred Breedlove is living in the hut shown behind them on the foundation of what used to be her family's home. Her husband can be seen in the background talking to Dr. Raeez, AERO president