26 December 2012, marked the 8th anniversary of the devastating Tsunami that took untold lives around the Indian Ocean. After 4 weeks of fund raising here at home, I arrived in Sri Lanka in early February to join friends there and from Singapore to help rebuild lives and homes for a small village on the southwest coast. The photo above is of a mass burial site. With hundreds dead from ‘my’ village and over a thousand from an inundated train nearby, large burial pits were hastily dug with bulldozers. Buddhists monks did their best to perform last rites as body after body was placed in this pit and covered with beach sand. This grave, on a narrow strip between the coast road and the ocean contained hundreds of bodies. Later, many were exhumed and reburied more traditionally.
The earthquake was caused by subduction and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (98 ft) high. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. Imagine the effects of Hurricane Sandy multiplied a full 1000 times.
I went on to spend a total of 2 months there in 2005 and another 4 months over the next 5 years. So each Boxing Day my thoughts turn there. Through a computer school and internet center that I helped set up, I still stay in touch with some of the villagers. The village is doing better now but it can never be the same. If you are interested to know more, I created a website to report back to donors and chronicle the progress of the project. I haven’t updated it in several years but you can find it here: http://kuruppukanda.wordpress.com/