A survivor's diary: 'We have come to realise what is important in life'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

This week has been one of the most emotional for people of my village. On Monday it was Poyet day - the day of the Full Moon in the Buddhist calendar. The tsunami came on the last Poyet day. It is meant to be a festival but nobody celebrated. I went to the temple for the Pooja to remember the people who died. The monks have been busy helping people and giving blessings.

This week has been one of the most emotional for people of my village. On Monday it was Poyet day - the day of the Full Moon in the Buddhist calendar. The tsunami came on the last Poyet day. It is meant to be a festival but nobody celebrated. I went to the temple for the Pooja to remember the people who died. The monks have been busy helping people and giving blessings.

Two days later it was the one-month "anniversary" of the tsunami. At 9.36am everybody across the country was silent for one minute. Even the television and radio channels went off air. We planted a tree in Dickwella to remember the dead.

One positive outcome of the tsunami has been the sense of community. In my area Buddhists, Catholics and Muslims have all been helping each other. I also feel that people have become more religious. I think we have come to realise what is important in life.

People are trying hard to get on with their lives, but are facing many difficulties. They don't have the right equipment or materials to start rebuilding their homes.

One of my friends whose house was destroyed is facing a real dilemma. The only way he can rebuild his life is by earning money in the capital, Colombo. But he doesn't want to leave his wife and daughter alone. His manager is saying he will have to sack him if he keeps missing work.

The other problem is what the government has called the "100 metre" rule. People aren't allowed to build within 100 metres of the sea in case another tsunami comes. But people don't want to move. They have lived there all their lives and have worked hard to buy the land.

An uncle of my colleague has the money to start rebuilding, but he can't because he won't be provided with electricity, water or telephone lines if he builds near the beach. The local fishermen are worried because they have to live by the sea to make a living. Despite their difficult position, I have seen more fisherman working this week.

I think some of the foreign aid agencies are repairing their boats.

This week more tents are going up in the village. Some of them are quite big and have separate rooms. But other families are living in small tents. I went inside one this week and two things really surprised me. They are so hot in the day it is unbearable. The other thing is that hardly any of them are waterproof.

Many of the tents are pitched on the sand and most don't have mosquito nets. I don't know how they sleep at night.

Comments