Job in paradise that turned into an exhausting mercy mission
Saturday 08 January 2005
She works 18-hour days, tends to the needs of the homeless and grieving and feeds the hungry. It is not exactly what Tracey Edginton expected when she signed up for a job in paradise.
Sri Lanka was going to be about swaying palms, sun-kissed beaches, king coconuts and spending time with her boyfriend, Sam. For two months it was everything she hoped for.
The 33-year-old had worked as a press officer for the New Zealand government. But she landed a job handling press and publicity for Save the Children in Sri Lanka. Then came Boxing Day. Within hours she became a frontline aid worker.
Ms Edginton suddenly found herself loading aid convoys and heading to the crisis town of Galle. The trip down the west coast was shocking. "I had driven down that coastal route many times and gazed in wonder at it. Now I was looking at a scene of utter devastation.
"I was shocked, stunned and shocked again as we made our way down to Galle. I fell very quiet. Why had some people survived and others perished? Why did some buildings stand and others fall?"
Within two days, of the disaster, Ms Edginton was in Matara on the south coast, full of upturned cars homes now concrete chunks and twisted metal. She now speeds around the camps ensuring the people of this land she has come to love have food and medicine.
By mid-afternoon yesterday Ms Edginton had been on two food runs to the stricken village of Dikwella. She packed food parcels for families and loaded them on vans. Each pack provides for a family of five for one week. In this area there are 40,000 people in 58 camps: 11,000 homeless families.
Sleeping a maximum of six hours a night in a spartan local guesthouse, Ms Edginton rarely gets to bed before midnight. Occasionally she grabs a five-minute break.
Last week one van run by another organisation was swamped by hungry people when those inside began randomly giving out food parcels. Many were left with nothing.
Ms Edginton said Save the Children took a different approach. "We arrive in our vans and if there are a small number of people in the camp we hand out the food packs. But if the camps are busy, we leave packs with monks or whoever is in charge there and let them decide who is most in need. Our operation is geared around working with the local people."
She is starting to see progress, a glimmer of hope. People are starting to move from camps, towards the sites of their former homes as tarpaulin and tents arrive.
Now the challenge is to ensure survivors have homes to go to and the means to support themselves. With rumours circulating about abduction and abuse of children, Ms Edginton is involved in ensuring all are accounted for. "We are adamant that children must remain within the communities where they are now," she says. "They must get back to some sort of normality as soon as possible."
- 1 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 2 How to turn off/stop 'seen by' on Facebook: Disable it to make your chats seem less passive aggressive
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
- 5 Buckingham Palace guard who attacked passers-by in 'most most violent piece of CCTV footage' police officer had seen walks free
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...
Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...
£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...