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Katie Drury & the Tsunami 2004-5
 

Southport Lions sponsored former KGV student Katie Drury because we believe that her kind of direct action is the best way of making a difference to the people who need help the most. In the five months she spent on the front line, she saw and experienced more than most of us will see and experience in a lifetime - and as well as having contributed valuable service to others, has learned valuable lessons about herself. Well Done!

 

But there is, of course, more to the story; there is the generosity of ordinary people, there is the spirit of co-operation between service organisations, and there is the ‘can do’ approach which overcomes all obstacles.

 

So, although the story is now archive material, it is worth reading to see the positive side of human nature in action. It appears exactly as it was written at the time, a live report.

30th December 2004 INDIAN OCEAN DISASTER RELIEF

 

Boxing Day 2004 saw much of Southeast Asia surrounding the Indian Ocean devastated by a Tsunami caused by an under-sea earthquake of force 9.2 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra. The earthquake released energy comprising one eighth of all the earthquake energy released in the last hundred years. Within hours, a quarter of a million people were dead, and millions more homeless. Around the world, relief agencies began to take stock of what was required and what could be done. In Southport, the Lions and local Rotary Clubs joined together to collect money to send ShelterBoxes and AquaBoxes to stricken areas. These boxes provide tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, and water purification, and can be put into use as soon as they arrive.

Rotarians and Lions were out collecting at Morrison's Supermarket on Thursday 30th December, and at ASDA on Friday 31st December.

1st January 2005 MAGNIFICENT RESPONSE TO COLLECTION

 

The two collections, at Morrison's and ASDA, raised an incredible total of £9,555. This is true generosity, and heartfelt thanks are due to all those supermarket customers who put their pennies, pounds, and folding money into our buckets! Thanks are due, too, to the supermarkets who gave us access to their stores. A special word of thanks to ASDA, who have given us an additional day to collect: Tuesday 4th January 2005.

 

It is easy to wonder, given the scale of the disaster, whether individuals can really make a difference. The answer is Yes, we can! And here's how:

 

£9,500 will buy 38 AquaBoxes, each of which is capable of purifying 33,000 litres of water - a total of one and a quarter million litres of safe drinkable water. To put this into perspective, one and a quarter million litres will supply drinking water for five thousand people for four months.

 

That is the measure of what CAN be done.

A ShelterBox ready to go!

3rd January 2005  Dateline Malaysia: LIONS ARE ALREADY THERE...

 

...and the reason, sadly, is because this was their home town. Throughout the devastated areas, local Lions are putting their expertise to the use of their communities - and acting as points of focus for aid coming from the rest of the world.

They know, first hand, what is needed, and when, and who, can arrange for the best use to be made of whatever supplies arrive. This is the strength of international organisations such as Lions, but in being proud of their strengths we should not forget that our fellow Lions are victims, too.

6th January 2005 Funds Update

 

If we have learned anything from this disaster, it is that there is a genuine spirit of compassion for the plight of people, personally unknown, across the world. Shoppers at ASDA and Morrison in Southport, and other supporters, have contributed more than THIRTEEN THOUSAND POUNDS towards the purchase of AquaBoxes and ShelterBoxes. All we can say is "Thank You" The photograph, taken at Batticaloa in Sri Lanka on 5th January, shows a ShelterBox camp established with boxes already sent.

9th January 2005 Lord Street Rocks for QUAKE AID!

 

Shoppers and visitors to Southport were entertained on Saturday 8th January by a succession of talented musicians and entertainers who had responded to a call from local company ABD Productions, and the Southport Champion, to perform at the Bandstand on Lord Street to raise funds for the Tsunami Appeal. Originally due to start at 11.00am, the QUAKE AID concert was delayed by the gales which had caused significant damage overnight. Southport Station was closed for a time, and other services disrupted, but this simply brought it home to performers and audience alike the real devastation suffered in the Indian Ocean area.

 

Continuing the spirit of co-operation, more than 60 members of Lions and Rotary Clubs joined together as Bucketeers to collect donations from generous members of the public. Southport Lions would like to pay tribute to the members of the Rotary Clubs of Southport, Southport Links, Southport Meols, Formby, Crosby, South Sefton, and Aintree & Kirkby who all did a super job, and whose need for hot drinks to aid the thawing-out process nearly exceeded the capacity of our small gas stove to provide!

 

The total raised was £2,746.73, a marvellous addition to the aid programme.

25th January 2005 Ainsdale Student gives a hand.

 

Former KGV student Katie Drury, like thousands of other young people, decided to take a year out between school and University. She travelled to Sri Lanka and spent a month helping at an elephant sanctuary, then spent two months working in Viet Nam. But once back home in Ainsdale, Katie saw the reports of devastation caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami, and immediately decided that she must do whatever she could to help. Confirmation came from an Indian relief organisation that they could find useful work for her, and arrange basic accommodation, IF Katie could make her own way to India, and pay for her keep while there. This confirmation opened the door for her visa, and Katie is due to leave for Chennai (Madras) almost immediately. Southport Lions have made a grant to Katie which will provide her living expenses for a month while she is in India.

3rd March 2005 Katie Drury Reports!

 

Although frustrated by delays in issuing her visa, Katie persisted, and travelled as planned to India. After assessing the situation, she quickly decided that she could do more to help by moving to Sri Lanka, and has now arrived at what was once a beach and dive centre at Hikkaduwa about 60 miles south of Colombo. Little has survived the devastation of the tsunami, and Katie is kept continually busy:

 

"Since arriving here a week ago today, I've been working in an orphanage with 60 babies and children, and visited other Government orphanages to make plans for repainting them. I'm working with five other private volunteers, and the past few days we've really got into the building side of things. We built the structure of a house, and foundations, which we are finishing this morning. Yesterday we spent all day shovelling 4 truck loads of gravel and sand to rebuild a centre down the road which was demolished, then straight after that we went down to the next relief site to help build some toilet blocks - because the temporary ones are shared with around 700 people"

"It's so good to get stuck into the work and have loads to do. Maybe on the website you could ask more people to come out. There's just so much to do.""The budget is going fine for the moment. My accommodation is £3 a night, and I spend around the same on food!"

 

"This is the best thing I've done for ages, and it's so rewarding to help the Sri Lankans, they're such beautiful people."

11th March 2005 Life in Tent City

 

It is often the case that out of sight is out of mind, and the relative absence of reports on the aftermath of the Tsunami in the public media make it so easy to assume that everything on the ground is being sorted. All is not as rosy as it seems though, as Katie Drury is finding out:

"There are still at least a thousand people here living in tents, after almost 3 months. The rains are starting in a couple of weeks, and they'll all get flooded. No one has any money to build houses, and at the moment we've only enough money put together to build temporary housing. There are children and families living in tents, and the children go to school in a tent too. I just feel so frustrated about the whole thing. The west raised so much money after the tsunami and the people here haven't seen a penny. I've been speaking to many of the local people, and all they ever say is 'we need a house.' I was told that all the local people help each other out with food - food's not a problem here. They just need housing and simple things to make a business from."

"We've just been talking about this, about half an hour ago, down at the refugee camp at Parelia. We have no money out here to work with, the camps don't have any, and we are now having to buy our own paint and brushes to do the work over these next couple of days, because even the camps don't have any money to buy paint. It's all getting lost in bloody 'administration' and red tape.""My daily budget is £10 and it just seems to take a lot more than that. I'm moving in to a free house this weekend, so that will ease my account for a couple of weeks."

 

"We're being filmed working by ITV tomorrow (10th March -ed) which is for the North West. We just need to voice all this out."

 

"Sorry for such a long email. I'm just getting really frustrated at the moment with the situation. They need houses straight away. We know how to build the temporary houses, we just need the money and materials to do it."

 

As you can see, dear reader, there is still an amazing amount of work to be done. As individuals we cannot fix the big problems but at least we can help on the ground. Southport Lions have made an additional, immediate, grant of £500 to allow Katie to continue with what she is doing, and to buy the materials which she needs. Somehow it seems to be the least we can do.

113th April 2005 The Move to Arugamby

 

Since her last despatch, Katie has been busy in ways that most of us cannot even imagine. In a world where there are so many stories about badness, it is refreshing to read about what CAN be achieved by someone who cares so deeply about people "in a far off country about which we know little." Here is her latest report sent yesterday, 12th April:

 

"It's been a hectic 10 days since I wrote last. I moved up the east coast to a place called Arugamby, which used to be a very famous surf destination - not any more! It took 8 hours to drive there from Hikkaduwa and I woke up to find the whole place in complete devastation. I could see the sea from the road and just one mass of rubble. The whole place was devastated during the tsunami, and still is now. To make it even worse, there's no aid here. World Vision are providing water for the local people everyday as there is no running water to drink, no flushing toilets, two guest houses only just usable, and not many places to eat.

 

It was mentally so challenging to be there for the first few days - there's just nothing there. The Indian Army has only just rebuilt the bridge to get from Pottuvil (the next village) into the bay. All food is bought from there in the morning and runs out very quickly by the evening. I felt I wanted to leave as soon as I got there. I was living in a little cabana with another volunteer - there was a squat toilet and shower, literally outside, with a sheet around it so I had to shower wearing a sarong around me.

 

Arugamby is in the middle of a cease fire zone - I'm sure you know about the fighting with the Tamils around these areas. Over the last few days there have been soldiers everywhere, walking around with big rifles across their chests, so scary to be around. This is because it's a Muslim area and the Tamils had blown up one of the Buddhist temples with 2 hand grenades last Saturday morning.

 

At first I felt very unsafe there as the males in the area are very domineering, and always stare at me, and the other girls, so we have to be covered up all the time in the hot, hot days, so it is very difficult to work. I’ve joined a Dutch girl called Esther, doing medical work in the camps, and dressing wounds of all the children and taking them to the German doctors. I'm doing 2 hours a day with a 2 year old boy who was born with brain damage, so I'm working very hard with him at the moment to get him back up to scratch by doing lots of physio exercises to strengthen his back muscles so he can do things for himself. Right now he is still like a baby and his family treat him like one, as a doctor told them when he was born that there's no hope for him and he will always be that way.

It's so hard to describe how hard it's been. I'm exhausted in everyway you can think of, mentally, physically and emotionally drained so I've taken a week’s holiday back here in Hikkaduwa for the Buddhist new year. I need a break before I get too wrapped up in things. I've been around destruction now for 7 weeks and although I'm quite oblivious to it most of the time now, it still catches up with me every now and then. I expect to stay in Arugamby for another 2 or 3 weeks, when I go back in 1 week’s time, as by then I will have got to the stage with this little boy where his family can do these exercises with him and I won't need to go anymore. It's amazing, they are living in a temporary house in the middle of no-where, like a little tribe with all the muslim women making me tea. It's an experience not many people get to have, seeing inside and being part of another way of living.

 

There's no internet in Arugamby so I can only check my email when I come back to Hikkaduwa, so I'll email you again before I go back and I promiseI'll send you some pictures in a few days. There's practically nothing in Arugamby so I'm making the most of this week to catch up with things!

 

Thanks to the Lions for all their help. I'm learning more about myself here than I've ever done in my life. One week in Arugamby and I already feel like a different person."

20th May 2005 The First Signs of Progress

 

The reality which Katie has found at the sharp end of the relief efforts in Sri Lanka comes across starkly in her regular reports, and it is good to read that some kind of order is finally being brought into the chaos. Much of this has been achieved by volunteer workers "on the ground." Southport Lions have provided sponsorship for Katie - and we can't think of a better way of making a difference!

 

"I've been so busy these last few weeks I'm so tired now. I went to Hikkaduwa for a week and spent a few days working around the camps doing some painting in a Children's centre there with a few other volunteers. Then I spent 2 days doing a reef clean up in Unanwatuna which is just past Galle along the coast. There were about 20 of us, all with snorkels and goggles collecting litter around the reef left over from the Tsunami, and also from tourists! I then returned to Arugamby where I have been for the last 2 weeks. I never realize how draining it is to be there until I leave. The situation in Arugamby has improved and in some ways it is still the same. The soldiers aren't around as much which is less frightening now.

The temporary houses are finished in the area now so all the locals have shelter, and most of the basic facilities for living. My friends Laura and Gemma have invested their fundraising money into a couple of permanent houses there for a few locals and their families, which are going well. Next week we're starting one of 2 playground projects in the camps, which will be permanently there for the 2 year lease we have for the land. I'm so excited about it as the children in the area don't have anything to do once they finish school. The wood is arriving today then we can start building tomorrow. We bought some tyres and rope and have plans to make it really great.

I'm still working with the little 2 year old boy called Jayahan. He's doing great and I'm already seeing an improvement with the Physio I've done so far. Now I'm working on teaching the parents how to do these exercises with him so they don't feel so dependent on me.

Arugamby is slowly building itself back up now and the area is being cleaned really well of all the left over debris by an organisation called Mercycorps. This is making a lot of difference to the look of the place. Restaurants and guesthouses are opening up each day, so I'm starting to work with an English artist, painting up the rest of the guesthouses and tidying them up to reopen. It's great now that the houses are finished. Now the fun work's starting to come through, which I'm really happy about after all this time!”

27th May 2005 The Good, the Bad, and the Unspeakable

 

It's only a week since the last update was received from Katie Drury. However, the latest despatch has just arrived. It does not make for comfortable reading.

 

"I've unfortunately just been ill for the last few days with a very bad stomach bug! All my other friends have got it too, so we've all been in a room together for days. My first and worst day was when I went to Colombo to renew my visa. Colombo really isn't the best place to be sick. Anyway, I have some more updates for you from the past few days.”

Do you remember my first day here in Sri Lanka? I worked in an orphanage near Galle. I've just been there with my friend Nat to see what's going on because the American couple who had taken it over have just managed to get it practically shut down by the Government. They found out that the guy has criminal charges pending all over the place which the Government hadn't checked before they let them do this. He has child abuse records and rape charges, and is wanted by the Mexican police for drug trafficking. We've just been there now, and aren't allowed in to see the children. They're not allowed outside at all now, and no westerners can enter without the Minister's permission, and no-one will tell us where to get it from. It's so crazy!

The thing that gets to me is how they can do that to children and how the Government can let him do this. He also stole $150,000 of donation money which was for the orphanage which the children haven't seen a penny of. I think now that the Government has taken over the orphanage it will stay this way forever. I just really hope that they allow more staff to work there so the children can at least see daylight again!

 

I'm not quite sure if I told you already about what's happening in Arugamby. The Government are going to take over 840 acres of land away from the people to sell to foreigners and big hotel owners to make more money. This means that all the resources people are putting into rebuilding and starting up their businesses, however small, will be taken away from them. They're even trying to take my friend Mambo's land. He has already been to Colombo twice with all his papers but I'm not sure how well that's going.

I have made the decision to stay here for at least 2 more months due to these reasons and I know many volunteers who are returning also to do what they can to stop all this from happening. I don't want to leave without doing my bit to stop all this happening. I hope you understand."

9th June 2005 Life on the Front Line

 

In the last report, Katie described how the Sri Lankan Government proposed to compulsorily take over land owned by Tsunami victims. This plan has produced considerable opposition - as you can imagine!

 

"You have no idea how amazing you guys have been helping me to do this work. We opened the playground yesterday, which I'd spent the whole week painting. I did lady bug spots and clouds, painted snakes and ladders on the floor, surrounded by kids. It's turned out so amazing.

 

On Sunday night we had a meeting with all the locals in Arugamby due to the eviction plan the governement have to clear them all out of their homes. The government had planned to come the following morning and lay down the marker stones for the 200 metre divisions, so we stayed up until 3am with all the other volunteers and tourists, making banners for a protest we did at 8 am.

It was incredible. At least 2,000 people were marching. I got up at 7, then we all marched down with the locals. The road was covered with burning tyres down the whole length of Arugamby. The police and army turned up with their rifles, and thankfully decided to quietly watch us protest. It's so hard to describe what it was like. It was like you'd see on the television when a war's broken out.  The people were fantastic though, no violence just extremely determined to stop the government officials from getting into Arugamby. The bridge from Pottuvil into the bay was closed off. The banners worked really well. They said: "Stop Government Tsunami, haven't these people suffered enough?" The energy there was amazing and it was so fantastic to be part of it with them and really support the locals. All the tourists and I were quite willing to stand on the front line just in case the police decided to turn on them."

27th June 2005 Packing the Suitcase!

 

"I've decided to finish up here and come home. I've been getting quite home sick recently and feel I've completed my mission here. Work's all of a sudden gone really quiet and I'm spending most of my days walking around new buildings and reopened guest houses and restaurants. I'm really happy with what I'm seeing around Arugamby now. Compared to when I first came to the east coast, there's been a dramatic improvement and development especially in the last 3 weeks. I spent the last 2 weeks seeing my little boy I was doing physio with, and the odd painting jobs, and I feel now that's my signal to leave.

I thank you all more than words can say for the amazing support you've given me. I couldn't have done it without you and now I'm leaving with a smile on my face and completion in my mind. I'm coming back in September to see how everything is going and maybe raise some money back home to put into a long term project, as they are all just starting to run. I'll enjoy a really long conversation with you when I return and I can show you all the photos of everything too. I'm looking forward to coming home and having a haircut and seeing all my family again after 5 months.

 

It's been the most challenging experience I've ever been through in my entire life. I've learnt so much about myself and what I want to do with my life, and pushed myself more than I could've imagined. I've been living in cabanas with a mattress on the floor, having showers outside surrounded by monkeys, living around what looks like a warzone, been through the stress of tsunami warnings and seen families whose livelihoods and friends have been taken by nature. I'm so nervous about coming home because of culture shock etc and also excited ....time for a glass of red wine in the sunshine in my back garden followed by a long hot bath."

Chemocare Dialysis Unit Floral Southport Haiti Relief Spinal Unit Kitchen Tsunami

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