Bringing aid into the hospital
I went to the Vanni, specifically the Vavuniya Hospital. People from Action Care and Trust (actlanka.com) were able to distribute two lorry-loads of basic medical supplies and basic items like mattresses and milk powder. This was only possible with the support of the Ministry Of Health and the Army who provided transport and escort the whole way. In very trying conditions these people are all doing a very good job for our fellow Sri Lankans. There’s more we can do.
Note that I’m writing this in a personal capacity. I’ll release photo/video when cleared, but suffice it to say that the hospital is operating over-capacity, but operating. The doctors there are doing an amazing job and they say that they are proud of the work they do. I’m especially thankful to the soldiers who escorted us and to the Ministries for making this possible. Both also provide everyday service for the people of this country, and I’m thankful for that too.
We started in Colombo, raising some money, getting a list of medical supplies from the doctors in Vavuniya and buying those. The Ministry of Health was extremely helpful as were other ministries and the Army. Went through Anuradhapura, giving some supplies to the military hospital there. Though they don’t need so much, they do need. Then we drove to Madavachiya, basically the midpoint.
At the Madavachiya base the army guys helped us transfer the goods into trucks that they provided. It was hot as anything but everything got moved over. Then we got in an armored bus, bailed down some road to meet the Colonel who gave us a gracious lunch as we got the necessary permissions. Should note that this whole thing was organized in like 5 days and was only possible through the dedication of a few people and the support of the government and military. So from there to Vavuniya.
Those buses aren’t built for comfort and they bail at like 100, 120, but you could see the Vanni as we went by. Looks like the rest of Sri Lanka, bit empty, but the roads are actually very good in most parts. There’s bus service, girls on bicycles, motorbikes, tailor shops, kades, houses, and a fair amount of dry jungle.
Vavuniya town itself is a fully functional town. Big petrol shed, Cargill’s Food City, roads, buses, road construction. The hospital is a big greenish grey building near the center of town. It is one of the better equipped hospitals in the region and not directly in the warzone. However, it’s built for like 500 and there’s currently more than double that, plus their families. Looks like they could use more roll-out mattresses, water mattresses, pillows, sheets, clothes, etc.
A lot of women and children, lot of nursing mothers. Lot of limb wounds, bandaged feet, arms, etc. This post is not meant to be political, but I would like to note that these people are Sri Lankan, they’re being treated in government hospitals and protected by our security forces. I just wish the LTTE would let its human shields go and accept amnesty. And let our people go.
But what’s needed now as fellow citizens is immediate relief, and care. Basically through friends and family we raised some amount of money, imported and cleared some things and delivered them. Since this worked we’ll try to do it again. Hospitals are operating in the Vanni. The military and government are providing services, but they can use Sri Lankan (and international support). For relief to actually reach people, however, means working together, with respect.
Anyways, we’ll go again. Got a list directly from the doctors there. Could use more meds, milk powder, vitamins, and amenities for sleeping. Please note that ACT is an apolitical group and unaffiliated with any foreign organizations. It’s focused only on relief and rehabilitation. This is literally a group of concerned citizens who decided to use their phone calls and connections and do something. There’s no operating expenses, no office, people just donate their time and money at this time of national need.
If you’d like to get involved, funds and connections for goods/etc are useful. You can use the contact form at actlanka.com or mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Funds and fundraising is probably the most important thing right now.
Also note that Avurudu – Sinhala and Tamil New Year – is coming up. It’s a time of family, and giving a few gifts. A lot of our relatives aren’t getting anything this Avurudu, but we can give them something. This is from my last Sunday Leader column:
Deputy Minister of Social Services Lionel Premasiri is organising Ne Gam Yaame Viyapruthiya (visiting relatives for the New Year). On April 9th a convoy will begin in Tangalle collecting school supplies, household items, dry rations, new clothes, mattresses and plastic piggy banks with a few coins. It seems small, but it makes a real difference.
The Colombo collection point for Ne Gam Yaame Viyapruthiya in Colombo is the Shanti Foundation on Buller’s Road (near Kanatte junction). Contact 071-377-7666 for more info.
Anyways, it’s real in the field. The doctors and soldiers and government servants are doing a lot of work to help out. So can we.