dark life of 15-year-old Sanduni
road is dark and silent. The
sound of waves crashing onto the rocks is
the only sound that haunts the eerie night.. ......
return after the wrath of the sea fades away...
dog at the cemetery is not dead...
the tsunami an act of God?
topics and dashy driving... (....Balder
mourning period is over..."
revisits tale of three tragedies
bean plants sprout messages
at new climate warning
dark life of 15-year-old Sanduni
road is dark and silent. The
sound of waves crashing onto the rocks is
the only sound that haunts the eerie night.
little girl stands near the railway tracks, dressed in a
revealing outfit. With make-up lightening her dark complexion,
she stares ahead with a blank expression on her face.
is 15-year-old Sanduni.
near the railway tracks each night for the past one and a half
years, Sanduni earns her daily income through prostitution.
by her alcoholic father, Sanduni was brought to Colombo by a
relative who gave her hope of a new life in the big city. Instead of
fulfilling her dreams of attending a city school in order to gain
good employment in the future, Sanduni was sold to a brothel to lead
a life as a child prostitute.
came to this city two years ago. I still remember the day when my
aunt told my father that she would take me to Colombo to enroll me
in a good school. Instead of getting a good education, I was forced
into prostitution and have been roaming these streets ever since in
search of 'customers' every night," she says.
claims that she chose to stand near the railway tracks each night as
it was an 'ideal business spot.' "There are many people who
come to the railway station each night to catch the late night
trains. I have my daily customers who visit the station and certain
nights when business is 'good,' I have people who come in search of
me in luxury vehicles as well," she says.
Sanduni claims that there are nights when she has to return to the
brothel without any business as well. "There are 12 girls
working in my brothel and as I am the youngest, I am looked after
well by my other 'sisters.' However, on the nights when I return to
the brothel without any business, I do not get my meals and remain
hungry the whole day," she says.
questioned about her past, Sanduni's face brightens at the thought
of her mother and brother. "When my mother and brother were
alive, life was perfect. We lived in a tiny home and my father
earned a living through carpentry. Though we were poor, we were very
happy until the day my mother and brother were knocked down by a
speeding bus. They died on the spot when I was only nine years
old," Sanduni says adding that life changed for her father and
her ever since that day.
to bear his grief, Sanduni's father spent most of his time consuming
alcohol and many days Sanduni was left alone at home with an empty
stomach. "My father had tears in his eyes the day I was taken
away by my aunty, but he never searched for me. I do not know
whether he is living or not," she laments.
also claims that although she tried to run away from the brothel so
many times earlier, she had now adjusted to the pattern and was
content with her life. "Maybe this is what God had in store for
me. Instead of grieving each day, I now live each day with hope -
hope that someday I will live a good life and have children who I
will love and care for the rest of my life," she says.
return after the wrath of the sea fades away...
road is deserted except for the sounds
of birds that fill the air. The only sign of life is a mongoose that
crosses the dusty road in search of food. The huge trees with their
long branches swaying in the breeze on either side of the road is
the only indication, that beyond this barrier lies a national park.
national park still in its stages of recovery, barely a month after
the tsunami devastated a large extent of this natural habitat.
you enter the Yala National Park there is no sign of the destruction
the tsunami left in its wake. But a closer look at what was once the
Pattangala bungalow is evidence of what was left behind. Uprooted
large trees now lie drying on the ground. A few of the lucky ones
remain. The area on this side of the park is deserted, with no
animals in sight.
Yala National Park that was once the hub of tourism for a variety of
animals, is today without the regular tourists. However, there was a
number of locals who visited the park in the hope of spotting some
of their favourite animals.
to The Sunday Leader, Wildlife Expert, Dr. Nandana Atapattu said it
is possible that all animals have not returned to the park yet.
"A few tremors were felt in different parts of the country
recently. Due to an earthquake the animals can feel the Electro
Magnetic Field (EMF), a phenomenon in the earth. Humans can not feel
the EMF, but animals get the message that there is danger. Elephants
can feel the EMF with their legs and trunk while other animals feel
the impact of a tremor from their legs. Even ants can feel the
tremors," Dr. Atapattu said adding that it is unlikely that all
animals will return to the park until the slight tremors stop.
speaking on behalf of Director General, Wildlife Department,
Dayananda Kariyawasam, Law Enforcement and Field Operations Head, H.
T. S. Fernando said many of the animals who had left the park prior
to the tsunami had returned by December 27.
Yala National Park is well known for its sloth bear, leopards,
elephants, water buffalos, wild boars, sambhur and spotted deer.
Last weekend locals spotted a lone tusker, an elephant, a leopard,
wild boar, spotted deer and water buffaloes.
along the road within the park, the peacock, jungle fowl and birds
that included the Grey Heron, Hoopoe, Painted Stork, Changeable Hawk
Eagle, Green Bee-eater, Fish Eagle, Little Egret, the Black Necked
Stork, Indian Darter and Open Bill Stork were a regular sight.
to research conducted by the Wildlife Department and experienced
naturalists, a total of 32 species of mammals have been recorded at
the Yala National Park.
to Yala Park Warden, W. S. Weragama there is no reduction in the
animals at the park. "I saw a leopard and herds of elephants a
few days ago," says Weragama.
Yala park is located in the south eastern region of Sri Lanka and
extends over two provinces and two administrative districts. The
northern, north western and western areas of the park lie in the
Moneragala District and Uva Province while the south western and
southern areas lie in the Hambantota District in the Southern
Province. Part of the southern and the whole of the eastern and
north eastern boundaries lie along the Indian Ocean. The area of the
park is 97,881 hectares. However only 14,101 hectares (Block 1) is
used for tourism.
vegetation in the park consists of fairly dense forest and is
characterised by species such as palu, satin, weera, mayila and
malithan, ehela, kohomba and divul. The shrub vegetation consists of
andara, kukuruman eraminiya and karamba among others.
such as the Crested Serpent Eagle and White Bellied Sea Eagle and
water birds such as Lesser Flamingoes, Pelicans, Spoonbill Painted
Stork, Black Necked Stork (of which there are about a dozen in the
country) the Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Purple Coot and
Darter are attracted to the lagoons.
include the mugger, estuarine crocodiles found in the main rivers
and the common monitor. The Cobra, Russell's Viper and a variety of
sea turtles such as the Olive Ridley and Leatherback are also
popular in the park, as the Yala coastline is known to be a major
nesting ground for these turtles. The lagoon fauna include various
species of prawns crabs and fish.
life gradually gets back to normal in the park, visitors hope that
in time the many animals they had spotted before would return soon.
dog at the cemetery is not dead...
is not the time to write about animals you
may say, for it is a time when human beings
are undergoing immense hardship. But look at the face of these
suffering animals and you will realise that there is a message in
there, a plea, that tells it all - that they have feelings too, that
they feel pain, feel hunger and that suffering causes them a misery
that cannot be expressed and that is why we call them 'dumb
brown dog lives in the cemetery at Kohuwala - it is not dead - but
it is dying. It cannot move its hind legs for it has met with a
painful road accident. "A vehicle went over him and it did not
stop," said an onlooker. In pain this dog had dragged itself to
the other side of the road. And it remains this way for days.
its hind legs seem paralysed, possibly by pain. It has no food and
no help. When it is daytime the hot sun burns him and he has no way
of getting to water - besides where can you get water in a cemetery?
it rains, things get worse for him, because he has to remain soaked
and cold for a long time. There is no shelter to which he can drag
himself to other than the tombstones.
this suffering animal ought to be is at a vet, receiving care. What
he ought to get is some shelter and some food. But who has time for
dogs when man is suffering? Very true.
what about the feelings that another being feels? What about the
pain, what about the hunger and the helplessness? If only someone
can be extra human enough to reach out to the suffering that is not
a human being.
rat race and the suffering among human beings is greater, but for
animals it could get worse. Down De Silva Cross Road, near Charles
Apartments are starving dogs - seldom do they get any food. Hungry
and yawning they remain, hoping to kindle some heart. It was barely
a month ago that a female dog had to watch her two brown pups being
crushed to death by a van in a hurry. Pasted to the ground, the
young pups bled to death, from all sides, crooning in pain and
are female dogs everywhere, some are pregnant, some have young ones
hidden somewhere waiting for their mother to arrive to wet their
parched tongues with a drop of milk - but from where can these
animals get food - we are too busy.
busy, that we run over the pups and the kittens on our path and head
on to our own destinations in a hurry.
where will our eventual destination be - we never pause to ponder.
the tsunami an act of God?
tsunami that took place
December 26 - was it due to natural causes or is there a
divine hand behind it? Men of science will say it is due to the
movement of tectonic plates, which caused the earthquake in the sea
off Sumatra. All earthquakes are explainable through geophysical
forces. But people who believe in religion, any religion, must have
an explanation beyond the purely scientific view. All suffering is
due to sin say the Christians while the Buddhists refer to karma. So
is it the karma vipaka of those who died? But is there a collective
karma to explain the large numbers dead through the same event in
can and may intervene with nature
believe that God created the universe and upholds it by His spirit.
He has completed his creation and left the natural forces to operate
according to the laws discovered by scientists. But the Old
Testament refers to several incidents where God has intervened with
the forces of nature to punish mankind because of excessive sin as
in the flood during the time of Noah and in the destruction of Sodom
and Gomorrah for their sexual immorality.
are also instances where God directly intervened with nature to
benefit his people. He divided the Red Sea to enable the Israelites
to cross over dry land and when the Egyptians pursued them the sea
covered them and drowned them. There was Joshua's famous "long
day" when Joshua and the Israelites, in chasing the Gideonites,
had direct assistance from God.
Eternal threw down great stones from heaven upon them as far as
Azekah, and they died; there were more who died because of the
hailstones than the men of Israel killed with the sword"
(Joshua 10: 11).
of these calamities were prophesied on condition that if the people
repented the punishment would not take place. The Fatima prophecies
were also conditional. If the rosary was recited for the conversion
of Russia then Russia would turn from her godless ways said Our Lady
to the three girls at Fatima. Russia has been converted. But there
are the end-time prophecies, which are not conditional.
of the great signs Jesus said would take place during the
tribulation, prior to His return to earth, is "...earthquakes
in various places" (Matthew 24:7).
an act of God?
religiously inclined Christians correct in claiming earthquakes as
divine? Or are some earthquakes (or most) merely the result of
natural forces, with purely physical causes relating to the
structure of the earth itself? Any serious student of science would
argue the latter is true.
as atheists and agnostics would tend to see the mention in the Bible
of earthquakes as the ignorant speculations of ancient seers who
attributed purely natural phenomena to "God." But, if God
is the Creator of "nature," then He is able to interfere
in His creation from time to time if He chooses to do so.
position regarding calamities other than those due at the end times
is not easy to understand because of what Jesus said. He was asked
whether the men who fell under the tower of Siloam were sinners.
Jesus denied it had a divine origin. He explained these unfortunate
creatures were not being singled out as the special objects of God's
wrath. No, they were the victims of purest chance. (Luke 13: 2-5).
he also told those who raised the question that all would die unless
they repented. So it would seem that sinners would be liable to be
punished in this world too unless they repented. So Jesus did not
exclude the punishment of sinners through natural calamities. He
said when we repent, God then intervenes (usually through His
angels; I Corinthians 11: 10) to protect His people from such
circumstances, but explained that these men were not greater sinners
than those who asked him the question.
the case of the Buddhists there is no repentance but only karma
under which bad acts bring their own punishments. So the whole issue
would seem to be irrelevant to Buddhists and Hindus.
becoming morally better or worse?
may say that people are getting morally better. But as pointed out
by Dr. Woodrow Kroll, God doesn't think so and those who look
objectively at the human behaviour in the modern world would agree
with Him. According to the Bible, mankind after the fall of Adam and
Eve transmitted sin from parents to children in the same genetic way
as other biological characteristics. So all human beings born are
prone to sin.
has provided a way of salvation by sending his own son to the world.
This is through belief in Jesus Christ. But such faith also involves
accepting the way of the cross - man must mortify his body instead
of pampering it in sinful ways. If he is prepared to surrender
himself completely and totally to God and follow his will then he
can be saved. But people who misuse their body for immoral purposes
will lose God's grace which is essential to follow his commandments
and live a sin free life.
are some sins, which are particularly repulsive to God, and one of
these relate to sexuality. God condemns homosexuality and
lesbianism. It is for such immorality that God destroyed Sodom and
Gomorrah. It is because of a surfeit of sinful people that God
destroyed the old world during the time of Noah, saving only Noah's
extended family. The last century saw the spread of the so-called
sexual revolution, which has led to widespread immorality in the
West. The sexual mores of the West are now spreading through
globalisation to the Third World as well. Gay marriages have been
legalised in parts of the West.
also considers human life sacred and does not tolerate murder. Today
mass murder is common. While 30,000 were killed by the tsunami there
are said to be about a 1000 abortions every day in Sri Lanka.
was legalised in the West during the last 50 years and the number of
such abortions has sky rocketed after the 1970s. Feminists have
proclaimed a right for the woman to decide the fate of the child in
her womb. The unborn baby has no rights and can be killed wantonly.
ancient societies infanticide was quite common and is still
practised in China and India. But God has said that human life is
sacred and cannot be killed for the convenience of the mother or the
state or any other human being. During the third trimester the
unborn baby can live outside the womb and hence there is no
difference between infanticide and such abortion at least.
sin, which is repulsive to God, is the profanation of His holy name.
Jesus Christ forgave the Jews who killed him. But God abandoned the
Jews and so the Romans destroyed Israel in 70 AD and exiled the
Jews. But God will not abandon them for all time. God promised that
He will bring them back.
Herzl in 1895 claimed to have had a vision from God asking him to
revive the Hebrew language and prepare for the return of the Jews to
Israel. Since the creation of modern Israel in 1948, many Jews from
all over the world have returned. But they are not following God's
commandments and hope to restore Israel by their own efforts, which
have brought forth untold violence.
our own country some ignorant persons have desecrated the holy name
and person of Jesus. A poster ridiculing the baby Jesus appeared
during Christmas in Galle, Matara and Paiyagala. In Britain too
there had been some attempt to belittle the baby Jesus.
chastises man to reform him
people ask are the innocent being destroyed along with the wicked.
In God's eyes man is a sinner. Children maybe innocent. They will
enjoy eternal bliss in heaven and don't have to pass through the
period of trial which is what life on earth is all about. Since man
is prone to sin unless he makes a special effort with the grace of
God, the increase in population means an increase in sin in the
sin multiplies in this way the few good people also suffer and find
it difficult to practise the good life. The few good are at the
mercy of the wicked and many innocent people suffer at the hands of
the wicked. It is then that God acts. His patience has been taxed to
the limit and for the greater good of the innocent He decides to act
and allows calamities.
Christians feel that because of the evil of America, God is using
the Islamic terrorists as a scourge on them. In any case God is not
bound to protect the property of the sinners who break his laws. So
God has a purpose in sending calamities. It is to give human beings
a message that despite their inventions that life on earth is
fragile and that life depends on God's magnanimity. "The spirit
of God is what upholds human life on earth and he is withdrawing his
keeping or preserving power from mankind if they continue to
disregard his laws.
men continue to defy God, ignore his commands, He is left with no
alternative to correct man except through withdrawing his protection
of the universe for man. Men ask how a loving God can bring on such
calamities? But from God's point of view man's sinful conduct is
intolerable and demands some action to call his attention to repent
and change his ways.
each such calamity men have changed their ways at least for a time.
But if they continue to sin then He will send calamities again. God
like a father who wants to change his son's bad behaviour chastises
the sinner. But if the sinner persists in his sin, He abandons him
and then the sinner is free to reach the limits of degradation.
is the God of all
is the God of all men and will not take the side of the Christians
against the Buddhists or the Muslims, or the side of the Americans
against the Iraqis. But he wants his word preached throughout the
world and will not allow men to interfere with this freedom to
preach his word.
wants people to convert to him of their own free will. He does not
want forced or unethical conversions. In fact he has said that
conversion is from his grace. The way to obtain His grace is
available for openhearted men of goodwill.
is the poor and suffering who will accept His word as Jesus
predicted. Many will not accept His word despite the preaching. But
He wants His word preached to all mankind and it would seem to
follow that no Taliban, no Buddhist, Islamic or Hindu
fundamentalists will be allowed to stop the preaching of His word.
R. M. B. Senanayake
topics and dashy driving...
it while it's hot, drop it while it's hot..oooeeooowhooo!
is the current hot favourite in our family, very catchy tune indeed,
pulsating drumbeat. Asked one of my girls for the rest of the words,
and she burst out laughing at the aghast look on my face after
hearing just one line! Are we really listening to what we hear? Or,
if it's pleasing to the ear, do we just accept it and cheerily go
our way ?
shudder to think of what other interesting, educative lyrics our
kids listen to. I mean to say, I like rock music myself, I even
listen to the same radio station as the kids, but this is just too
much! I suppose it's all the rage now, freedom of expression and
that sort of thing. Boom, di di boom,ooeeoooowhooo!!!And hot it is
too, weatherwise, although we're having some evening showers.
extremely convenient for all concerned, if it rains in the night.
Unless of course, you happen to be a vampire bat, an owl, a sloth or
such-like creature. You do not
get up with a start, bathed in perspiration. The energy I am
conserving and the money I am saving on the electricity bill!
Anyway, the main thing is, the brown film of dust covering
everything in sight is washed away, and more green begins to appear.
I think green is a much more soothing colour than brown, much
pleasanter and so cool to the eye.
only problem is, new leaks appear in your roof, and then you are put
in the position of simply begging of the repairman to attend to it.
It seems he is really busy after the tsunami, lots of things to
repair. Oh well, never mind! A bucket with a sponge or towel will
catch the drips, at least we have a roof in the first place, others
are without so much more.
I am hoping the weather will hold up and the rain stops soon. And
why is this, you might ask? It is because I am going to a barbecue,
and there is nothing like having it outdoors. Selfish beast, aren't
I? depriving all those thirsty plants! There is something primordial
about eating under the stars, with meat roasting over a fire,
although nowadays some people have electric grills, how boring and
you think of ancient man, tearing away at a hunk of charred meat
using his teeth and bare hands, sparks flying from the fire. No
cutlery in sight! Did they think to rinse out their mouths ormaybe
they had a lot of bad toothaches? I wonder when they discovered that
salt makes things more palatable?
can just picture the man (beast?) having his fill, and then dragging
the woman by her hair to a nearby cave for his dessert. Rowrrr !!No
such luck today, we shall have lovely, fresh ,cool salads, beautiful
baked potatoes, warm bread and tender meat with a choice of several
sauces. All this of course on china plates with cutlery.
females would go into hysterics if they broke a nail! That beautiful
French manicure they paid so much for! Such are the trials of modern
life.I simply have to tell you about this friend of mine who lives
in England. She suffers from compulsive shopping disorder.
those of you who are ignorant about this malady, please seek proper
medical advice. I am not too sure I know the exact cause and the
resulting symptoms of this disease, but I was never one for
misleading the public. That is why I am not a politician, even
though my husband was convinced that was the one profession for me.
was because my driving instructor would take me daily on the
Parliament Road and back. So I knew how to navigate this course with
ease, but unfortunately had this tendency elsewhere to drive into
roadside taps, lamp posts, trees, chickens, cats, etc. I was
politely and firmly told to use the chauffeur which he had so
considerately got for me! But I have gone off on a tangent. Anyway,
this friend of mine has withdrawal symptoms if she doesn't shop at
least three times a week. Her husband is like Sherlock Holmes,
trying to figure out if she has shopped or not that day! (He has to
foot the bills most often.)
heard that there was this Gucci sale at Harrods, and there was she,
trying to save money, when she heard a horrified shout, "Muum!
What on earth, are you doing here?" Of all days, her daughter
and British friends had decided to collect money for the Sri Lankan
tsunami victims outside Harrods!! She says she was so embarrassed,
she was wondering what the other kids would tell their parents about
this callous behaviour! Whilst they were shivering in the cold, this
frivolous lady was shopping!
she earnestly informed me she really did her bit, collected a lot of
stuff, was involved in fund raisers etc. but, I mean, Harrods, I
mean, half price, I mean, Gucci!!!... We all forgive you, after all,
we know you suffer from this terrible, incurable disease! Another
friend of mine, also in Britain, is involved in organising a
Bollywood style dance to collect funds for the Sri Lankan tsunami
victims. Having fun for a worthy cause! Keep it up, girls!
Honky Tonk Woman
ancient temple is a place of study and refuge for children today
Dharisha Bastians in Ampara
Pottuvil's harsh mid afternoon heat,
two small samaneras sit among the ruins of what appears to have once
been a temple or monument of some kind. The young monks are busy
teaching children in the neighbourhood, many of them now homeless
thanks to the tsunami, to read. Close as it is to the ocean, the
temple complex and ruins survived the devastating wave, largely
thanks to the protective sand dunes in front of it and the
sheltering branches of a tall Margosa tree atop.
closely intertwined the legend of these ancient ruins are with the
devastation along the eastern shores today is little known.
thousand years ago, the last time giant waves threatened to engulf
parts of the country, the ruler of Maya Rata did the only thing he
knew to appease the wrath of the sea gods. He gave up his beautiful
daughter, Devi as a sacrifice unto the sea, hoping to save his
people from the punishing waves. Satisfied, the sea gods calmed the
tumultuous ocean and spared the princess' life. For weeks she
remained at sea, allowing the waves to take her where they willed.
sailed around the south of the island, finally, she was washed
ashore, golden canoe and all, on the island's east coast, in the
ancient kingdom of Ruhuna.
mark the spot that the princess' boat landed, the people in the area
erected a stupa and around it, monuments of the princess and the
king who later took her for his bride. It stands there even today,
what the people called the Muhudu Maha Viharaya or "temple by
the sea." Not even the tsunami which ruined most parts of
Ampara's coastline could touch the viharaya, sheltered as it was by
high sand dunes and the protective branches of a tall neem tree.
port of Princess Devi's landing has long since been a bone of
contention for historians. A great many people believe that the
princess landed in Kirinda, in the Hambantota District, closer to
where the capital of Ruhuna, Mahagama is believed to be. But local
legend and folklore in the Ampara District holds that the daughter
of King Kelanitissa first landed on the shores of Pottuvil, and it
was here that King Kavantissa first saw the princess and was
captivated by her beauty.
to the legend, when the people saw the princess having washed
ashore, they ran to the king and informed him that the ocean had
given up a boat with a beautiful lady inside and urged the monarch
to come and see her. King Kavantissa followed the people and upon
arriving at the shore he asked "ko kumari?" (where is the
princess?) and that was how the spot in Pottuvil, Komarigama came by
highlight of the temple are three statues that stand tall among the
ruins. Facing a standing monument of Lord Buddha are two smaller
statues of a man and woman. These are believed to be torsos of King
Kavantissa and his Queen. Princess Devi was later bestowed the
title, 'Vihara Maha' in honour of her self-sacrificing mission to
save the country from the fury of the waves. Much of the ruins are
covered in sand, save for several tall pillars erected from brick
around the three statues. The ruins of what are believed to be a
dagoba and a pond are also visible inside the complex.
the tsunami, tourists to the area often take the short road that
leads from Pottuvil town down to the ocean. This is not surprising;
many believe that it was a tsunami that had driven the King of Maya
to sacrifice his daughter to the unrelenting sea so many thousands
of years ago. Having been shocked to the core by the devastation
wreaked by the tsunami that hit last year, the reality of King
Kelanitissa's plight hit home hard. So now, Muhudu Maha Viharaya,
long forgotten in the throes of an ethnic conflict has become real
for visitors to the area once more.
then and now
it was indeed a tsunami that Princess Devi was sacrificed to 2000
years ago, her act of self-sacrifice heralded in for the nation an
era of unity and prosperity.
the union between Princess Devi and Kavantissa, King of Ruhuna, was
born Prince Gemunu, later known as King Dutugemunu, hero of the
Great Chronicle for having defeated Chola rulers in the north and
united Lanka. Despairing over the modern devastation wreaked by the
tsunami of 2004, do we dare hope that this tragedy will in some way,
unite this nation, now so divided?
mourning period is over..."
lawyer was shocked by the tsunami, but one month after, he is
even more appalled by the way the whole issue of aid is being
handled in Sri Lanka today.
of Countrywatch, Lalith Ganlath has sprung into the spotlight
in this hour of need.
problem with the current situation is Sri Lanka's inability to
manage things. Our disaster management is extremely poor, we
are unable to harness the enormous amount of aid that has come
in to the country by way of finance, by way of goods and
services," said Ganlath.
an effort we might take at least six months to get things off
the ground, as it stands today," observed Ganlath.Lalith
Ganlath is actively involved in providing help to women,
children and families in general who have lost their houses
out victorious freom a disastrous situation" - Ganlath
whole world is sympathising with us and helping us. It gives us all
the opportunity to get actively involved in helping the victims of
the tsunami," he said.
said that the people who are rendered destitute because of the
tsunami are suffering untold sorrow because their homes were
destroyed and their families separated. They are unable to engage in
the work that they are used to; and being confined to refugee camps,
has made matters worse, he said.
it is learnt that the people in refugee camps are now being shifted
to other old buildings because some schools have to be 're-opened.'
people who have lost their homes and belongings remain helpless.
They cannot complain, but have to comply whether they like it or
not. So many changes in such a short time - losing their homes,
their belongings, their families and now changing venues to places
that the authorities decide. Can this be healthy to the human mind,
however poor they may be?
people are severely affected mentally and physically. In the worst
case scenario, they may end up as permanent beggars in time to come
without any will to fend for themselves," pointed out Ganlath.
went on to say that therein lies the danger - the danger that leads
to cultural poverty.
said that Sri Lanka at this stage must encourage and welcome any
person or organisation willing to help.
and continued coordination is necessary with all the agencies that
have come in; possibly through their respective embassies and all
international funding organisations," observed Ganlath.
Ganlath went on to say that the government must now formulate
policies with regard to relocation of schools, settling of the
displaced children and encourage people who have been self-employed
to get back to their normal daily routine.
resettlement schemes must take into consideration all the new
legislations that would come into place with regard to the coastline
laws," he said.
however lamented over the absence of a proper set of regulations to
regulations that have been promulgated must percolate down to the
people affected by the tsunami," said Ganlath.
went on to caution that this is not a time for party politics.
ministers, provincial councillors and legislators must have one view
and one voice to get out of this situation. They must not have
divergent views with political motivation," said Ganlath.
said that as the founder member of Countrywatch, he has grouped
together with civic minded people. "We are seriously going
ahead with plans to set up a centre to counsel and help young
persons who are affected. We will begin an orphanage and seek
sponsorship oversees. We hope to give these helpless children all
the comforts including education, clothing, food and whatever other
necessities they may require. Our intention is to bring them up in a
secure, comfortable place with qualified staff. All this could only
be done with the necessary government approval," said this
we have faced floods and droughts, we have never experienced a tidal
wave of such enormity. This is not a time for despondency. The
mourning period if over - it is a time for reconciliation,
rebuilding and coming out of a disastrous situation,
victorious," said Ganlath.
month after the tsunami, hundreds of people in refugee camps
remained confined to the camp-life. "We are not allowed to move
out. The stench is unbearable. I fear for my children," said a
father of five children living in the Janajaya camp in Ratmalana.
to people living in camps in and around Colombo will reveal that
they lead lives of prisoners. For people who have been living in
their own homes, living without a cup of tea, a little milk for
their little ones when they need it and a biscuit when they feel
like it, has made this community living a horror.
as we all know, however poor or humble it may be - there definitely
is no place like home.
what do we do about the people who have lost their homes? And when?
revisits tale of three tragedies
marks its saddest days
of the year over the coming week, beginning with the 38th
anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, which killed three astronauts and
set back America's rush to the moon by 21 months.
week of triple tragedy continues with the 19th anniversary of the
Challenger explosion recently and next Tuesday's second anniversary
of the Columbia's disintegration. Each of those disasters killed
seven astronauts and grounded the rest of the shuttle fleet for more
than two years.
human spaceflight programme still has not fully recovered from
Columbia's loss, but the agency is on track to resume shuttle
flights in May.
mark the occasions, NASA Administrator, Sean O'Keefe will lead a
'Day of Remembrance' ceremony at the space agency's headquarters.
last year's remembrances, the crew members of Columbia and
Challenger were memorialised at Arlington National Cemetery and even
on Mars - and O'Keefe exhorted NASA employees to remember
"every single day that the consequences of us not getting it
right are catastrophic." That message is likely to be
underlined this year.
the current gap in shuttle flights, investigators have delved into
the causes of the Columbia tragedy, just as their predecessors did
for Apollo 1 and Challenger. After each of the three tragedies,
causes were found and changes were made:
Apollo 1: The fire that broke out during a launch-pad test on
January 27, 1967 was caused by an electrical short circuit and fed
by a high-oxygen atmosphere within the crew cabin. The three
astronauts - Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee and Ed White - were trapped
inside the cabin due to a poorly designed escape hatch. As a result
of the investigation, more than 1,000 changes were made in the
command module's design.
Challenger: On the exceptionally cold morning of January 28, 1986
gaps in the seals on Challenger's solid rocket boosters provided an
opening for hot rocket exhaust to flare out and ignite the shuttle's
liquid fuel tank, sparking a fiery explosion that blew the orbiter
apart. All seven crew members - Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Ellison
Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Ron McNair, Greg Jarvis and space teacher
Christa McAuliffe - died in the fiery fall on January 28, 1986.
Shuttle components were redesigned and launch procedures were
Columbia: Investigators say a piece of flying foam from the
shuttle's fuel tank knocked a hole in the leading edge of Columbia's
left wing during the shuttle's ascent, allowing hot gases to enter
and destroy the shuttle from within during its re-entry 16 days
later, on February 1, 2003. The seven crew members - Rick Husband,
William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla,
Laurel Clark and Israel's Ilan Ramon - were all killed. The shuttle
fuel tank has been redesigned, and new procedures provide more
opportunities for inspection and backup, although there is still no
proven method for fixing a Columbia-scale gap in the shuttle's skin.
all three cases, NASA's management approach came in for as much
criticism as the specific causes of each accident. During the Apollo
days, the tendency to launch without resolving all the safety
questions was called "go fever." After Challenger and
Columbia, NASA was taken to task yet again for an overly lax
attitude toward safety, made tragically clear in retrospect.
time around, NASA says that it's addressing what the Columbia
Accident Investigation Board called a "broken safety
culture," and if top managers can't adjust, they'll have to go.
all the parallels linking NASA's three tragedies, the aftermath of
the Columbia's loss is subtly different: Apollo 1 caught fire at the
very beginning of the Apollo programme, and Challenger blew up
toward the start of the shuttle programme. After Challenger, the
shuttle Endeavour was built to bring the shuttle fleet back to its
full strength of four.
contrast, NASA is not planning to build a replacement for Columbia.
Rather, the Columbia tragedy brought home the message that the
fleet's days were numbered.
bean plants sprout messages
wanted to say "I love you" and never found the words? Well
now you can buy a plant that says it for you.
Japanese manufacturers, toy makers Tomy and Takara, have both
produced bean plants which sprout to reveal a special message.
said its plant was "a new type of message card to convey your
feelings to your loved ones," according to the French news
gift comes with a choice of six different messages such as 'Good
Luck' and 'I Love You' inscribed through the plant with a laser
offering features beans set in a white egg which "hatch"
soon after they are put in water. The plants have a message in
French on one side, and a message in Japanese on the other.
can have the fun of fortune telling, as you don't know what message
will come out until the bean sprouts," Tomy told AFP.
plants will be on sale in February.
at new climate warning
temperatures could rise
by as much as 11 degrees Celsius, according to one of the largest
climate prediction projects ever run.
figure is twice the level that previous studies have suggested.
scientists behind the project, called climateprediction.net, say it
shows there is no such thing as a safe level of carbon dioxide.
results of the study, which used PCs around the world to produce
data, are published in the journal Nature.
is run from Oxford University, and is a distributed computing
project; rather than using a supercomputer to run climate models,
people can download software to their own PCs, which run the
programmes during downtime.
than 95,000 people have registered, from more than 150 countries;
their PCs have between them run more than 60,000 simulations of
future climate. Each PC runs a slightly different computer
simulation examining what happens to the global climate if levels of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere double from pre-industrial levels -
which may happen by the middle of the century.
vary most between the simulations are the precise nature of physical
processes like the extent of convection within tropical clouds - a
process which drives the transport of heat around the world.
no two simulations will produce exactly the same results; overall,
the project produces a picture of the possible range of outcomes
given the present state of scientific knowledge. The lowest rise
which climateprediction.net finds possible is two degrees Celsius,
ranging up to 11 degrees.
timescale would depend on how quickly the doubling of CO2 was
reached, but large rises would be on a scale of a century at least
from now. "I think these results suggest that our need to do
something about climate change is perhaps even more urgent,"
the climateprediction.net Chief Scientist, David Stainforth told BBC
with our current state of knowledge, we can't yet define a safe
level in the atmosphere." Last week, the International Climate
Change Taskforce, co-chaired by the British MP Stephen Byers,
claimed it had shown that a carbon dioxide concentration of over 400
ppm (parts per million) would be 'dangerous.' The current
concentration is around 378 ppm, rising at roughly 2ppm per year.
week the UK Meteorological Office hosts an international conference,
Stabilisation 2005, announced by Tony Blair late last year. Its aim
is to discuss what the term "dangerous" global warming
really means, and to look at ways to stabilise greenhouse gas
levels. Myles Allen, the principal investigator of
climateprediction.net, said the focus on stabilisation might not be
appropriate. "Stabilisation as an exclusive target may not be
adequate," he told BBC News. "Stephen Byers claims to know
that 400 ppm is the maximum 'safe' level; what we show is that it
may be impossible to pin down a safe level, and therefore we should
not focus exclusively on stabilisation."
computing has been used before, notably by the Search for
Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence or Seti, where several million people
have downloaded software enabling them to analyse data from
observations of distant galaxies for signs of alien life. The
scientists behind climateprediction.net believe their project,
because it is distributed to individual PCs, can help inform people
about climate change - and that, in turn could bring political
is very difficult to get politicians to collaborate, not only across
the globe but also over sustained lengths of time," Bob Spicer
from the Earth Sciences Department at the Open University, told BBC
News. "The people who can hold politicians to account are the
public; and with this project we are bringing cutting-edge science
to the stakeholders, the public."