This post originally appeared in Colombo Telegraph. Visit https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/us-them-flash-floods-in-the-northern-sri-lanka-aftermath/
The news about the North being badly affected by flash floods last weekend did not appear in the Sinhala and English press till 48 hours as far as I saw. Not even the websites that publish rubbish gossip immediately after some minute juicy news were worried about what is happening to the people in the North. Most parts of the North have 4G, 3G or at least 2G and anyone can get pictures and videos in a few seconds. But not even those Facebook heroes were interested in doing something to our brothers and sisters in the Up North. Do we want to have North – South division once again?
When a natural disaster happens in the South all TV Channels and Radio Stations collect relief aids and deliver them to the affected with much fanfare in a rat race to say “We did it first” and crave for increasing their ratings for their media houses. But I don’t see that urge this time. Now don’t say that the media houses in the North don’t cover this type of catastrophes in the South in their media. If we are the so called “majority” and the Big Brother, don’t we have to take the initiative to extend our support to the “minority” Little Sister? Isn’t this the right moment for us to show our love and compassion to them?
This is high time we forgot the “US and THEM” attitude and become “WE” instead.
I can’t do much. All I did was contacting the chief monks of Mahawilachchiya and Tantirimale so that they could mobilize the villagers and muster some relief aid and deliver it to our friends in the North. They did it during tsunami in a big way. I am sure they will do it this time too even though they underwent a long drought and have nothing much to offer. But they have compassion. I am sure you all have it too.
I talked to a friend of mine in Kilinochchi, Miss Dekala Murugesu, a young volunteer who does a lot to uplift education in the district with some supporters in the Diaspora. She directed me to Mr. Raj Sivaraj, the Divisional Secretary of Kandawalai who does the coordinating part of relief aids. He says the government has taken care of food needs and all they need is things like sanitary stuff, soap mosquito coils, toothpaste and tooth brush, disinfections, cleaning liquid, rubber slippers, exercise books and other school supplies, etc. Do not worry about food.
According to the people I talked to from the North, all three armed forces are doing a commendable job and the people highly appreciate them. The armed forces can take care of rescue missions, urgent needs, etc. but now it is our duty to help with the other needs of the people.
Please call Mr. Raj Sivaraj, the Divisional Secretary of Kandawalai on 077 8446465 and on Whatsapp number 0094778446465 for more details.
All the photos here were sent by Mr. Raj Sivaraj.
A part of this story’s title “Us and Them” was stolen from Benjamin Zephaniah‘s poem “Us and Dem.” Zephaniah is my favorite contemporary poet.