Sir, - Regarding "Political struggle hinders aid in Sri Lanka after tsunami"
News, 3 June): I have recently returned from tsunami- relief ministry with
the Church of Ceylon in Sri Lanka, through USPG, and at the invitation of the
Bishop of Colombo, the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera. I have seen at first hand
just a fraction of the relief work that is being carried out by clergy and lay
people throughout the diocese, which extends around the entire coastline of the
I was based on the Jaffna peninsular, where there are two large Anglican
foundation schools. Their own resources are very limited; nevertheless, the
Tamil students (of whom about 20 per cent are Christians) are regularly
bringing in contributions in money and kind, which the Chaplain and teachers
are distributing to four tsunami-devastated schools on the north and north-east
coast, and giving small grants to needy fishing families who have lost their
homes, boats, and livelihood.
The Anglican schools are also arranging for pupils who have lost relatives
and friends to spend long weekends in their own homes and happy school
environment. The possibilities for link-ups in our own parishes through prayer
and giving are numerous.
Accompanied by two local clergy, I also visited areas controlled by the LTTE
(the Tamil Tigers) and saw the devastation caused by both war and wave. These
clergy travel very long distances, often on bicycles or motorcycles in intense
heat, to be with people whom others have not yet reached. Members of the Mothers
' Union in Colombo are taking vanloads of supplies to the south and east
coastal regions, and running workshops for women trying to cope with looking
after babies and children in refugee-camp conditions, with the threat of
monsoon rains shortly.
They have gratefully received funding for these missions of mercy from Mary
I returned, feeling deeply privileged and humbled by the long-term
dedication shown by the Church of Ceylon, not only to tsunami relief work, but
to promoting interfaith co-operation, conflict resolution, and care for the
poorest of the poor on their island, which exudes the presence of God in the
midst of both beauty and destruction.
Chaplain to the Mothers' Union, diocese of Winchester
St Peter's House,
25 Ashley Common Road, New Milton BH25 5AJ