The time to volunteer is here

Can we just pause and reflect on what the rains have really done to our country in 2011? We are all aware of the immediate damage it has done but dare I say that reading news about the floods actually brought a smile to my face? Before you spit in repulsion at this column let me explain.

As soon as the first heavy rains hit our country as early as November 2010 there was live footage and full coverage of the weather situation in the various affected parts. When it became evident that this was not just a particularly bad monsoon season, that people needed help and they needed it fast, the local response was sharp and immediate. It is only natural that Sri Lankans were eager to help their fellow Sri Lankans in a time of need and crisis so what is surprising about this situation?

For countless years the physical and verbal communication between different pockets of Sri Lanka has been hindered by lack of technology, infrastructure, general access and even of people willing to do anything about it. Now, however, the situation is very different and we see that manifested in the general public’s awareness and relief efforts. I feel encouraged that there are so many people enthusiastic to help out and there are so many ways of doing so.

Since it is now physically easier to get to these areas, relief efforts have been easier to carry out. Travel is faster than in earlier times, the administration overseen by the various charities are more transparent because there is proper footage of where donations are going, and more people hear about the dire need of supplies because of this ease of communication.

There is a life that the people who have been displaced must now lead. The recovery efforts after the tsunami were unsatisfactory to say the least – let us not repeat that. We cannot, as Sri Lankans, allow our fellow citizens to continue in camps and makeshift shelters. As a nation renowned for its textile industry we cannot let people die because they do not have clothes to keep them warm. Children need to continue with school, adults need ways to keep their families fed until they can recuperate their agricultural losses. These communities need to know that they are part of a bigger family that will give them what they need to rebuild their foundation because their foundation is the same as ours: if one part collapses, we all collapse together.

STITCH is assisting with the flood relief efforts and will appreciate any support to make sure these people get all the help they need. A first dispatch has already been sent. We hope to send items consisting of dry rations, medication, sanitary items and linen. If you would like to contribute in any way or volunteer during this time please email volunteer@stitchmovement.com or visit our website www.stitchmovement.com

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