15 years after the desastrous tsunami
15 years after the catastrophe: Exactly on December 26, 2004, on 2nd Christmas Day, the disastrous tsunami broke out, flooded large parts of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, even parts of the African east coast and claimed a total of approximately 230,000 lives. That was the trigger for our project work at schools in Sri Lanka, initiated by the late Lord Mayor of Neuwied, Nikolaus Roth and our former manager, Mr. Sagara Abegunewardene, who died on last New Year’s Day 2019, and whom we think of with gratitude today. Neuwied-Matara Friendship Association has always been active since that time and clearly shows that early help was not a flash in the pan, but that all of us in this community are still burning and interested in continuing the projects that have already helped many people, families, children, schools, … to tackle their lives and shape their future.
On the fourth Sunday in Advent, I reported on our projects and sponsorship work in the parish church of St. Georg in Urmitz-Rhein (my home village). Instead of a sermon, visitors heard how it all started and how many projects have already been implemented. A small flyer provided the most important information and contact details. The collection will be made available to our Association for its further work in Matara-Sri Lanka. Fortunately, some individual donations have already been received. Thank you very much for that.
Our goddaughter Ridmi, who has been living with us for 18 months and is following her dual studies, lost her father in the course of this disaster 15 years ago and had become an orphan on that very day. So, her first visit today, was to the Buddhist Center in Wassenach, where she could pray and commemorate according to the Buddhist rite.
In her host family, of course, German Christmas is really celebrated with a Christmas tree, family meals and gifts. But some Buddhists in Sri Lanka also like our customs that accompany the Christmas season. Of course, it will be difficult in Sri Lanka to find a real Christmas tree, which can only be represented by a small plastic tree due to the lack of conifers.
For scholarship student Nethra, who, two days ago, received the long-awaited desk, chair and shelf from her German godfather Andreas, it must have been like surprising Christmas presents for us. And that all this was exactly matching on Christmas Eve, was also a wonderful present for the godfather – as he said – … “because the joy we give is returning to our hearts!”