On Saturday –New Year’s Day– I rode in a large truck pulling a trailer loaded with some 40 boxes of donations from friends and family contacts in Arizona.
It all happened in a few days. Day 1: Tanu had made a few calls. I sent off a few emails. Sri Lanka Delight, the restaurant in LA (referred by the locals as the ‘Kade’) had said we could send a few boxes in a container leaving in a few days. Perhaps, we thought 3 big boxes wouldn’t be too expensive if we sent it via Fedex. But this was not to be. Day 2: People started arriving at our home dropping off boxes and large black bags of stuff, cans of food, bags of medicine, cases of infant formula, packs feeding bottles etc –so much so that we had to park our cars outside the garage. The fedex option was now out of the question.
Day 3: someone –in this amazing friend-of-a-friend network— came forward saying they had been praying for Sri Lanka and wondered how they could help. The husband had just got a new job at Microsoft. They offered to drive us in a huge Ford F250 with a trailer if we needed. We jumped at it, and continued to stack the garage.
Day 4: A TV station came a calling. Tanu refused to be on camera. We tried telling Channel 12 this was futile as the real story was all about them in Sri Lanka, and not about us. But if you know how the evening news works you know they want the sob story. I do appreciate their concern, but they stole a goood 2 hours of the day I had taken off from work. Packing and sorting takes time. ASU students come to help. A vendor nearby offered empty boxes. My British friend and his stepfather from 2 house up the street left their dinner to help us stack the boxes on the truck.
Day 5: 6.30 am, Don and Barbara Hiatt arrive at 6.30 am. The I-10 freeway is terribly foggy; they begin to pray we get there safely. I call my cousin Tania’s husband (and fellow Peterite) Chari, who offers to come and help us unload the truck and trailer. In 6 hours, we are in Tarzana, a town in the San Fernando valley. Ahead of us was a Uhaul from the Buddhist temple in LA, with guys and even Buddhist priests loading up the container. Behind us pull up about 2 other large trucks waiting for space.
The giving hasn’t subsided. A doctor came by twice to our house with some antibiotics and portable water purification units. He had somehow got my email forwarded to him. This morning, a dentist called saying they can help, too. Every one wants to help. The bank branch I go to, the Starbucks round the corner, my former boss at work leaves an envelope in my drawer, my sister’s boss wants to chip in, my corporate office, a magazine I write for, a printer, all pledge.
I have always believed, that in spite of the dark cloud hanging over us right now, there are tons of positive stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Not just in this country, but everywhere. Anyone who for a moment believes the rot put out in the media that America is being stingy, please speak to me. I am sure there are similar stories out there too. At least 2 people wrote to me from the UK, via this blog, saying they want to a contact in SL because someone is going over for relief work.
Sri Lanka may be one of the unluckiest countries on earth to be smitten by a tsunami just when the war had eased up. But God does work in marvelous ways, and I am optimistic that we will someday lift up our heads again.
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