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Marist Bulletin - Number 182


Stories from the children at Payagala - Tsunami in South East Asia

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Yashitas Story
My name is Yashita. I am living in the southern part of Sir Lanka. I am in Grade 4 and studying in Holy Cross College, Kalutara.
On 26th December 2004, I was attending Holy Mass with my family in the parish church. The Mass was a little long due to Christmas celebrations. I was very happy because it was the second day after Christmas. After Mass, when we came out into the church compound, I saw the first wave coming towards us. In a loud voice I shouted to my mother water is coming. We were in panic. We didnt know where to go and how to escape. Everyone was confused and running here and there. Parents were shouting at their children and the children were crying with fear.
My mother pulled my arm and ran towards the road. Unfortunately the water was coming from the same direction therefore it was very difficult for us to reach the road. The waves were coming like giants. I had never seen this much water running towards the town. The wave hit me so badly I couldnt keep my balance and fell down into the water. Still we beat the waves and reached the bus stop and managed to get into a bus and escape.
On that day my whole family was scattered. We were not sure about each others life. My mother and I embraced each other and cried. I was so frightened and worried about my younger sister, brother and father. Throughout the day I thought that maybe they had become victims of the waves. It was in the evening that we found each other again and knew that we were all safe. I was so happy.
Now in the night time I hear the cries of the people and the noise of the giant waves. I get very afraid and cannot sleep. Maybe I wont forget this terrible scene in all my life.
After some days when we came back to see our property, I saw that our house is no longer there. It is completely demolished. Our TV, books, pens, coloured pencils, bag, bicycle, bat and ball and collection box - everything was washed away. My dreams have also been broken but I believe God will help me in some ways.
Now we need a new house, proper food and things for school. My father can no longer go fishing and has no job. Who will provide these things? I dont know.

Rasanjans Story
My name is Rasanjan. Now our family is living in Magonna camp. Before we were living in Katukurunda where our house was. I am in Year 12 at Holy Cross College, Kalutara.
After the tsunami, I have lost my father, my grandmother and my house. My father was paralysed. I used to help wash him and take him to the toilet. Our house was close to the sea shore. Only my mother was working in a small company. She was getting only a small salary which was not enough to run our family but somehow we managed with that money. What else could we do? My father couldnt work. But we had a happy life.
On 26th December in the early morning, I was sitting outside our house and watching the sea. Suddenly I noticed a big wave coming towards my house. At that time my mother was not in the house, only my father and grandmother.
When the wave came, I ran from the house towards the road which is on higher ground. As I rushed, I forgot my father and grandmother. Only when the wave went back towards the water did I think of them. Then I ran towards my house but when I reached there, the house was destroyed. I couldnt see my father and grandmother. At once I was shocked and cried out in a loud voice but there was nothing I could do. Only after a long time could we take out their bodies. I dont know what will happen to me because of this.
Now my mother and I are living in Magonna camp. I dont know how long we will have to stay here. I dont want to say anymore.

Dilaths Story
I am Dilath from Payagala. We have three children in the family. My father is a fisherman and we had our own boat and nets for fishing.
On the 26th morning, my mother was preparing breakfast and we were all getting ready for mass when I saw the water from the sea coming close to the railway track. Some people were standing there watching what was happening. After a few minutes there was another wave about 15feet high which came up to the houses. When I saw that I started running with my family. While we were running I looked back and saw a huge wave, maybe 50feet high, coming towards us. I shouted to my family to run fast and everywhere people were shouting and running. We managed to escape but in the evening we returned to see that everything was washed away. People were crying and some were sitting stunned in the places where their houses used to be.
At our house, nothing is left - no house, boat, nets, books, clothes, nothing. I was thinking, What is this? There is nothing. How will I do my study? What will we eat? Where will we live? Around us on the road were the bodies of dead animals. Then we went to the camp at Magonna. There were many families. Some of them lost family members, some of them their children and most of us lost our house and businesses. I know with the tsunami I lost my future, my hope to become something in life. My parents lost their work and how can they give good care to their family?
When I was interviewed by the Brothers of my school and asked to tell them about the tsunami, again I was in tears and thinking, what to say? Where to start? After listening to my story, they gave me hope that they will help us in some ways. I dont know what is going to happen. Living in the camp, it is too hard to believe this kind of life. I dont know how long we will have to live here and how we are going to build a house. My father doesnt have any job to earn money for us to live and who is going to help us. I cannot see anything ahead of me which is going to happen soon except living in the camp and waiting for someone to come.

Saleems Story
I am Saleem. Now I am staying in Magonna camp. I was living in Kalutara. I am a Year 11 student. In my family we were four people. Now only my sister and I are alive. My parents died.
When the tsunami took place, my father was about to go fishing. My mother was helping my father get ready to go out. My sister and I were playing on the beach. My mother asked me to go and buy some rice, bread and vegetables from the market. My sister asked if she could go with me. So we went to the market. We were not far from the house when I heard some people shouting and running towards us. I didnt know what to do. I went back to our house which is very near the sea. It was full of water. My sister and I were crying and calling out to our parents. We couldnt find them.
One of our neighbours came and took us. We were crying as we went with them. I saw a big wave, more than 20feet high, coming behind us. Then my neighbour carried my sister and we ran. Luckily, we were saved from the tsunami but it took my parents lives and so many people as well.
Whenever I see the sea, the tsunami comes to my mind. My uncle is going to take care of us and we will need to move to his town Puttalam, a long way away.

Sumars Story
I am Sumar and I was living between the lagoon and the sea in Kalutara. It was Sunday and I was getting ready to go the tuition coaching centre. When I was still in the house I heard people shouting loudly. I thought there might be a fight but almost at the same time I saw the waters coming into my home. I realised something was bad.
We all came out from the house and saw the second wave coming towards us. We were shocked and started to run for safety. After this second wave, the sea started to drop far below its normal level. Some people ran to see this. It was nearly 100feet lower than normal. Then the third wave came with enormous speed. It was huge. It hit all our houses and swept them away. I went to see my home but there was nothing. My father went to look for our boat but it was no longer a boat, simply a collection of wood.
After some time we went to the refugee camp. All we could was cry. In the refugee camp I cannot sleep very well. The mosquitoes are terrible and sometimes we dont eat. I am going to school and my friends have lent me some books to study.

Lakmals Story
I am Lakmal, 16 years old. We are five in my family - father, mother, two sisters and myself. My father is a fisherman and mother stays in the house. I am in Grade 11 and my sisters are in Grades 5 and 7. Until last month we were living in Payagala but now we live at Magonna in a temple.
On 26th December morning around 9.30 we came home after attending Sunday mass. Our home is very close to the sea. One of my younger sisters said that the sea was not as usual and after a few minutes we saw an enormous wave of water rising from the sea and coming towards us. There was no time to think about anything, no time to take anything from our home. So we started to run towards the village inland.
We five in our family managed to escape. In our village some people were killed and many were injured. Our home was flattened by the tidal waves. We had two fishing boats and now we dont have anything. We lost everything.
In these days we are living in a temple close to Magonna with other people who lost their houses. In the camp I find it very hard to do my studies and other schoolwork because there is no electricity services. But the other things are OK. We hope to leave this place as soon as possible and live in our own house.

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