Buddhist monk pleads for help

by Ariadne Massa, The Times (Malta), Aug 22, 2005

Malta -- A Maltese woman is on a mission to help a Buddhist monk and his family who are living in a tattered sheet tent in Sri Lanka after losing everything in the Boxing Day tsunami.

Krista Henderson met Sanjeeva two years ago when she flew to Sir Lanka to study Ayruveda and yoga - he was the group's tutor in Buddhist meditation and mindful living.

"He was very inspirational and exuded peace. He is a genuine, humble man who was always ready to help. Now he's the one who badly needs help," she said.

When Ms Henderson returned to Malta she remained in touch with Sanjeeva but thought the worst when she didn't hear from him after the tsunami hit South East Asia.

However, she recently received an e-mail from him pleading for help after his family's house was completely flattened and they were left with nothing.

Though the Sri Lankan government received a lot of financial help from international communities, including Malta, many Sri Lankans, among them Sanjeeva, have received a pittance.

"From the government side they gave us enough money to buy kitchen utensils, and supplied food stamps for three months. That for getting dry rations from the multi purposes shops," he wrote in broken English to Ms Henderson.

"Up to now the government not giving us help to rebuild our houses. At the beginning they provide food and clothes for us, and temporary shelters. That's it," he added.

Recounting what happened on that fateful day in the early hours of December 26, 2004, Sanjeeva said he was bathing when he heard his sister shouting that seawater was rushing into their house.

"I saw huge waves washing over the village. I was afraid. I remember only one little girl inside the home. I ran in to the room, took the little baby in my hands and shouted to the others to run to safety," he wrote.

Sanjeeva and his family raced with the other villagers to the top of a mount, but a couple of his relatives died and their village was destroyed.

The rest is a sad story many have heard over the past months.

"Somehow people of the countryside came with cooked meals and gave us clothes. In the evening of the same day I went with my father to see the house - there was nothing, everything had gone with the water. I was so sad and I don't know how I tell you my feeling that moment," he added.

For five months Sanjeeva lived in a refugee camp with 900 others, sharing a common toilet and well water.

"Now my family members and I are living in a temporary sheet tent and very small wood house given by the French community. They gave all transitional residence for our village. Still we don't have a permanent place to live," he said.

Ms Henderson is reiterating his plea for help to the Maltese public in the hope of helping Sanjeeva rebuild his life and home.

Those who wish to help can send a donation to the Bank of Valletta account 40014529692. For more information e-mail to: krista@onvol.net.