Feb 7th On the ground update

Dear Friends,

Greetings. This mail comes to you after our very successful trip to Colombo in clearing 2 containers – both same size 40’- send by Nanpan for tsunami relief work. Each container had 4 lorry loads of relief items (usable cloths, tin food, medicine etc.). We had a  very hard time. At one point we were advised to hand over the container for Social Ministry and Health Ministry for distribution and we thought we have to do so. According to the new policy by the Sri Lankan government all the relief containers have to be hand over to the Government for distribution. Your prayers, calls, encouragement were kept me going. At one point I decide that I should take the container into my hand for delivery with any cost because the container carries not only the goods but also the love, care, concern and emotion of the people who are given, collected, work hard to send the containers. Several of you contact your friends, contacts to influence the authorities to clear the containers. I can’t explain how I have moved at the time of this battle through your words saying ‘we are praying’. According to our knowledge we are the only people other than the INGO’s who have taken the container for delivery. We have paid 100,000/=(US$1000) as duty to clear the both containers. But we have not paid any penalty for the delivery. Mr.Velauthampillai (Ranjith’s father in Law) was a great help to me and he has always with me in the clearance process.


How we made this possible? It’s interesting.  I met Mr.Mahinda Calbage the Custom Officer, Baggage Office on 27th regarding the container. He explains to me about the Government new policy on it. He advised me to hand over the goods to the Government for distribution. I refused and I given the reason why we were trying to take the container into our hand for distribution. Since it has clearly mentioned it’s for Tsunami work he said that he is helpless. I have explained him through a life example why we want the container for our distribution. I said to Mr. Mahinda Calbage that when we feed our animals we don’t just through the food rather we go closer put our hands on top of them. We understand that animals have feeling and emotion. Here the Tsunami victims are human with full of emotion and feeling after lost their beloved family members and all their belongings. If  Government only involve in relief work it might meet their physical needs but when all of us involve directly in relief and rehabilitation they know that the whole world is with them.


Also I said that not only the Government but also we the follow human have responsibility in this time of tragedy. Through our distribution we are able to meet the psychological need of the victim as well. Also our heart will feel great joy in participating in the process and people, who suffered, given their time, spend their money, swept to send these goods could see that their relief reaching people and they also will be encouraged. All of this is more value than anything else. Mr.Mahinda Calpage is gem of a person understand the good reason behind our demand helped us to clear the container through examine at his office because few other staffs are not willing to do so.


We had the same problem at Omanthai LTTE check point while we were taking relief to Mullaitheevu. It has been said us that we have to handed over the relief to TRO for distribution. We refused to do so and finally they allowed us without tax and advised us to contact TRO and use their net work for distribution before starting the distribution to make balance distribution among the victims. Which system is more flexible in working together to meet the need of the victims? Government had taken nearly 500 containers into their custody now most of the containers  are still at Harbor. No one knows finally where it’s going to end up. Do pray that these goods should reach the victims as soon as possible.


The relief goods in the first container have taken to the East for distribution. So far we have distributed into two refugee camps in Ampara and Pastor Muralee has taken one lorry load goods to deliver among the victims in Batticola. Five of our Church members under the leadership of one of our Elder Anthonythasan and  Five members of Dematagoda reformed Church are directly involve in distribution process in Ampara with different local helpers. I am traveling with the team on Sunday afternoon to Ampara to join them and evaluate the needs. I’ll be in the East  for one week.


From the second container two Lorry load of relief goods (1 Lorry, 4   Dolphin’s and 1 small tipper) have send through Pastor Benadict of Victory life Church for the distribution among the victims of South Sri Lanka (Galle and Hampanthotta).Pastor Athula of Victory life Church, Palapittiya who has lost his beloved wife and children at Tsunami train disaster in Hambanthotta also with Pastor Benadict and Pastor Athula is now involve in distribution among south Sri Lankan Victims. One Lorry load goods have sent to Trincomale for distribution among the victims in Trincomale. Pastor Muralee, Pastor Jeyakanth and Pastor Balanathan are involved in distribution in Trincomale. One Lorry load relief goods are in Vavuniya, we are trying to take them to North Victims.


I am happy to say that the 2 x 40’ container relief goods sent by the NANPAN friends is now going to all the Tsunami victims of Sri Lanka from North to down South. God blessed our efforts my friends.


Our mechanics team is traveling to Mullaitheevu on Sunday afternoon to repair and complete the 24 out boat motors that we have promised to repair. Do pray for Bro.Juvanis pastor of MEF member church who is leading the team and Bro.Kumar our church member who is going as assistant to him.


Do pray for us and thank you for your prayers.


Chris Forster, 07/02/2005

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