Note: The interview was actually with Sarvodaya President Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne. The mention of Dr. Vinya is an error in the CNN Rush Transcript.
KING: Joining us by beeper (ph) phone from Sri Lanka is Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne. He is executive director of Savodaya. That’s the nongovernmental community development organization working with Direct Relief International.
The word Savodaya was coined by Mahatma Gandhi to mean the welfare of all.
What does your organization do, Dr. Ari?
DR. VINYA ARIYARATNE, EXEC. DIRECTOR, SARVODAYA RELIEF GROUP IN SRI LANKA: From the moment we heard about the disaster, that is 26th morning, we immediately converted all our centers around the country into relief centers. And we started operations on 26th evening, itself.
When things like this happen, we have what is called a short, midterm, and long-term program, relief first, rehabilitation, reconciliation, reconstruction and what we call reawakening, that is the final phase.
So we started with relief first. We sent all the rice (ph), medicines, medical teams, volunteers to all the affected areas and went into action. And I personally visited the southern ports (ph). And I went right up to the north to Sri Lanka, (untranslated) and then the area which is controlled by the LTP (ph) (untranslated) area and met the leaders and the relief workers and coordinated all the activities with them as we worked with the government and other organizations.
Now we are in full swing.
KING: Sarvodaya deals with — by the way, they have a Web site. If you want more information…
KING: Its www.Sarvodaya.org.
You also deal with emotional problems, right?
ARIYARATNE: Yes, yes we have teams going into those areas and trying to bring about a kind of psychological approach to make the people understand the reality and get over the shock and then get into action to rehabilitate themselves with outside help. So being the oldest organization in the country, 48 years old, we are able to handle this better than I think most organizations. We cooperate with the government, and one special thing we have undertaken is to care of all the children below 18 years of age.
We can have them in temporary shelters at the moment. Of course, we do it with the government. The government has to provision (ph) department and the child protection authorities who work with us. So with their permission, we are able to take care of all the children.
And we have appealed to local as well as international groups to help us do this. These are permanent (ph), long-term things.
We look after everybody affected. Then we are starting a housing scheme (ph). At the moment, we need a lot of, to prevent disease and all that, we need things like temporary toilets.
And we are cleaning wells, so we have got some water…
KING: I’m going to…
KING: Let me — I’m going to — thank you very much Dr. Ari. I’m going to repeat the Web site again. If you want more information on it, www.Sarvodaya.org.