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January 27, 2005

Feedback From Japan


Dr. Vinya receiving a donation from Chuo University Students

Report of “Sri Lankan damage from Tsunami and the emergency assistances by Sarvodaya: current situation and activity report and the vision of mid-and-long term emergency assistance.” You may also read the full report in the original Japanese at the University website, as well as their coverage of The 1900 KM Fundraising Cafe.

January 23, 2005

We took part in the special lecture, “Sri Lankan damage from Tsunami and the emergency assistances by Sarvodaya: current situation and activity report and the vision of mid-and-long term emergency assistance” by Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, who is Executive Director of Sri Lankan NGO, Sarvodaya on January 25, 2005 and I inform as remarked below.

Title: Sri Lankan damage from Tsunami and the emergency assistances by Sarvodaya: current situation and activity report and the vision of mid-and-long term emergency assistance
Host: Chuo University Faculty of Policy Studies
Date: January 23, 2005, 15:30~17:00
Place: Chuo University Faculty of Policy Studies
Lecturer: Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne (Executive Director of Sri Lankan NGO, Sarvodaya)
Participant: Around 30 in all
Breakdown of participants:
International Internship Program: 04 Sri Lanka Course: 12 participants
Other students within this faculty: 4 participants (including 3 graduates of this program)
Parents of students of 04 Sri Lanka course: 9 participants
City council member of Kokubunji: 1 participant
Chuo University Official: 1 participant (including 2 participants from office of Faculty of Policy Study)
International Internship Program: Momoe Waguri Special relegated instructor

Contents: By Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne who is Executive Director of Sri Lankan NGO, Sarvodaya, presentation for explanation of damage of the South East-Asia Earthquake and Tsunami and of current issues, active areas future prospects of the emergency assistances of Sarvodaya, questions and answers (can it be possible to hear the voices of victims equally?, how is the sanitation in Sri Lanka?, is there any possibility of spread of epidemics or what can we do for the victims? ), and report of consequence of charity drive within this faculty by students and delivery of it to Dr Vinya.

(After the lecture, the dialogues with the parents about explanation of this program, safeness to go to Sri Lanaka and positioning it in this program were held.)

Reaction from students

Department of Cross Cultural Studies, Second-year Student, Ayana Arai

According to Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, he said that there were compassionate waves which were help from the local community, national organizations, and from the government. The most impressive story was how the LTTE (The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) soldiers helped the government soldiers and government soldiers helped LTTE soldiers, Tamils helped Sinhalese and Sinhalese helped Tamils. I hope that this Tsunami disaster will lead to peace construction in Sri Lanka. Also Dr. Vinya informed us how there were plenty of water in Sri Lanka and that they do not need any. I learned that before we support the country with supplies we have to grasp what the people’s needs are, if we do not, sometimes it can be an unappreciated favor.

The questions by the parents were mostly about the International Internship Program and about the sanitation in Sri Lanka. By receiving answer from Dr. Vinya who is from Sri Lanka and, Momo who is the instructor of this course, I think that the parents were relieved to know how it is in Sri Lanka, and the main point of this course. I thought even if we do not have much time to talk with our parents it is our job to talk to them and try to get them to understand what we are doing.

Department of Cross Cultural Studies, First-year Student, Chiharu Arai

I attended the debrief session about tsunami suffering and future support in Colombo of Sri Lanka hold by Water Forum. They said that a lot of fishing communities suffered are Christian, and on the other hand, many people in midland are Buddhists and Hindu. Moreover, they got the impression that both had had a relationship each other, and thus, I asked the impression of Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne about this problem. He thinks that there are many Christian in North and many Buddhists in the South. Besides, if there was not communication in the past, he hopes that this tsunami gives them a chance of their communication. In addition, I felt that he expects mutual collaboration, which was arisen as result of this tsunami, promotes peace building in Sri Lanka. I agree with him, especially, between Tamil and Sinhalese. Moreover, I am grad to take parts in meaningful lecture because this lecture was open not only to ordinary people but also to our parents. Thus we can obtain understanding of this course’s aim and the intension of full-time instructor Waguri at Chuo University, “from classroom lecture to field study” from our parents.

Department of Policy Sciences, First-year Student, Shiori Fukamizu

Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne explained as the answer to the question how you draw the line between independence and dependency, that there was no line, but Sarvodaya is implementing “cash for work” and “food for work” as the ways to promote independence of the victims. By these ways the victims can promote the abilities of deciding themselves and the cooperation among community. I learned that when we aid them, we have to consider how we assist in long tern and how we can make society better systematically. In playing an active role in Sri Lanka, I want to see how local people change in projects of Sarvodaya and to think what I can do for them. And through this lecture and questions and answers, I think that the parents understand what we do in the field and what roles field-studies will play.

Department of Cross Cultural Studies, First-year Student, Misato Horii

I have been to other debrief sessions held by the JEN and Water Forum, but this time I was more interested in the lecture, because it was the first time we could see a Sri Lankan who was in Sri Lanka when the Tsunami occurred. To hear the fact that “Sarvodaya society” played the role of a base for relief activities in the immediate aftermath of the Tsunami made me realize that a single activity can sometimes lead much further than the primary accomplishment of it.
And after the lecture, the questions and answers was held between the instructor and parents. I think it was a good opportunity for the better understanding of parents about our internship course.

Department of Cross Cultural Studies, First-year Student, Kunitomo Kamizaki

According to Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne’s lecture, I could know serious impacts of Tsunami and several problems in emergency assistances such as volunteer management, human right problem within the refugee camps or importance of the communication between policy-makers and victims of Tsunami very well. In addition, there is a fact that in the emergency assistances within Sri Lanka people have been working and helping each other beyond ethnic and religious barriers, and Sarvodaya has regarded these assistances for rehabilitation and reconstruction not as mere assistances but as new community building. And I consider these as the positive and strong reactions to Tsunami by Sarvodaya and feel great.

Also, I learned the minimum manners as a volunteer from Dr.Vinya. And from the dialogue with parents, I have come to decide to try what I have learned so far in the classes into the field with certain goals, asking myself why I am in Sri Lanka to study when we go to Sri Lanka. Then I think that we need to consider we can study now because of the support of surroundings such as family, teachers or staffs of this program and to thank them.

Finally, from Dr. Vinya’s lecture and dialogue with parents, I have realized the importance of communication. In the case of emergency assistances, unless policy-makers do not listen to the voices of victims, there would be possibility of implementing policies which ignores their needs or future. In addition, I think unless we do not tell parents what we are doing now well, they would be worried about or misunderstand us and our program. Therefore I came to understand that communication is important.

Department of Cross Cultural Studies, First-year Student, Tomohiro Kitagawa

In today’s lecture by Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, I was impressed by his answer of trying not to provide emergency aid to reconstruct the same society before suffering damage but to improve for better buildings, environment and human relations, for the question from the student that this emergency aid brings about peace building. In Sri Lanka, people cooperate with others beyond ethnic and religious differences. And also, this lecture was open for outlanders. They questioned that there is any infection disease. For their question Dr. Vinya, who is professor of public health and Doctor of medical science, said that sufferings from infection disease are still not found. This lecture which outlanders including parents took part in was important and meaningful because it brought us about vision of present suffering and next approach.

We don’t commiserate this disaster but we have to do something what we can do to believe their recovering.

Department of Cross Cultural Studies, First-year Student, Ayumi Kudo

Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne is the executive director of the biggest NGO in Sri Lanka, Sarvodaya. What has made Sarvodaya immediately respond to their first “Tsunami” disaster, I believe, should be their age long and successful aid experience in Sri Lanka. It was truly an honor participating in the special lecture of Dr. Vinya.
In less than two months we will be visiting Sri Lanka, where has suffered “a wave of destruction,” and we have been feeling anxious. We will of course need to be careful on the basic cautions (take inoculation, wear long sleeves, etc) and have basic social manners, but participation for this lecture relieved everyone (me, my parents, other members of International Internship 04 Sri Lanka Course and their families, people who are worried about us going to Sri Lanka) because we were able to hear from Dr. Vinya that there has been no outbreak of diseases.

Also I have found out that it is such a difficult matter of how to prevent drawing Tsunami victims’ dependency of making living. Sarvodaya has applied “Cash-for-work” system, where the victims need to work in order to receive aid in terms of cash, so that not only they can receive emergent resources but also this system can prevent their weakening of the power of self-living. I believe that “sustainable aid” will be appropriate for Sarvodaya’s movement.

Through this special lecture and communication with Dr. Vinya, I feel that it is very important to perform aid considering not only victim’s emergent needs but also their afterwards. The process that encourages one’s ability of decision-making, such as “Cash-for-work,” is taking place at Tsunami-devastated region. As a member of the International Internship Program “Learning in action, Learning for action,” I will further strive to extend my ability of thinking, deciding, finding out, and interacting with people like the Tsunami victims and the aides working in the Tsunami-devastated areas.

Department of Policy Sciences, Second-year Student, Mitsugu Maekawa

From the lecture by Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, the executive director of Sri Lankan biggest NGO, “Sarvodaya,” I have learnt the recent response of Sarvodaya, which has hitherto been engaged in emergency assistance and reconstruction assistance for the victims of tsunami disaster. For instance, rather than replacing the villagers who used to live in the community located within 100 meters from the coast to inner areas, which was implemented by the government, Dr. Vinya pointed out to provide another set of options to the replaced villagers such as the residence in neighboring villages. Having understood his lecture, with a passion, I have come to recognize the importance for other assistant actors to learn from Sarvodaya’s activities, promoting the empowerment of individuals through invigorating the idea of “assistance in local levels” with their philosophy, “Reawakening of All,” which is the idea that government pretty often ignores or outlooks.

In addition, the presence of the parents in this lecture was a fruitful opportunity for them to understand the situations that many of the students stay at university till late at night because they are so keen on the study for this program. Besides, it was a good opportunity also for us, the students, to be able to re-recognize the preciousness of family-based-life as the fundamental part of ourselves and therefore of the program itself. I cordially appreciate this opportunity.

Department of Cross Cultural Studies, First-year Student, Hiroki Nishio

In this lecture, we could listen to information and prospects of this Tsunami from the viewpoint of policy-maker as Executive Director in Sri Lankan NGO “Sarvodaya” and learn a lot. In Sri Lanka, the ethnic conflict had continued after the ceasefire agreement in 2002, the situation didn’t change. But after this tsunami, people helped each other without ethnic barrier. So Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne hopes that it is time to change Sri Lanka for peace.

In the last part of the lecture, Dr. Vinya, who is a doctor of public health, explains that there are no onsets of infectious diseases accompany tsunami for the moment. We are going to go to Sri Lanka in this March for field studies in this course. So we will collect information about public health and safety in Sri Lanka to study safely in Sri Lanka in this March.

Also we asked our parents to come and see today’s lecture and reported the present state of Sri Lanka. In addition, the dialogues about this course made our parents understand that through talking with people in the fields of development and verifying our studies, we will study what we cannot study in universities or in Japan. I hope that we have opportunities which involve our parents and study as a member of this course in the condition that our studies are understood by people who support us.

Department of Cross Cultural Studies, First-year Student, Kanae Shiraishi

Through the lecture of Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, I did feel the needs of “conversation.” In the lecture, Dr. Vinya mentioned about the problems, which related to the rebuilding prohibition within 100 meters from shoreline, such as the division of community and displacement. He claimed, however, if there had been the conversation between Sri Lankan government and the shoreline community, the alternative policy would have been held. And, the parents of students also took part in this lecture to know the situation in Sri Lanka, because they had serious concerns about the spread of infectious disease which was alarmed by WHO. However, I thought that they eased their anxiety by conversation with Dr. Vinya who got on a set in Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, there is also a huge need of conversation between Sri Lankan government and LTTE. In the light of the fact and this lecture, I reconfirmed the needs of “conversation.”

Department of Policy Sciences, Second-year Student, Namiko Soma

“How can we lead this tsunami disaster to peace construction?” What Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne mentioned to answer this question was striking for me. Dr. Vinya, through these things people in Sri Lanka reconsidered the way they are. He said that all people were equal in front of nature, and after the wave people in Sri Lanka helped each other no matter what ethnicity and religion each individual had.

He told us that even the LTTE soldiers and government soldiers helped each other. He also mentioned that places where the nature was more destructed the more serious damages they had. I felt he has strong determinations for leading this Tsunami disaster to the peace construction of Sri Lanka.

I also learned that it is important to share the understandings and feelings for such tragedy with my family. Because, I thought if other people get further understandings of Sri Lanka and the assistance for Sri Lanka, it is beneficial for Sri Lanka.

Department of Policy Sciences, Second-year Student, Hiroshi Usui

I learned that it is important to have a cool mind and then make judgments, in such a disastrous situation, caused by the Tsunami.

From the answer by Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, to the question, “What do you think is important when considering the empowerment of people,” I realized that it is important to consider how to empower the people not only in the reconstruction phase, but also in the emergency aid phase. I felt that it is necessary to take measures to stimulate the empowerment of the people even in the emergency phase, through the example of “Work for Food” policy, which was given by Dr. Vinya. From this example, I acknowledged the need to have a cool eye and look ahead for the reconstruction period, in order to prompt the empowerment of people. Also, responding to the question by a parent, Dr. Vinya mentioned from a specialist viewpoint that there is no infection reported as a huge matter, and that there is no need to be worried about the infectious disease in Sri Lanka. From this response, I noticed the impossibility of understanding the real situation, and thought that it is impracticable to make neither discussions nor policies concerning the emergency aid and reconstruction support of Sri Lanka, without the accurate and reliable information. So it could be said that there needs to be a cool mind sorting out the information, and make a solid understanding.

Therefore, I realized and learned the importance of having a cool mind, for both the people in Sri Lanka, and out side of Sri Lanka.

Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement for the People in Need.