Author Tags: Environment, Politics

“Women’s clothing was hanging from the palm trees, twenty feet in the air. People’s shoes were everywhere.” – Len Walker

Four weeks after the Boxing Day tsunami hit south-east Asia in 2004, Len Walker of Deep Bay/Bowser (near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island) flew into Sri Lanka, where, in cooperation with Doctors Without Borders and Canadian relief organizations, he mobilized relief and rebuilding efforts on the east coast of the island, in the town of Kalmunai. In Sri Lanka alone, one million people were displaced by the catastrophe.

“I'm not an author,” he says, “but I had a story to tell.” Upon his return, the ex-child care worker and Industrial First Aid attendant has self-published Tsunami Journey: Seventy Days in Sri Lanka ($25), printed by First Choice Books in Victoria, partly to publicize how “the rich have gotten richer and the population of the poor greatly increased due to this tragic historic event.”

As a practical idealist who “cut through red tape” in order to provide direct assistance, Walker, 60, now fears a second wave of reconstruction will be “much larger than the wave itself.” He reproduces a Naomi Klein article that suggests corruption and incompetence are masking a much deeper scandal: “the rise of a predatory form of disaster capitalism that uses the desperation and fear created by catastrophe to engage in radical social and economic engineering.”

Walker’s uplifting memoir takes a bad news detour. Just as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund recently forced Sierre Leone, the world’s second-poorest country, to privatize its resources, including water, the reconstruction industry in Sri Lanka, with the complicity of foreign aid, has been working so quickly that, in Klein’s words, “the privatizations and land grabs are usually locked in before the local population knows what hit them...

“Hundreds of thousands of people are being forcibly relocated inland. The coast is not being rebuilt as it was—dotted with fishing villages and beaches strewn with handmade nets. Instead, the Sri Lankan government, corporations and foreign donors are teaming up to rebuild it as they would like it to be: the beaches as playgrounds for tourists, the oceans as watery mines for corporate fishing fleets, both serviced by privatized airports and highways built on borrowed money.”

Tsunami Journey has also been published in a Tamil version. Walker is now raising money to build ten more community schools, at $4,000 per school, and urging Canadians to become directly involved in relief, avoiding VISA and Mastercard, if possible. He can be reached at lenisinsrilanka@yahoo.ca

[0-9738612-0-7, published by Tsunami Haven Pre-Schools, Box 400, Qualicum Beach, B.C. V9K 1S7]

[BCBW 2005] "Politics" "Environment"

Sri Lanka Donations

December 27, 2006

Dear Yosef Wosk:

Just a quick note to acknowledge receiving your check in the amount of $9,651.00 towards the installation of library equipment in our 4 pre-school/community centers in Sri Lanka.

Your kindness and generosity will stretch a very long way. Our volunteer, (retired) elementary school principal "Sister Sue" will be on location in country by the end of January. She will do the necessary work in short order, this being her 3rd trip to assist the effort.

Tsunami Haven Projects Society intends to continue nurturing these 4 community buildings (two in the South (Buddhist) area and two in the East (Hindu-Tamil) area, as one of our long term goals.

Your contribution will make these little projects just S H I N E !!

On behalf of the final recipients, the board of directors of THPS
And all our volunteers I extend my hand to you Yosef…
Hand to Hand is what makes it happen !

Thank you for your Support !