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Latest reports on Food for Life Tsunami relief

by Food for Life

Posted February 20, 2005

The latest reports on Food for Life tsunami relief efforts are being posted on the Food for Life Global website. Here is a sample:

Moratuwa - A nutritious lunch!

Saturday, February 12 -- Our lunch time meal continues in Moratuwa. Niti Laksa Das (pictured right), our head chef from London, has set up a base camp in a house that is within minutes of many relief camps. Cooking begins around 9AM. First the vegetables are sorted, washed and cut into bite size chunks. Today we are using eggplants, okra, potato, tomatoes, and plenty of chilies. Soy chunks are a staple here, so near the end of the cooking, 50kgs of soy chunks are added to the simmering pool of curried vegetables. As steam pours out of the huge 300 liter pot, Niti smiles, wipes the sweat from his brow and continues stirring with a massive stainless steel spoon. "I have to make sure everything gets mixed properly," he tells me. "Bring more chilies," he laughs. "They really like it hot in Sri Lanka. Even the children don't mind a lot of chilies. We have to make a special batch of curry just for us," he explains, while pointing to another smaller pot to the side. "Okay, we're ready. Let's get this on the truck," he tells the others.

[FFL Volunteer, Colleen Hardiman, serving vegetable curry at a relief camp in Moratuwa.]

Four men are required to lift the pot onto a flat bed truck. "One slip and someone is going to really get hurt", I think to myself. Fortunately, everything is loaded without drama -- 300 liters of vegetable curry, 400 liters of steaming hot rice, and 300 liters of dhal. Enough to feed more than a thousand people. Six volunteers quickly jump onto the back of the flat bed truck and we move out. Next stop, relief camp #12.

As we approach the camp site, our truck bearing a Food for Life banner on the grill, is quickly spotted and an announcement goes out over the loud speaker. We don't understand what is being said, but we recognize "Food for Life." Everyone waves as we enter the gate and quickly form a line. Today, we have three new volunteers from the US serving the meals, Colleen Hardiman, Sara Spears, and JenRenee Paulson. "This is so much fun," says Colleen, as she dishes out the curry, while JenRenee serves the hot dhal and Sara labors with the hot rice.

I decided to walk around and chat with the people in the camp. Many were eager to tell me their story. One lady took me into a large shed and explained that this was now her place of residence. As I surveyed the cracked cement floor, I could see that there were many families living in this one congested area. Each family had no more than five feet of real estate to sleep and keep all their belongings. "There are no fans, so it gets very hot at night time," she told me. "Is there something else I can do for you," I said. "Yes, please bring the children some books to read." I couldn't help but appreciate her selfless and simple nature. She was suffering under these austere conditions, and when asked what she needed, she only wanted me to help the children. This attitude is very typical here. The Sri Lankan people are very caring and hospitable. I told her I would come back soon with some gifts for the children.

To read more, go to: www.ffl.org

Priyavrata Das
Food for Life Global