Asian Tsunami Heros

Monday, January 10, 2005

A young 'hero' to the rescue

Posted in Sunday Observer Sri Lanka Sunday, 9 January 2005
by Nisansala Aryachandra and Samangie Wettimuny

"The great disadvantage of a fortress is that while it keeps the enemy out it keeps the defenders in". Much has passed, learned and above all endured since the destruction and devastation that struck our nation on December 26, 2004. In all of this, one thing is quite certain, there were no foes to hide from and no walls to separate man from man or boundaries to restrict humanity.

We have as a nation suffered the brutalities of war to its despicable limits, but some may say, only sections of society have known its true nature, and so the struggle went on.

However, since the fiery lashes of mother nature that stunned and crippled us all equally, there is no one to blame and definitely not a single corner of this island country of ours that was not affected.In a disaster of this magnitude it is only the remains of pain and heartache that is left behind, and with it memories of what binds us universally - human kindness.

Undoubtedly, there are tens and thousands of stories that will each bring out a unique experience that will last a lifetime in our memories.

Because, unlike any other disaster in our history, the whole population was disrupted and we all have someone whom we lost or who have had first hand experience of this national calamity.With that said, it is appropriate and necessary for us to say 'thank you' to all other nationals who have dedicated their strength and effort to ease the pain in the hearts of our people.

The following is a heartfelt acknowledgement and gratitude from the people of Sri Lanka to a courageous surgeon who has risked his life to serve those ailing in despair and in need and to the representatives and the people of his country and government for the timely response rushed to our side when we were stranded helplessly by a thread in the hands of destruction.

Lieutenant Commander G. Parathasarthy, an Indian Navy Surgeon was the first Indian doctor to arrive in Sri Lanka who was dispatched immediately along with his team to Hambantota to start with medical assistance.

Parathasarthy, who flew in the first aircraft to Hambantota assisted in the relief operations and hygienic disposal of dead bodies in many other affected areas. He mentioned that this kind of experiences are not new to his people as they have undergone similar traumatic situations. Commenting about the people attached to the relief operations, he said that he encountered best kind of humanity both from administration and public. Lieutenant Commander left the island on January 6.

What is touching about this story is that he was one of the thousands of people who were affected by the same disaster that struck us. When his ancestral home was completely washed away and his own grandmother was in danger of losing her life, he was serving on foreign soils on orders from his government and out of sheer commitment to give a helping hand to those in need, irrespective of nationality.

It was not that he neglected his own people and family, but that he was confident that his government would look after them. His experiences of our people in service is equally moving and unique and how he regard the relief operations, mostly extended by armed forces and civilians initially is held with utmost admiration.

At a press briefing held last Wednesday at Taj Samudra the media was introduced to this unique story along with the Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Rao who briefed on the relief assistance that her country has extended to ours and is still continuing. We all know that India is much similar to Sri Lanka in terms of traditions, culture and heritage and it is no secret that we feel right at home with her people.

Maybe that is why India has made this situation of disaster as there own and assisted with the same strength. It is also true with regard to the humbleness of our peoples that bring us even more closer.

In an unofficial conversation with Mrs. Rao this fact was all the more clearer, she mentioned that she is 'new' to our country and that she is 'taking baby steps' in this situation of dire need.


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