- Title: Tsunami 15 years ago 'taught the people a great lesson': Sri Lanka villager
- Date: 17th December 2019
- Summary: GALLE, SRI LANKA (RECENT - NOVEMBER 30, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER OF FOUNDATION OF GOODNESS CHARITY, KUSHIL GUNESEKARA, 63, SAYING: "I picked up the kids who had already attended the premises and then took them to higher ground through the back roads of the village, running into the temple."
- Embargoed: 31st December 2019 00:19
- Keywords: 2004 tsunami Foundation of Goodness Galle Sri Lanka anniversary disaster recovery village
- Location: GALLE, SRI LANKA
- City: GALLE, SRI LANKA
- Country: Sri Lanka
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Earthquakes/Volcanoes/Tsunami,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA004BAD4213
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Kushil Gunesekara's seaside ancestral village of Seenigama was completely devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
"I picked up the kids who had already attended the premises and then took them to higher ground through the back roads of the village, running into the temple," said Gunesekara who survived the tsunami by climbing up to a temple on higher ground.
Fifteen years later, however, the village was rebuilt and has risen from the rubble. Gunesekara left his lucrative sugar business to devote his efforts to rebuilding the village.
According to Gunesekara, the village once relied on coral mining as one of its main means of income. The absence of coral left the village's coast without any resistance to the killer tsunami waves.
"We ate from the sea and the sea ate us. Because, traditionally, for a very long time in this area, there was coral mining, and they broke all the coral, so there was no resistance (to) break water," he said.
Gunesekara started to push his Foundation of Goodness which he founded in 1999 to help villagers learn other vocations, including local tsunami survivors such as Namal Ishari, who was taught administrative skills and is now the team leader of their business process outsourcing office.
"It was an opportunity for people to rise from the ashes. The tsunami taught the people a great lesson," said Ishari.
Guneskara's Foundation has built homes for local tsunami survivors, provides educational courses, and also offers diving courses for tourists.
December 26 will mark the 15th anniversary of the deadly tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people, which was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra Island. Indonesia bore the brunt, but Sri Lanka was the next worst-affected country with a death toll of about 40,000.
(Production: Waruna Karunatilake, Joseph Campbell)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None