How the camp - staffed by independent volunteers from more than 10 countries - came about
Peraliya Village and the Peraliya Mission statement
The aim of the Rebuild Peraliya Society is to directly help the people of Peraliya in the short and long-term rebuilding projects of their village. Projects include a medical centre, construction, rehabilitation programmes, trauma relief and the setting up of a tsunami warning system.
We’re helping rebuild a Sri Lankan village. You can too!
HistoryHow we all did it!!
The village of Peraliya is located around Temple Road off the 95km mark of Galle Road in Sri Lanka – a three hour drive from the capital Colombo. It was almost totally destroyed by the Tsunami wave at 9.26 am on December 26th, 2004.
An express train on the Colombo-Galle route was passing through the village at the time. The force of the water swept the train from its tracks, killing 1468 passengers. The village itself lost 500 people, while 200 are still missing. The train had become much like Ground Zero in New York and become a focal point for commemorating the tragedy.
Nine days after the Tsunami, six independent volunteers (4 of whom met up by fate in Colombo) arrived at Peraliya and shortly realised that even though hundreds of pilgrims were visiting the train on a daily basis, the villagers had not received any medical aid, nor basic provisions such as food and water. The six volunteers helped facilitate this need through the village chief Aiyypyge Darmadasa and the village organising committee.
The villagers welcomed the volunteers and four of them stayed on in a permanent basis to help co-ordinate a long-term rebuilding plan and the Rebuild Peraliya Society was formed.
The volunteers worked with the village as advisors, recognising that this is their land and they were only visitors there.
They asked them what they wanted?" and held daily meetings with the village to collaborate on projects.
The four individuals, who were only originally intending to stay in Sri Lanka for 2 weeks, remained on indefinelty.
In the early days, Minister of Trade, Jerard Fernadopoule came through and was so impressed by their work that he gave them permission to run the camp and his private cell phone number.
They are non paid volunteers who started a volunteer revolution along the coast where hundreds of other volunteers later followed and came to work at Peraliya. The new volunteers in turn left and returned weeks or months later and brought more volunteers who in turn went down the road and started their own camps. The whole region grew with thousands of independent volunteers which is still strong today.
Peraliya gave the Independent Volunteers a freedom and a confidence that they didn't have to belong to an organization or have much money to get the job done!
Under their gentle, make it up as you go direction there was no politics, no beaurocracy, no agenda... just hard yakka! and it worked!!
The Peraliya village camp was rebuilt faster than any other camp or area on the coast.
The group believes, given the inherent beaurocracy of large organisations, it can act more quickly, effectively and efficiently on reducing the need for emergency aid and beginning the rebuilding of Peraliya village.
However, it works alongside NGOs as they are equally if not much more important to the long term plan.
Co-ordinating the international volunteers are Italian film producer Oscar Gubernati, Australian-New Yorker humanitarian and film director Alison Thompson, American chef to Pearl Jam, Bruce French and retired Australian army engineer Don Paterson.
The 'heart' of a volunteer is the strongest heart of all.
1)+ Peraliya medical center staffed by a team of international medical staff. ( The beuatiful new Medicla center is now COMPLETED and opened by Dr Stein and architect Justin and their financiers)
2)+ The refurbishment of a Peraliya School staffed by Sri Lankan and volunteer teachers. ( thanks to thousands of volunteers)
3)+ The provision of temporary housing by Danish Peoples Aid and volunteers( 750 huts in area completed)
4)+ Long-term planning and construction of permanent housing (450 homes completed in conjunction with Jerard Fernandopulle, Minister of Trade and Commerce. 100 meter refugees relocated)
5)- The building of a 40 classroom school. Our school project was diverted to Ampara in the Nth. East. (COMPLETED) 600 Tamil children now have a beautiful new school. Good News!!!!!***The Italian Govt. have started building the new school at Peraliya it is going to be amazing!!! We are all so happy!!!
6)+ Tsunami Early-warning Center and library. ( up and running 24 hours a day with paid trained officers, The center just celebrated it's one year anniversary (communitytsunamiwarning.com).IT HAS OVER 200 COMMUNITY POINTS SET UP ALONG THE COAST,
7)+ Provision of trauma, first aid and fire training.( weekly trauma classes and provision of fire extinguisher into all wooden homes)
8)+ Setting up of bank account for the village.( It has 3 village signatories no-one else can touch it!!!)
09)+ Proposed military explosive ordnance awareness programme. ( why??we found grenades in the tsunami cleanup)
10)+ Children’s playground inTelwatta. (Danish People's Aid)
11)+ Re-vegetation and drainage. (Planted over 1500 new coconut trees in three villages)
12)+ Land reclamation project. ( top soil, levelling etc)
13)+ Establishment of satellite villages. ( Seenigama, Akurala and 3 other villages)
14 + Boat donation schemes for fishermen (all boats replaced thanks to Larry Buck from Texas and German Hamelyn paramedics)
15)+ Small start-up businesses ( 34 small business started including mask shop, antiques store, small communications center, 2 bakeries, 2 brick factories, sewing shop, fish shop, candy store and convenience shops),
16)+ Adopt a family penpal system. ( volunteers write to families and follow up on progress)
17)+ Weekly swimming lessons. ( every Sunday for one year, Sunil's hotel swimming pool in the monsoon season)
18)+ Temple restoration ( under way by a Singapore group)