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03 January 2005 14:05

Reader Larry Woelk's Sri Lanka Appeal

I would be grateful if you could distribute the following aid request to your readers. If you have any questions, please contact me on +44 7710 195953.

While enjoying the holidays, we've all seen the tragic events caused by the Tsunamis in Asia. I have a close friend, Neil Dobbs, who was visiting his in-laws in Sri Lanka at the time of the tragedy. Neil and his family were lucky and reached higher ground on foot after water forced them to abandon their vehicle.

The immediate problem is food, shelter and medicine. The Red Cross in Sri Lanka is completely out of medicine and medical supplies. Because of the delays in aid reaching the survivors through large relief organisations, Neil is working directly with the local Red Cross and local relief organisations by buying supplies locally and distributing them himself to the shelter areas and the Red Cross. (Today, he has delivered 250 kilos of rice to a shelter camp where people have not eaten for 2 days.)

Neil says that in the days and weeks to come, survivors will need clothing and household items such as pots and pans.

Neil is soliciting pledges and is funding the pledges himself so that aid can reach the survivors as quickly as possible. I am helping Neil to collect pledges. If you would like to help, please send your cheque directly to Neil at the following address.
Neil Dobbs
Basement Flat
17 Elvaston Place
South Kensington
London SW7 5QF
United Kingdom

Alternatively, you can contribute by credit card to Neil's wife's travel agency by calling : Link Express Travel +44 (0)20 7225 1483 or +44 (0)20 7581 4775

If you would like your pledge to have the most immediate effect, you could let me know the amount you wish to pledge by return e-mail and Neil will fund the pledge until your cheque is received. Following is Neil's latest update on his activities:-

.

Larry, <
Good morning, we have continued to move things forward although we had a slower start yesterday feeling exhausted. You may have seen in the press that there has been heavy rain in the East side of the Island (it is their wet season) resulting in the severe flooding of roads. Rivers and canal are blocked and the water can't get away. This is slowing down getting aid to the East.

I have set out a brief update of our activities in the last few days:

1) We finally managed to take delivery of some bulk medicines yesterday:
(a) 125,000 rupees of mixed medicines for the Northern (LTTE) area. To give you and idea this was about half a van load of medicine.Six doctors arrived from India last night and have travelled up North, which has been arranged by one of Farzana's aunts. They also brought some medicine with them.
(b) 20,000 rupees - six boxes to go to Galle
(c) 200,000 rupees ready to be collected this morning for distribution to the Red Cross
(d) 100,000 rupees also ready this morning to go to Ampura in the East

2) We purchased over 100,000 rupees of cooking pots - enough for over 200 familites, 100s of stainless steel plates, plastic mugs and 50 Kerosine single burner stoves yesterday and cooking utensils. Most of these went to the Colombo university team who were assembling family packs which were dispatached to Galle last night.

3) We have ordered further Rice, Dahl, spices and noodles (3/4 of a tonne) to make up further family packs. People are also going out this morning.

4) This morning we are going back to the Wadduwa district (20 mile south) to directly distribute some powdered milk, cooking pots, pans and Kerrosine burners, feminine hygiene products etc

5) Low Cost Housing - we attended a meeting yesterday re an initiative to create family units at a cost of about 20,000 rupees (£100) each. However, this local initiative involving a young architect is in our opinion well intentioned but inappropriate. It doesn't address long term need and was over complicated as a short term measure. I have a further discussion planned for Monday morning for an initiative which involved Price Waterhouse and an NGO, who believe a permanent structure can be put up for about 60,000 rupees. With so many people homeless - I think we should try to continue to channel funds into housing solutions. This will become one of the highest priorities in weeks to come.

6) Fund raising - has slowed down now with most people that I have contacted. Funds raised to date are a fantastic £17500, including £5k from Bunzl matching employee donations. With people returning to work on Tuesday it would be great if we could have a big push to solicit further donations. I will give you a further update at the end of the day.
Neil



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