Showing posts from March, 2012

Thank You, Emergency Managers!

For last few days, it has been raining in Puerto Rico. Five districts are flooded and there are reports of landslides and some damage to infrastructure. After monitoring for a couple of days, the State government decided to activate the Emergency Operations Center, which meant all the concerned emergency managers had to sacrifice their plans with their families for the weekend.

I have the honor of working with some of them. As the operations were being planned, I looked around the room, my dear colleagues looked tired after a long working week. They might be waiting to relax during the weekend. But it was so impressive to see that none of them said no to their duty, none of them thought of calling their spouses before committing to work without taking any time off.

One more time, I was in awe of the committment of emergency managers. While they do their day-to-day work and take care of their families, they are always ready to respond for those they may not even know. When an emergency…

Disasters may be strong but human resilience is stronger

For the last ten years, I have been working with disaster survivors. During this time, I met with hundreds of survivors and tried to learn from them. While most visible and obvious destruction was caused to their houses and infrastructure, bigger damaged done was inside them. Fear, helplessness, anger and loss of control are some examples of what disaster survivors feel. Needless to say, none of these feelings help to restore the inner peace.

Impact of disasters is more complex than what meets the eye. While conducting psychosocial assessment in IDP (Internally Displaced Population) camps in Sri Lanka post-tsunami, I met a boy who must be about 12 years old. His intelligence immediately impressed me. During the first half of the conversation, he tried to convince me  that things weren't too bad for them and his grandmothers were taking care of him and his brother and his father was working to clear the debris on the road as part of the 'cash for work' program. But I knew so…

Sri Lanka and UN

Having lived and worked in Sri Lanka for two years after the 2004 tsunami, I have many beautiful memories of the island, fondly know as the 'Pearl' of Indian Ocean.  While serving the tsunami survivors I was blessed with many long lasting relationships that I still enjoy. As a humanitarian, I learned ways to recognize and enhance community resilience after a major disaster. 
However, I also remember the day when a bomb exploded next to our office in Columbo and how fear swept through the team, especially for my Sri Lankan colleagues. I remember trying to comfort a Tamil girl and a Sinhala girl and both expressed the same fears. Their concerns and tears were identical. We all prayed for peace for that beautiful island but we didn't know that it was going to be much worse before getting better.
Many reports including those from the UN claim that many atrocities were committed from both sides especially towards the end of the war. According to these reports, tens of thousands o…

Shine Bright, Little Light!

Apologies for being away for a long time. During the last month, I have been on a roller coaster of life, have had moments of ecstasy during my recent trip to India for my little brother's wedding and moments of shock and sadness when I heard that his beautiful wife's mother passed away due to cardiac arrest.

Death of a dear one can snatch away peace from your soul. It becomes very difficult to find peace during the gloomy night of helplessness. It frustrates the heck out of us when we can't hold our dear for another moment or call them back from wherever they have transitioned. These are the moments of utter desolation.

However, eventually we start seeing the stars of hope in the dark sky and the fireflies of aspirations begin slowly light up our being. And then the sun composed of reasons of happiness begins  another day of our life. I too am waiting for that morning to gently walk into our lives and in the lives of all those who are experiencing the loss of their dear o…