Nordisk Morris Minor Lager A/S

Sri Lanka Help Report

February 2005

Thank you for your support and donations.

The situation was generally as I had expected, when I arrived on January the 22nd. I had already transferred 29.500 kroner from the "Help Sri Lanka" account to a new check account at my bank in Sri Lanka, converting to 510.991 rupees.

I have signed 38 checks for a sum of 441.301 rupees, where 57.310 went to bying 20 stethoscopes og 6 pressure meters for an Ayurveda hospital that had lost their equipment. They had already gotten supplies of plants, oils and natural medicin, and needed the equipment to get back to work. There are around 100 employees at the hospital.

The rest, 383.981 rupees, were given to 39 families to acquire what they had lost, so they could resume their usual work.

In average 9.845 rupees = 580 kroner pr. family.

These 39 families include about 300 people, so in average it costs only 75 kroner to get one person back to "normal".

The most "expensive" was a woman who had lost her husband and her sewing machine. We could give her a new sewing machine for 32.500 rupees = about 1910 kroner. Now, she can provide for herself and is no longer a burden to the village.

On the other end of the scale were 3 families working together fishing on the river. They had lost their boat and nets. For 10.000 rupees = 588 kroner they could buy what they needed to make a living as they used to, providing for 25 people. That's 23,50 kroner pr. person getting back to the life they are used to. Except of course for the fact that their houses are destroyed!

After I had made these calculations, an additional 9.500 kroner were transferred from Denmark. This was also distributed following the same principle: restore "business as usual".

All in all we have helped about 400 people.

Our money goes a long way when it is spent properly.

It has been an easy task (for me) and a good experience to give your money to people in need. There are thousands of cases where a small amount can change hopelessness to activity.

So far, none of the millions collected by the large organizations have directly reached the ones in need in any other form than food and tents, and none expect they will.

Many have no hope of getting help, because they don't live in the affected areas. A mechanic lost his welding equipment and tools on his way to a job. He lives far from the coast and can't expect any help. Some merchants have lost goods they were delivering. Several have lost their livelihoods, although their homes were far from the disaster, and they have no hope of any help.

Many sit inactive in a camp, because they can't get back to their ruins.

The government has forbidden all reconstruction within 100 meters from the shore.

There are many suicides because many have lost so much that they can't believe they have a future.

We have followed a very simple procedure. My employees in the company find people we can help by giving them tools or whatever they need to make a living. They come to my office and describe their problem, and then I write out a check.

It was quite clear that they were encouraged and very surprised to receive money that fast. It is important to get back in action quickly. It is destructive for people who are normally active, to be unable to do anything.

Unfortunately, it seems there will still be serious problems when I get back to Sri Lanka in May. I have seen jobs bigger than we can manage, and I would love to have a million or two next time!

My last Sunday there, I went visiting to see how they had spent the money. We have helped some very poor people.

Since so many others have also lost a lot, they have had no chance of getting help elsewhere. It's hard to understand that it's impossible to get a small loan just to get started. Even larger companies are in serious trouble, because their bank will not or cannot help them.

If you have any ideas, what we can do to help, I would love to hear from you.

Best regards

Dharmadasa, our tyre supplier, got a vulcanization device, compressor and tools. Everything had been flushed away or destroyed by salt water.

Lolita got a new wagon, weight and supplies. Now she is at her usual spot, providing for the family.

Mahathun was helped getting a weight, supplies and materials. He rebuilt the stall, and it is now almost as it used to be.

Nishantha received money for a welder and tools. Here he is repairing the engine for a 3-wheeler.

little stall
This little stall by the main road is the first to be back in business. Much of the neighborhood is destroyed.

little stall
- and now she is serving the customers again. Business is good because she is the only one in the area.

tent camp
A tent camp is better than nothing. Being able to start rebuilding their homes would be best.

Milinona and wife
Milinona and his wife have now started making bricks. Sand and cement was washed away and the motor for the vibrator destroyed.

Suresh and Ranjan
Suresh and Ranjan with the fishing nets. The boat is new and still leaking. It is incredible that 3 families make a living from so little.

Leelawathie is still mourning the loss of her husband. The sewing machine is not yet assembled. Hopefully the supplier will soon find time to do it.

Ratnapala got a new bike and a weight. He is now back on the road selling fish.

Fresh fish
Fresh fish. When these are sold, he rides back to the beach for a fresh supply.

Here, the goods were all washed away and destroyed, but now the owner is smiling again.

Banana Hotel
Reconstruction of the Happy Banana Hotel has started.

Janet, the owner, was optimistic when I first visited him, and he expected to reopen in February.

When I visited him shortly before my departure, he was more or less stuck. He had expected credit from the suppliers, but they have also had great losses and can only accept payment in cash. He needs 2 millioner rupees = 120.000 kroner to complete the work.

I hope it will be possible to help him, as it will have a great impact. There are 10 to 12 jobs there and many small traders in the area depend on the turists.

He is interested in borrowing in smaller amounts. The interest could be 2 to 3 weeks free stay a year until the loan is paid back. If anyone has any ideas how this could be arranged, I would love to hear from you.

Banana Hotel
Happy Banana Hotel.

Banana Hotel
Happy Banana Hotel.