Sri Lankan student hoping to raise enough money to rebuild a village
4/25/2005 10:09:12 AM
Himesha Ranamukhaarachchi is a first-year R-MWC student
LYNCHBURG – Himesha Ranamukhaarachchi was with relatives in Atlanta during Christmas when she first heard the news that her homeland had been destroyed by a terrible tsunami.
“I didn’t know what to do,” said the first-year Randolph-Macon Woman’s College student. “I just sat there and watched the television show the pictures over and over.”
Himesha, like her parents, was born in Sri Lanka. Her family moved to Thailand years ago, and Himesha attended an international school there. As she watched news coverage of the disaster, she saw places that once looked familiar. More importantly, she worried about her family and friends.
Her father was visiting Sri Lanka when the Tsunami hit. Luckily, he was in Kandy, which is the central province of the country, and was unharmed.
Not everyone was so lucky. As communication was restored, Himesha learned of friends and neighbors whose loved ones had perished.
She was numb and felt helpless here in America, thousands of miles away from the place she still calls home.
“I wanted to do something,” she said. “I had to do something. But I couldn’t go over there. I was here.”
So Himesha and her uncle, a scientist with the FDA, devised a plan – a plan that would help rebuild a small village. A plan that would make a difference.
“We didn’t want to raise money that wouldn’t go to the people there,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that everything we raised was used for Sri Lanka.”
So the two joined with friends and created a non-profit association called Rebuild a Sri Lankan Village. The organization’s main mission is to help rebuild one small village in Sri Lanka. The project plan calls for the building or renovation of 25 houses and a school as well helping to restore the livelihood of the village by supplying and repairing fishing equipment.
A small house complete with basic items such as furniture and appliances costs an estimated $2,000 to build. The school, which will have space for 10 classrooms and includes furniture, will cost about $5,000.
While her uncle rallied supporters in Maryland and Washington, D.C., Himesha began working with other students at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. With the help of the Pan World Club and other groups on campus, she hopes the College will be able to raise enough money for at least one house or $2,000.
The students distributed fliers to students, faculty and staff last week and have held a few fundraisers to collect the funds. But they still have a long way to go.
For Himesha, memories of the stunning beaches of Thailand and the natural beauty of her homeland keep her focused.
“It’s beautiful there,” she said. “You can drive by and see a waterfall. It’s that kind of place.”
Those memories still make it hard for her to look at pictures of the damage brought by the tsunami.
“Sri Lanka was a place that was not known for natural disasters,” she said. “We always said we never had earthquakes. When this ha
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