Alums Advocate Relief for Tsunami Victims – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Alums Advocate Relief for Tsunami Victims

Since the tsunami disaster occurred several HWS alums have contacted the Colleges to urge their former classmates and those affiliated with their alma mater to assist in the effort to aid those who have been impacted.

James Herendeen '67 is in Bangkok, Thailand, and was unharmed by the tsunami. He asks anyone who can to help those whose lives were devastated by the disaster.

“What can we do? The first priority is the children. They are weak and vulnerable and so, so, many are alone. Way beyond that, they are victims to predators who traffic in the child trade: to pedophiles, to the illegal adoption market, to the sex trade. They are susceptible to decease, malnutrition, starvation — and I believe you know the rest. And, by the way, this is big. Please send money and support to the legitimate agencies that will rescue and help the children,” Herendeen urges.

Benjamin Thomas ’99 and his wife both work for Campus Crusade, a Christian, non-denominational ministry. Thomas oversees the sports ministry branch, Athletes in Action, in South Asia, and is helping to coordinate relief efforts to provide food and blankets. Another branch of Campus Crusade will begin to rebuild homes and get the infrastructure of the villages and cities that have been hit up and running.

“Since the Tsunami hit, I have been in communication with our staff in India. They have reported many children who are now orphaned. They were saying how sad it is as many children are just on the streets and have no idea where there parents are or who they even belong to.”

Within the first few days Thomas raised more than $300,000 for South and South East Asia relief efforts that the staff is undertaking.

Dimuth Siritunga '94 shared that his family and friends in Sri Lanka have been personally providing aid to Sri Lankans, particularly in the days immediately following the tsunami.

“They drove trucks, filled with medical supplies, clothes and food, themselves to the affected areas, so remote that the people there did not know 'why the sea was so angry that day.' They also air-lifted, with the aid of the Sri Lankan airforce, medical supplies to the areas of the country that have been hardest hit even prior to the tsunami, due to a senseless 20 year-old civil war.”

Siritunga also urges aid as a long-term commitment to the people affected.

“As you can imagine, the devastation and the tragedy caused by the tsunami will not be erased this year or the year after. It will need systematic long-term solutions, including building whole villages and communities destroyed by the tsunami, as well as building orphanages, elder homes and hospitals. Additionally, providing psychological help to the victims, donations of boats to the fisherman, providing education (including building schools) and guidance to young orphans” will be needed.

Kumudu Gunasekera '98, who is from Sri Lanka, reports that he is safe and in Boston. His family owns resorts and they have much rebuilding to do. He said his friends and family are fine but there were some close calls.