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ImageJust days after that terrible Tsunami in 2004, George Alagiah from the BBC was one of the very first journalists to visit Sri Lanka .....



In 2005 George wrote to TimeLine:  "I've been to Sri Lanka twice since the Tsunami struck on Boxing Day last year.   There are so many things that I remember - but there is one image that I will never forget.   My TV crew and I were driving along a coastal neighbourhood that had been completely wiped out.  All we could see was the rubble.

There, in the middle of it all, was a single tent - and a man bending over it.   With him was his young daughter.  When I went over to him, I realised that the man was actually painting his address on the side of the tent.  There was his name, and the address of the house he had once lived in, before the Tsunami.   Next to it, he wrote the date of the disaster, and drew two eyes.   There were teardrops falling from each eye.

You see, in the middle of all this doom and gloom he was trying to turn his little three-person tent into a home.  Giving it an address was like saying 'the walls, doors and windows of my house may have gone, but this little patch of earth is still the place where I belong'.

ImageIt shows how strong the people in the countries affected by the Tsunami have been.   All the reporters on the scene have told the story of  how much money we - in the rich world - have collected.  And it's true, we should feel good about ourselves: we have done the right thing.

But  we mustn't forget how much people in those countries did for themselves.  It took days - even weeks - for our money to get to them: and until it did, they have had to survive on their own.  They got help from friends and relatives, doctors gave up all their spare time to treat victims; temples opened their doors, and people in other parts of the country supplied food, blankets and medicines.

It is at times like the Tsunami that you really learn what it means when people talk about the human spirit".

Thankyou to the BBC for the use of the image of George Alagiah. and to David Verry for the picture of the Lisbon earthquake.
   And congratulations to George, who The Queen awarded the OBE in the 2008 New Year's Honours List.
 
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