His story is like so many others here in Sri Lanka. Five years later and the Tsunami is still a vivid memory.
Amilla is a surfer. He was on the beach the day the Tsunami hit the coast. As he tell us his story, you can see him reliving it. Every movement and word feels as if it were happening all over again.
He has a big smile as he speaks,
He is still awed by the events of that day.
He tells us that he remembers thinking to himself that the sea had never looked so beautiful. He just remembers how beautiful it looked and as a tourist walked by, he said to him “something is wrong today, the sea does not look the same.”
A few minutes later, water was rushing to his feet. He thought that it might just be high waters because of the full moon, but the next thing he knew, the water was up to his waste.
He ran to grab his surf boards as they were being swept away. He was responsible for the inventory and didn’t want to lose them. But then, he was hit by a sandbag in the ribs. He bent over in pain and when he straightened back up, the water was over his head.
He now knew something was wrong, but he said that he was laughing and crying at the same time.
He couldn’t believe what was going on and he couldn’t stop laughing, yet he was crying. He was in complete shock.
He swam out to sea knowing that this would be his only chance. Buildings were crumbling and if he went to shore, he would certainly be crushed. He swam and swam and found others. People were panicking, but he told them to stick together. Surfers were in the water and they could rest on their boards.
They stayed in the water for 30 minutes. Waiting.
And then the sea came back out suddenly. They were standing on the ocean floor, he couldn’t believe what was going on.
That is when he ran home to find his family. People were crying, one couple couldn’t find their son. He said “I was the only local, I had to help” He searched for their son and found him in a cupboard, he was safe. The family was in shock and he told them to get out of here. “You are safe, go”
He ran home through the flowing water and glass shredded his feet and legs. Water was everywhere and he could not see.
His family was not there.
His cows were still there. The mother cow wasn’t tied up, but she would not leave here baby. It was tied to a pole, but it had survived. After he untied the cow, he ran in haste and because the water was still high and flowing, he fell into a well. It is impossible to think how he survived.
It was time to get on high ground and he made his way to the temple. His family was there along with the rest of the community.
He was one of the lucky ones.
30,000 Sri Lankans died that day. His family and friends survived. All but one girl that he knew quite well. He found her body cut up on the shore later that night when he and his friends went to the beach to see what was going on.
They felt that they were the surfers, they were able to speak English, they knew the water, they could help.
Sri Lanka has slowly been rebuilding since the Tsunami. But corruption has mired the process. Amilla’s parents lost the deed to their house in the disaster. They didn’t have a copy and therefore were evicted off of their land.
Money has not made its way to the people and even Amilla’s family now has loans and debts as they had to buy another piece of property due to their eviction.
We donated money to the Tsunami like so many others in the west, just like so many others are doing now for Haiti.
It is upsetting to hear stories like this. People have the best intentions, but their money doesn’t make it to those that need it the most.
You can read more about the Tsunami 5 Years later at TheTravelTarts Blog. Anthony visited Banda Aceh a couple of months ago and here is his experienc Banda Aceh – 5 Years on Since the Tsunami