MU Team Aids Victims
The 2004 Tsunami is no longer in the headlines the water has long since receded and fund raisers have ended, yet some survivors still need help.
Nearly a year after the tsunami, something as simple as flushing a toilet scares the children of Sri Lanka because the sound remind them of the waves.
In the city of Kalmunai in Sri Lanka, the people speak Singalese and Tamil, but not even a translator can paraphrase the depths of their grief.
Preschool children lost their arms and legs trying to run from the tsunami and 38 children died while trying to recite their daily prayer.
Due to the threat of disease, the dead were buried quickly. Some in mass graves. Here in Sri Lanka, 12,000 young lives were cut short. Now the cemeteries go on for miles.
"In about half an hour I encountered about 25 deaths, mainly woman and children, but mostly babies," said Aliyar Iffthikar, a physician.
Dr. Mohammed Fazal worked for 22 days straight after the tsunami. On the first day, he handled 500 bodies.
For the 18,000,000 people who live hear there are only 20 psychiatrists.
In fact, the people here have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress,words of which very few have ever heard of.
Before the tsunami hit, this place was a school, then the waters rushed in. You can still see the water mark on the wall. This is the place where the trauma team is training today. It's appropriate because this is the first gathering here since the tsunami flooded the building.
The University of Missouri Trauma Team trained teachers, faith healers and doctors how to recognize the symptoms of post traumatic stress. Symptom many of these participants are experiencing themselves.
Many students are going to be tense because they are suffering from hyper-arousal.
"We call it a pop gun effect. That something goes off behind them and you get an over response," said Wayne Anderson a trauma team member.
Many of these participants had never learned how to relax. Now they are learning to create a picture in their minds of a safe place.
The MU trauma team is encouraging people to imagine a safe place, but often times that's near the beach, the water or your house. But here on the beaches of Sri Lanka where the tsunami hit, many participants are struggling to find a safe place.
They scream when they hear the sound of the waves. Waves of grief that still haven't crested.
But thanks to these doctors even in the height of the roughest waters, the people of Sri Lanka now have a way to relax and experience calmness.
It will be very hard for people in South Asia to relax because another disaster could happen at any moment.
In fact, while we were in Sri Lanka another earthquake in the Indian Ocean prompted another tsunami warning.
If you'd like more information about how to contribute to a home building project there for the displaced survivors, you can check out our website. Just click on village of hope.
Select a station to view its upcoming schedule: