Who am I – The Tsunami and me

WHY AM I WRITING THIS NOW? WELL SOMEONE ASKED ME ‘WHO ARE YOU’ WHO IS JANN THE AUTHOR?

So here goes. This is part of who I am, a very important life changing part. I mentioned in the blurb on me the Author that I was close to having been a Tsunami victim. I passed friends who I never saw again, because I wanted to be with my mum in the UK for Christmas. She had lost my father shortly before and needed me.

On Sunday morning at the crack of sparrows mum came into my room to say,

“Something terrible has happened in Sri Lanka.”

I leapt out of bead and watch the TV. I recognized Galle, the huge Michelin man holding tyres was on a 3 story building. People were clinging to the windows around his head. Some lost their grip and were sucked away. I didn’t know if they lived or died.

“Mum I have to go back.”

I picked up the phone and prayed someone would answer at the other end. My dear friend did. I told him I’d come straight back. But he said,

“NO stay there, you can do more good there. Tell people. Get their help.”

That was the start. I did just that.

Mum was brilliant of course and soon with all the donations flooding in of cloths, bedding, toys, towelling etc. Her home soon started to resemble a jumble sale in full fling.

Neighbours too were wonderful. They knew I had lived in Sri Lanka for about 8 years by then and had got involved with smaller projects I had run in my own village, high up and safely nestled in the Kandian Mountains.

But this one would be the most challenging and most rewarding.

Firstly the garage filled then the rooms in the house. Neighbours came to help us sort everything into boxes and clearly label them for when they would arrive in Sri Lanka.

“How are you going to get everything there?”

“I’m not sure yet, but I will.”

And I did.

The travel agent in Acton, London who booked my tickets to and from Sri Lanka every year offered to take whatever I managed to get together over to the Island for me free of charge – I think he may have regretted that later.

OK so I could get everything to Sri Lanka, but how was I going to get it all up to London? Again I was being watched over. A local business man in West Parley knew a lorry owner,

“He’ll take everything up to London for you free, you just need to pay the driver.”

So it was settled 3 weeks after the Tsunami had struck everything would go to London. Boxes piled up all over mum’s house, but bless her she said nothing and we carried on collecting. A neighbour two doors down offered his double garage and the completed boxes where moved in the evening when we had a bit more muscle.

loading2loading

Mum’s neighbours started collecting at the McDonalds they owned. Two local schools got involved and pretty well every neighbour my parents had spoken in the days when my father was still alive and they walked their dogs around the block. I knew few of them, but everyone wanted to help.

When I had lived in London I had been a Scout leader in Greenford Scout District. Glaxo’s as they had been in my day responded to a letter I wrote to them and donated hundreds of adult and children’s toothbrushes as well as toothpaste. The Scouters in my old district rallied. Josie my best friend turned her garage into another Tsumani collection point. Half way to London friends from Hawley Golf Club too collected

“I hope this lorry’s a big one.” Thoughts now started to cross my mind.

The day came for everything to get loaded up into the lorry. The driver was brilliant, I can’t remember his mane now sadly, but he is another example of kindness I crossed and have continued to cross in my life again and again. The men in the neighbourhood came out in droves that night, it was like a well-oiled machine at work and soon the boxes were all aboard and mum’s house empty.

“Be careful.” Mum kissed me and I was away. Travelling in the lorry up to London. We collected the Golf Club donation on the way, then Josie’s house where Scouters gathered to help.

“How are you going to load all this load on to the container?” Lou asked.

Hmm hadn’t thought of that.

“Hang on a giff.” She was on her phone. “Ok they’ll meet us in Acton. Better get going then hadn’t we.”

As we arrived in Acton, it seemed that half of Greenford had turned up and a few hours later the container was full. And I mean literally full. I’ll never know who the guy who loaded that last box was. He just wandered up and said we looked like we could do with some help, what was it all for? Sri Lanka. He spent 4 hours helping us and then just walked away.

The driver Graham too was brilliant. He refused to be paid. Once he had learnt that I was a Scout leader he told of happy days scouting as a boy.

“Just get me a breakfast, I’m starving,”

It was then well into the afternoon and he still had to drive back down South.

Too many un-named fabulous people, some I will never know the names of, and some whose names I have unfortunately forgotten. They all helped to change my life and lead to where I am now. An author

I look back now and a lump starts to form in my throat again, as it has done many hundreds of times before, at the sheer generosity of folk, material and time, without them all I could never have done it.

Why am I writing about this now? I suppose because the tears have finally dried up and I can, and of course because someone asked me WHO I AM?

 


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