Monday, January 10, 2005

Eastern University

Eastern University (Student Faculty volunteer groups)

The Vice Chancellor (Prof. Raveendranath) informed us that water treatment was the key need - one of my ex-colleagues (Iqbal) at the Institute of Fundamental Studies had taught there previously and he was friends with Ravi. He let us know that water treatment was a key need in the refugee camps. So we fabricated a student/faculty design for an emergency water treatment facility and took it along there – this was handed over to the agricultural engineering staff of the University (Manobahavan Manoharan). They set up a demonstration in the Disaster Management Centre in Batticaloa – and they have undertaken water quality testing so that we can feel sure about the safety of the unit. They are organizing themselves to replicate this unit – see their website

They had many volunteers to do the work and so on but no quick way for petty cash expenditures such as buying some water holders, transport and so on. This seemed to be a shame and we gave Ravi some funds for related expenses. We also gave them a digital camera which they put to good use to take pictures of the water treatment unit for their website.

The service that the University was providing for the coordinating group in Batticaloa was information support and expertise – they have set up a website with almost no resources (just one junior staff member pulling all his friends together. They surveyed in detail all those who were affected – this was going on even when we were there. All this was going on an area that has been neglected rather badly due to war – they still have many hindrances – bureaucratic, financial and just the frequent reminders of war – checkpoints - its tragic that they spend some resources on this pantomine – for two years they are not even fighting - while the people whom they fight in the name off are in such dire need.

Eventually, we had a discussion with the VC on the future action.