SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — After learning of the devastation in her homeland and across Southeast Asia as a result of the historic earthquake and tsunami on Dec. 26, Petal Morais, Wittenberg Class of 2005, was motivated to help.
At the first meeting of the Wittenberg Student Senate on Jan. 11, Morais, who is the International Senator, brought several ideas to the table in hopes of raising money to send to Sri Lanka to help in the re-building efforts. As a unit, Student Senate decided to call upon the Wittenberg community to get involved by encouraging the development of fund-raising strategies by individual campus organizations. Morais was appointed chair of the relief fund.
All funds raised will be sent to an organization called Galle Doctors Project for Shelter Trust, which is headed by Morais’ uncle, Dehan Gunasekara, a physician with Teaching Hospital Karapitiya (THK) in Galle, Sri Lanka, one of the hardest hit areas. Donations from Wittenberg will be used to help the organization build houses for families presently living in refugee camps in the area. The maximum amount given to one family would be $1,000, which translates into $100,000 Rupees, the Sri Lankan currency.
The recipient families are being given raw material instead of money to prevent mis-use of funds. Gunasekara and other doctors from the teaching hospital are personally supervising every step of the process, and he has made assurances that donors will be notified of progress regularly.
“This is a worthwhile effort to help people who desperately need our assistance,” said Morais, a psychology major at Wittenberg and an intern in the university’s department of human resources. “I urge everyone to take part in the fund-raising effort because together we can make an impact on the ongoing rebuilding efforts.”
Gunasekara was in Colombo, the capital city, with his family and was not present in Galle on the day the tsunami struck Sri Lanka and a dozen other southeast Asian nations. He has been working with relief efforts in and around the city since the event occurred.
Morais and the Student Senate are hoping to raise at least $5,000, which will directly go to the construction of five new houses in Galle. Several student organizations have already contacted Morais with ideas, including Circle K, which had a meal swap at the Center Dining Room (CDR) with members giving up a meal and donating the cost of it; Pocket Lint, which is donating half of the proceeds of a recent show; and Christine Maddox, Wittenberg Class of 2007 and a Firestine Hall resident assistant, who is organizing a spare change collection. Personal donations are also being accepted.
In addition to on-campus efforts, Morais plans to contact local businesses in hopes that they may have an interest in participating as well. Flyers and banners are being prepared and will be distributed throughout the community.
Contributions can be sent directly to Morais, or they can be deposited in a special Wittenberg account established for tsunami relief. To get that account number or to ask questions, contact Morais by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (937) 505-5878. Student Senate established a deadline of Feb. 18 for all fund-raising efforts.
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