An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE HORRIFYING CARNAGE in Sri Lanka this week — just the latest in a seemingly never-ending stream of horrifying carnage — is a long way from Kamloops and we might be tempted to think it has nothing much to do with us.
But Kamloops and Sri Lanka have close ties going back to the tsunami of 2004. Kamloops was one of the first cities to extend a helping hand, and we kept on helping long after the world had moved on to the next big disaster and the next news cycle.
I was honored to sign a friendship agreement with the mayor of Tangalle, a village on the coast of Sri Lanka, not long after the tsunami destroyed so much infrastructure, and took so many lives there.
Kamloops volunteers — many working through Developing World Connections and the Tangalle Project Committee — traveled to Sri Lanka to build new homes for those who lost everything in the tsunami. A woodworking factory and a training center were established. Tangalle students were sponsored to come to Kamloops schools for English immersion.
It all took place against the backdrop of the Sri Lanken Civil War that ravaged the country at the time.
As CFJC Today reported this week, some Kamloops residents maintain their connection with Sri Lanka through business or volunteer interests. With the cessation of the Tamil conflict in 2009, times have been peaceful in Sri Lanka.
That changed with the deaths of more than 300 people in a series of terrorist bombings in hotels and churches in Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka and a city familiar to the many Kamloopsians who have been there, and a good many who hail from there.
They feel a special sense of grief at the terrible events in Sri Lanka this week.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.