Devastated mum's heartbreak as tsunami claims 22 family members
NO-ONE can fail to have been moved by the tragic scenes left by the Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day.
Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, communities have been destroyed and millions of people have been left homeless and alone.
The impact of the disaster has been felt across the world and this week, one woman who left Sri Lanka two years ago to come to Glasgow, spoke of her heartbreak at losing 22 members of her family.
Nahula Maheswaran (38) is from the Batticaloa region of Sri Lanka on the east coast. It was one of the worst hit areas in the country, and ethnic tensions between the government and Tamil Tigers have restricted aid reaching certain parts.
She told the Herald: "I was watching the news on the TV and at the same time my sister phoned me to tell me what was happening in Sri Lanka.
"I couldn't contact my mum. After a few days I phoned the post office which is close to my mum's house and I managed to get in touch with her.
"Now I am talking to her every day."
She went on: "I found out about my twenty-two relatives last week. My brother is still missing.
"They were all together so we knew they were gone. We have lost so many people.
"My sister-in-law's family has lost all their properties. It is just sand. Everything is gone now.
"I felt very bad when I heard the news and saw the pictures. I took it very badly.
"Sometimes I didn't feel like eating because I have all this and these people have nothing.
"When you see the small babies, you can never imagine something like this."
Nahula lives in Royston with her two children Indhujan (8) and Priya (6), who both attend St Roch's Primary School.
She is seeking asylum in the UK and said she is frustrated because she can't go back and help the people in her country.
"There are so many small children. Their parents couldn't help them.
"My mum is very old, I am worried about her because there is nobody near her now.
"But she says, 'Don't worry about me, there are plenty of people like me. Think about the small children and their future.'
"But I am caring about everybody."
Nahula has been speaking to St Roch's Primary School about raising money for Sri Lanka, and the best place to send it.
The school has already held a no-uniform day which raised over 500 and all the money they will be raising in the run up to Lent will go to Mission Together, a charity which works in Sri Lanka and focuses on children helping children.
Nahula went on: "The problem is that all the countries are giving donations but it is going to the government and not to the people who are really affected by it. There are political problems.
"My mum was in the camp, but she has been moved because she is old.
"People can't live there, they have no proper food. They are being given dahl and pumpkin every day which is not good for the children.
"I want the money to be used in the proper way. My mum has told me if the money goes to a convent, the sisters or fathers in the church will know the best way to use the money.
"The sisters run the schools there, I started in a convent school."
Nahula admitted that working with the school has helped her feel as if she is doing something.
She explained: "I feel that I want to do lots of things but I am helpless here.
"To do this and raise money with the school really makes me happy. At least I can do something else for my country, I am really happy about that."
St Roch's principal teacher Brendan O'Hagan said: "As a school we feel directly affected by this, because there are a lot of families from Sri Lanka in the area who have lost people.
"We have been thinking about what we can do in the St Roch's community. The little we can do, we're trying to do.
"The school community has been very generous. We know that Christmas is an expensive time for a lot of people, and we were asking them for more but they have been wonderful.
"We are very grateful to the parents and the community in the school who gave to the no-uniform day, we never expected to raise more than a couple of hundred so to raise over 500 was excellent."
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Weather for Kirkintilloch
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 9 C to 22 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North west