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We Arrive in Sri Lanka

Greg_and_pallets_of_pur_1The sachets and I have landed in Sri Lanka!   All 5 million are safely unloaded and going through the next part of their journey, customs clearance in Sri Lanka.

Flooding_in_sri_lankaIt's an hour from the airport to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.   It's a Buddhist festival today but most of the normal celebrations have been cancelled.  Instead, people are attending remembrance ceremonies.    There's very little damage in Colombo from the tsunami as this is on the western side of the island away from where the waves hit.  The damage starts on the south coast and all up the eastern coast to the north. 

My work is to make sure we have plans to deliver the sachets to the survivors.  It's amazing how our partnerships are really paying off for us now.   In the end, AmeriCares transported product not only for themselves, but for World Vision, UNICEF, Red Cross, and Adventist Development & Relief Agency International (ADRA).  Of course, our P&G Pakistan team donated this product and pulled off miracles to get it loaded.   PSI Pakistan was critical in getting us through the logistics.   And, World Vision agreed to accept all of the sachets and get them through customs before dividing them up between the various groups. 

In the next few days, I'll meet with all the various groups to ensure we have the right materials in place for training and implementation of the PUR sachets.  AmeriCares is doing a fantastic job of coordination amongst the various groups.   UNICEF has sent Mansoor Ali, one of their top water and sanitation experts from New York.   Mansoor and I have been working together for years and he's grateful to P&G for our work here.   He has a thorough understanding of PUR and it's great to have such expertise as part of the team.   

Samaritan's Purse had already landed 1 million sachets of PUR and they are about ready to start sending out product.   I have a late night meeting in the warehouse where they're preparing 50,000 buckets to accompany the sachets. They've translated the instructions into both Tamil and Sinhala.  Some of the other groups are still working on the translation, so Samaritan's Purse agrees to share their translated materials.  I meet a local Baptist men's group who will be going to the northeast coast tomorrow to deploy the PUR.   As fellow North Carolinians, we talk the same language and enjoy some conversation about home. 

Samaritans_purse_teamThere's definitely a sense of common purpose and eagerness to do what's needed, despite the continuing logistical details.   While this work is critical, I'm eager to see first-hand people benefiting from use of PUR.   So Samaritan's Purse donates some of the product back to me, along with the instructions and buckets.   I make arrangements to head south tomorrow.

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