I am back in Sri Lanka after a very succesful exhibition in Vancouver at Visualspace. 'Sri Lanka After The Tsunami' was well received on all levels and I have to say that even though it has been nearly six years since I first started working on the project, it now seems like yesterday. I have returned to the gorgeous island of Sri Lanka to re-visit the people that I photographed, to see how they are coping and to also present the Tsunami Museum with a combined donation from the very generous people that visited my exhibition and also from my mother in England who graciously, without prompting, donated $200 to the cause. Thanks mum!
Revisiting the tsunami survivors has turned out to be an uplifting yet emotional experience.
I started my journey of rediscovery by heading from Kumbura Eco Lodge in Sigiriya, to the eastern coastal town of Trincomalle. Just north of Trinco, is a small fishing village called Nilavelli.This is where I first met Samindu, who's sad story inspired me to embark on this project. Armed with photographs of my subjects we went into the village and showed them to people to see if they knew where he was. It was with great sadness that I soon learned of Samindu's untimely death just months ago. He had died from a heart attack. I was gutted and quickly became worried that this may be the case in other parts of the country. I had naively imagined that I would find everyone alive and well. On the positive side, I was informed by one villager that Samindu had a daughter that had survived the tsunami ( I was under the impression that he had lost his entire family, but this daughter had been living inland at the time of the tsunami and had decided to move back to the coast to look after her father.) With the help of the villagers I was directed to her house and was able to give her a photo of her father and to express my deepest sympathies. She was very grateful, if not a little overwhelmed at seeing my image of her father. She told me that her father had died of a broken heart...
I will remain forever grateful to Samindu for allowing me to share his story with the world. Bless you machan. May you rest in peace, reunited with your loved ones.