The executive director of the Sri Lankan organisation Equal
Ground, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, said: "The magnitude
of the catastrophe that affected Sri Lanka on Boxing Day is something
that is hardlydescribable. Members of Equal Ground have not only
given of their timeand energy to volunteer for relief efforts, but also
have spent their own money buying essentials like medicine and food,
and donating it to
the larger organizations sending the trucks to the
north, east and
Flamer-Calders said "many of the gay 'spaces' in the south and also in
Negombo to the north of Colombo were damaged or wiped out by the
tsunami. ... This horrible, horrible disaster has knocked Sri Lanka so
bad that it will take years and years to rebuild."
In Indonesia, gay groups have been unable to get any
information from the most-affected areas.
"We don't know about the effect of the tsunami on gay
people in Aceh and
North Sumatra," said Dédé Oetomo, head of GAYa
NUSANTARA. "We never had
any organized contact in Aceh or the island of Nias in
which have been hardest-hit.
"Medan, the major city on the eastern coast with a
population, was spared due to its distance from the
said. "The good news is that gay organizations are
fundraising and collecting donations together with
In Thailand, the gay resort of Phuket was hard-hit. It
has many gay
guest houses, restaurants, bars, shops and
coffeehouses. But, according
to Ulf Mikaelsson and Börje Carlsson, two Swedes who
run the Connect
Guest House and Coffee Bar, most of the gay businesses
are "far enough
from the beach to be untouched by the tragedy."
"The day of the tsunami disaster, the Connect, with
television connection, was one of the only sources of
news coverage of
the tragedy as it unfolded," the couple wrote in an
e-mail. "Scores of
native and foreign gays gathered around the mounted
television and ate,
drank and bonded with each other as news came in as to
the losses being
"Right now, the Phuket gay community is busy raising
funds for those
Thais and foreigners who suffered injury and loss due
to the tidal
wave," the couple said. "It will take some months to
clean up and
rebuild the beach area, but everything else on the
island, 500 yards or
more from the beach, is exactly as it was -- untouched
by the tsunami.
... If you want to help us in Patong, do not cancel
your tour to Patong
Beach. Now more than ever we need your support."
Carlsson described his own experience of the tsunami.
"It was a clear blue sky and we were having our
morning coffee at Connect when we heard people screaming that the beach
had disappeared," he said. "When I got close to the beach I heard more
screaming and suddenly I saw this huge wave, taller than the palm
trees, coming to crash down on us. ... We rushed into a hotel as the
huge wave rolled into Patong Beach. The giant wave flooded the lobby
within seconds and dragged furniture onto the street. I had to wrap
myself around a pillar to avoid being swept away. As I was standing there, a
car actually floated into the lobby and overturned because the
current was so strong. The water was up to my chest and I was holding on to
my boyfriend's hand because he can't swim."
"It's a strange feeling to walk from one side of
Rath-U-Thit road to the other," Carlsson said. "On one side it looks like a
war zone and on the other side nothing had changed."
©2005 WINS Photography ©2004 UNICEF
UK Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal
Companions on a Journey