Bid to help tsunami victims

HELP us to help them!That's the plea today as final preparations are put in place for a fundraising exhibition for the disaster-ravaged community of Negombo in Sri Lanka.

HELP us to help them!

That's the plea today as final preparations are put in place for a fundraising exhibition for the disaster-ravaged community of Negombo in Sri Lanka.

The Evening Star is sponsoring an exhibition of pictures by photographer Nicky Lewin at Ipswich Corn Exchange from tomorrow which aims to raise thousands of pounds to help people in Sri Lanka pick up the pieces after Boxing Day's tsunami.

Negombo is a series of fishing villages which have become a popular tourist resort about 35 kilometres north of the capital Colombo on the western coast of Sri Lanka.

Compared with communities on the south east coast of the country, it did not suffer major loss of life in the disaster.

But the wave left devastation in its wake - homes, businesses, health centres and schools were all destroyed.

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Now the Star is hoping to help raise money to help this community in crisis.

We know that the British people have been very generous in their reaction to appeals for aid following the disaster.

But much of the money that has been raised has gone to the general relief effort spread throughout Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the other countries affected by the tsunami.

Individual communities like Negombo have not seen much help so far as the aid effort is concentrating on areas of maximum devastation and where lives are still at risk.

Former Star and EADT photographer Nicky visited Sri Lanka last month and captured these powerful images from Negombo.

He's returning to the area at the weekend, and hopes to take good news for the stricken people there.

He said: "Things are very bad in Negombo. In some parts there has been a start made on reconstruction, but in other areas it is exactly the same as it was in the immediate aftermath.

"There is a desperate need for help among the local residents there - it seems as if the major aid effort hasn't reached that area yet."

And while the population there is not starving, Nicky said food aid was needed.

"People are starting to go hungry in Negombo - it's not like Ethiopia or anything like that yet, but hunger is becoming a problem."

The Star is hoping to raise £5,000 through the exhibition at the Limelight bar in the Corn Exchange.

This will be sent soon to Negombo to help ease the situation for local population.

Nicky said: "The people there have absolutely nothing at the moment. If £5,000 could be raised that would make a tremendous difference on the ground."

To help raise the money, local firms are being asked to add their names to a scroll of honour.

We hope that 30 firms will pay £100 each for this - which would raise £3,000 and go a long way towards reaching the total.

The exhibition of Nicky's photographs from Sri Lanka opens tomorrow evening at 6pm and will run for a fortnight.

It will be open from 8.30am to 5.30pm on Mondays and 8.30am to 10.30pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Please visit and make your contribution to bringing life back to Negombo.

How has the tsunami affected you? Do you have a story of people helping those affected? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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