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Sunday, 16 January 2005  
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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

Silumina  on-line Edition

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Guest editorial

This week's guest editorial has been sent by H.A. Erandi Harischandra of Rathnavali Girls' School, Gampaha.

Love and care for all

As human beings, we like to be loved by others and we expect kindness and protection from those who are always with us. To survive, we need food, water, shelter and protection, more than anything else. But, love and care are always prominent where humans are concerned.

Every human being has the right to lead a blissful life with love and care. However, love and care have been forgotten by many people in the fast-paced modern world.

If we pay attention to the society around us, we will see a lot of people suffering due to the lack of love and care. There are children who have lost their parents' love and protection due to the war, natural disasters and numerous family problems. Consequently, these little ones have to face severe problems in their lives.

Aged parents who have been neglected by their children are also an example of this tragedy. Not only beggars, but also small children in orphanages and old people in elders homes are victims of this society. They have lost the chance to be loved and cared for by their family members.

Cruel people in our society who cannot understand the value of lives are engaged in various crimes. Not only humans, but also animals are suffering in this world today.

Now the time has come to understand the value of love and care. We don't like to be helpless or to be hated by others. So we should treat others the same way. It is now the time to love our world and start protecting all in it.

Earthquake prophets from the animal kingdom

It has been proved that many animals can sense an earthquake long before even today's most sophisticated seismological equipment can. However, scientists in the West are reluctant to accept this theory even though many in the East do.

There are records of unusual canine behaviour before many major earthquakes that took place around the world, even the catastrophic San Francisco quake in 1906. The documented reports claim that prior to many of these major quakes, the canines howled hysterically and barked non-stop, while in some instances, they simply ran away from the areas.

Not only canines, but animals such as rats, snakes,elephants, birds and water-dwelling birds too can sense impending earthquakes.

There are records of unusual behaviour from marine life too.

Scientists believe that as an earthquake is preceded by ground vibrations, snakes, insects and other animals living close to the ground are very much more sensitive to these tremors than we humans are. Their unusual behaviour is an early warning.

Elephants have infrasound communication. They can pick up sounds, which humans cannot hear from distances of many kilometres. Many foreigners in Thailand could recall how the elephants had started trumpeting and wailing before the giant waves struck. The animals couldn't be comforted by their mahouts and started running uphill.In fact, they had saved many tourists from death.

Some birds that use low-frequency sound waves as guides on their long-distance journeys are believed to detect infrasonic waves that are yielded from some quake-associated movements of underground gas.

And according to scientists, there are positive electrical ions (the electrically-charged particles which are atoms with additional electrons) in the air and these are said to build up before an earthquake, due to massive pre-quake compression of subterranean rocks.

Many animals, from rats to birds are able to detect them long before we do.

Now we know that there are many earthquake prophets in the animal world. So, if you notice any unusual behaviour on the part of animals in future, be on the look out for danger.

UNICEF to rehabilitate affected children

Many world leaders visited Sri Lanka during the past couple of weeks. They brought aid in many ways to help rebuild the country following the massive devastation caused by the tsunami.

Among these world leaders, there was one personality who was especially important for children. That was the Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy.

During her visit to Sri Lanka early this month, Bellamy said that UNICEF will take measures to find the parents or extended family members of children who have lost their parents due to the tidal waves.

Bellami said that if they do not succeed in finding the parents or relatives of these children, steps will be taken to provide shelter to them in homes under the supervision of the Probation and Childcare Services Department.

During her stay here, Bellamy visited Matara, Batticaloa, Ampara and Mullaitivu. She stressed that keeping child victims alive, caring for children separated from relatives and protecting children from exploitation were the priorities of UNICEF.

She said that UNICEF will provide alternative 'schools and school-in-a-bag' and recreation kits for child victims.

UNICEF is engaged in trauma counselling, provision of food and good sanitation for tsunami victims.

According to studies, over one third of the tsunami victims in Sri Lanka were children.

Nearly 300 children have lost both their parents.

Haj festival

The Haj festival will be celebrated by Muslims all over the world on January 21. Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam. A Muslim believes religion is incomplete without it.

This year, over two million Muslims from all parts of the world will converge on Makkah to perform Haj. Among them, nearly six thousand will be from Sri Lanka.

The completion of Haj marks the Eid-ul Azha (Haj festival). Eid prayers will be conducted in all mosques. In Sri Lanka Eid prayers will be held at the Galle Face Green. We wish all our Muslim readers a Happy Eid-ul-Azha!

Help to construct damaged schools

Large numbers of volunteers have pledged assistance for the reconstruction of schools which have been damaged in the tsunami, according to the Ministry of Education.

The Ministry has already completed compiling the details of schools which had been completely or partially damaged in all the districts affected by the tsunami.

The Education Desk at the Centre for National Operations will handle the offers for school reconstruction.

They will also deal with the task of assigning the volunteers to the affected schools identified by the Ministry.

Post-tsunami health guidelines

The Health Education Bureau has issued guidelines that people should follow to prevent diseases breaking out among displaced populations in areas affected by the recent tsunami.

* Those living in refugee camps and houses in affected areas should use boiled, cooled water for drinking. If not, they should try to use bottled or chlorinated drinking water.

* Cooked food should be kept covered to safeguard them from flies. Try to eat food soon after it is cooked.

* Hands should be washed with soap before eating or feeding children and after using the toilet.

* Keep your environment as clean as possible to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and other insects, thereby minimising the spread of diseases. Carcasses of dead animals should be buried immediately.

* People returning to affected homes should be extremely careful of damp walls and broken glass and nails found in the debris. They should also beware of damaged electric wires which may electrocute them. Accumulated water in the environment should be drained off.

* A person having more than three motions per day, constant running nose, cough or sneezing, should immediately report to health officials. People with a cough or sneezing should use a mask made of clean cloth to prevent infecting others.

NIE programmes for tsunami victims

The National Institute of Education (NIE) has launched a welfare programme for children studying in Grade 1 to 9 who have lost their parents, guardians or caretakers in the recent tsunami disaster and a counselling programme for the victims.

Regarding the welfare programme, the NIE immediately needs data about the number of affected children, their permanent residential area and address and the grades they had been studying in at the time of the disaster.

The NIE is also launching an all-island counselling programme on stress management for tidal wave victims.

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