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The aftermath of the tsunami
Fred Ramsey visits one of the temporary camps in Abassawalla, Sri Lanka
Fred visits one of the temporary camps in Abassawalla, Sri Lanka
Last updated: 21 March 2005 0808 GMT
lineFred Ramsey, from Gloucester, has just returned from getting a first hand view of the devastation caused to Sri Lanka by the Boxing Day tsunami...

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Fred was born in Sri Lanka, he has served in the Royal Air Force and he moved to Gloucester because his children went to school in the city. He divides his time between his Gloucester home and his native country.

He recently visited us here at BBC Gloucestershire to talk about what's going on in Sri Lanka after the tsunami and a very special project he's got in the pipeline to help children orphaned by the disaster.


Certain parts of Sri Lanka were completely devastated by the tsunami that hit the island and Fred returned in January 2005 to see what had happened first hand. He has spent around three months in the country and what he saw there makes him believe that little has been done to help the immediate suffering of the people, he says:

Fred with displaced Sri Lankans

"When you go to Colombo [capital of Sri Lanka] you don't even feel that there's something gone wrong with Sri Lanka but when you travel to [places] like Galle then it's really appalling.

Still they're struggling, there's no aid getting in and most victims still do not have proper shelter. They still live in open sheds or under plastic sheeting.

There are an awful lot of things that foreign governments can do to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government to let aid get in so that those poor people can have a comfortable life."

It seems quite difficult to imagine that people could still be lacking the basics like food and shelter after so much money was raised by people all over the world. Why does Fred believe it's not getting through? He explains:

"I feel that what happened was when the tsunami came and quite a lot of people collected money, they didn't have a proper organisation to put the money in so what they did was, they gave all of the money to the Red Cross, Unicef, Oxfam and so on, and they are unable to operate [effectively] over there [in Sri Lanka] with the rules and regulations.

Also I have to say that all the containers that people sent, they're getting rotten in Sri Lanka because all of a sudden they put duty on them, and the people who came to distribute them, they had no money to clear them. So they were just left.

I met an Italian lady and when she managed to open one container, all of the food and everything had just gone rotten. Foreign governments should really put the pressure on them to stop this paying of duty."

Hope for the future

Fred with Sri Lankan orphans

Fred is now putting his energies into setting up an orphanage to help the children whose parents were killed by the tsunami disaster.

He intends to look after at least 20 children and provide for their future.

He's determined to make it happen and he revealed he'd go as far as selling his home to fund the project. He explains:

"I got the backing of the Prime Minister [of Sri Lanka], I got the land and I got the planning permission all passed.

I'm stuck with the financial side of it so, if I don't get any support from the public, I'll sell up. I got a small property, I'll sell that and then start doing it because I've got to think about their futures in twenty years time when they reach the real world and I've still got the responsibility for those kids."

Listen to the full interview with Fred Ramsey

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