March 24 – The Citizen

‘They deserve your pennies’

Dr Tush and her partner, Gary Cutter, have hit the ground running in Sri Lanka – and immediately come up against problems.

But the couple from Milton Keynes are pressing on with their dream to build a children’s hospital in the Tsunami ravaged country.

Since arriving there three weeks ago they have toured the disaster zone from the capital Colombo to Galle.

The sight was “sad and shocking” said Tush, who has sold almost everything, including her beloved Mercedes, to bankroll their £25,000 venture. “Almost three months after the disaster struck there is rubble everywhere, people in makeshift shelters, wooden huts and refugee camps. Everyone we met seems to know someone or has personal experience of the tragedy. Life is grim for those left homeless and orphaned. We witnessed the hospitals, homes and businesses, mainly fishing industry and hotels that have been destroyed. The empty shells of these building still remain,” she said.

But life goes on and people are fighting back with water provided by the International Red Cross and Sri Lankan NGOs and large semi-permanent tents and wooden huts provided by aid agencies. But the couple have not yet seen large-scale clearance or reconstruction.

Their original plan was to build a new children’s hospital on a Green field site but after seeing the existing General Hospital at Kalutara and talking to doctors, administrators, architects and engineers it has been agreed to build it there.

Using Gary’s expertise as a builder they had hoped to keep costs low but Tush reports that since the Tsunami building materials and labour charges have become very expensive.

“Therefore phase one has become smaller due to our limited funding” she said.

Now the Milton Keynes GP is appealing for more cash and importantly, donated medical equipment like cot beds, incubators and suction machines as well as building materials, air conditioning units – “anything” pleased Tush. “The children of Sri Lanka deserve your pennies”