Dawn Hayden, who recently returned from Sri Lanka, where she was volunteer site director in tsunami recovery efforts by Community Focused Disaster Response (CFDR) in the small community of Komari, will speak at Gonzaga University from 3:45-5 p.m., Monday, Sept. 11 in Room 104 of the Jepson Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Hayden, who spearheaded a regional response to the devastating tsumani in South Asia, will share her experiences as a volunteer working to relieve the human tragedy wrought by the tsunami that struck South Asia on Dec. 26, 2004.
Several local firefighters, along with other volunteers from the Spokane and Missoula, Mont., areas, traveled to Sri Lanka to offer assistance in the wake of the tsunami. They focused on the small community of Komari and began the intense and often overwhelming work of rebuilding an entire village, with a key difference. This team of volunteers partnered with Komari residents to ensure that the local community’s goals and needs were the driving force for the rebuilding and renewal of Komari. In the process, the nonprofit organization CFDR was formed.
“I am living in this village, love this village, and am concerned about the physical, emotional and spiritual help of the people here,” Hayden wrote.
“CFDR is doing amazing work. By providing tangible means to lift some of the barriers of oppression through education, safe living environments, basic needs and economic development we are assisting this village in transforming itself.”
The Komari successes to date include the regular testing and cleaning of wells, swimming lessons for the children, construction and repair of homes, construction of a community playground, and the restoration of the village temple.
Ongoing goals in Komari include equal access to education for children, sustainable and clean drinking water, basic sanitation, construction of a dune building and beach barrier.
“We are the hope, they are the experts,” Hayden said.
For more information about Hayden’s visit to Gonzaga, contact Sima Thorpe, director of the Gonzaga’s Center for Community Action and Service-Learning (CCASL) at (509) 323-6856 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.