News From Dr. Enoka
I got a dispiriting e-mail from Dr. Enoka Wickramasingherecently. She is the mental health officer for Weligama. We used funds raised in the U.S. to buy her a computer so she could keep track of people mentally affected by the tsunami.
Enoka writes that people are getting discouraged because, nearly six months after the tsunami, it is still not clear when their permanent houses will be rebuilt. Most tsunami victims are staying in refugee camps or other temporary accommodations. Fishermen are still without boats. Since their own boats haven't been repaired in most cases, they are without work. Their only hope is to work as day laborers on the boats of richer fishermen.
In Enoka's opinion, all this is going to have a negative impact on the psychological health of the villagers. There is little a psychiatrist can do to help people who are without work and without houses. As Enoka writes, "However much I or anybody else goes and talks to the people, their problems will not be solved until their needs are met."
-- Michael Dobbs