Americans win Hearts with Community service

Daily India
Cozaar cough treatment Americans win hearts with community service
The senior American diplomatsA?a??E? participation in the unusual community effort earned them the gratitude of locals in Balapitiya, one of the scores of villages battered by the December 2004 tsunami.

Located about 15 km from the beachside town of Bentota, the villagers were pleasantly surprised to see the Americans volunteer to help build houses and pick up tools.

The diplomats made bricks and plastered walls of the new houses, working side by side with local community members and families. For four hours, everyone worked non-stop.

A?a??E?We made community service an integral part of our annual conferences because we believe we should practice the values we try to promote around the world,A?a??E? said Philip Frayne of the US embassy here.

A?a??E?Rather than spend all our time inside a nice hotel talking, we felt we should lend a hand to tsunami victims where we could,A?a??E? Frayne told IANS.

A?a??E?We recognise that the work we did for only four hours was more symbolic than anything else. But we believe that it was important to show Sri Lankans we were willing to get hot and dirty and sore to back up our principles,A?a??E? he added.

Most diplomats were veterans, with 15-25 years in the diplomatic service. They had gathered in Sri Lanka for a meeting of Public Affairs Counselors from US embassies in South Asia and Central Asia, besides officials from Washington.

Their meeting had been called March 22-25 to discuss the American governmentA?a??E?s educational, cultural and press programmes in the region.

The houses were being built by Habitat for Humanity organisation, an American group with programmes dedicated to building low-cost houses in countries around the world.

Jeremy Curtin, deputy director of International Information Programs at the State Department, was the senior-most diplomat involved in the service.

Frayne explained this was not the first time American diplomats had done community service, however symbolic.

A?a??E?The idea for incorporating a community service project into our annual conferences came up several years ago,A?a??E? he said. A?a??E?Last year we spent half a day clearing the grounds of an orphanage in Kerala.A?a??E?

After spending half a day in the Sri Lankan village, the American diplomats ate packet lunches of rice and curry at the site!

Were the locals happy?

A?a??E?The residents seemed very pleased and appreciative to have a large group of Americans help them build their houses, even if only for a very short time,A?a??E? said Frayne.

A?a??E?A part of their appreciation was simply their eagerness to meet Americans and explain their situation to them.A?a??E?

US assistance to Sri Lanka following the devastating December 2004 tsunami that claimed some 30,000 lives is valued at more than $130 million in many different sectors, from immediate humanitarian relief to long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation.

The American embassy, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has opened the first of 85 new playgrounds for children affected by the tsunami.

It hopes to soon start work on building a new bridge and access roads in Cost of danazol Arugam Bay on the east coast to replace those washed away by the tsunami.

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