Tsunami victims still in thoughts one month later

Approximately 30 University community members honored the one-month anniversary of the Asia tsunamis Saturday in the dimly lit terrace of the St. Paul Student Center.

Organized by the India Association of Minnesota, members of several faiths came to share stories, raise money and pray for the thousands of victims.

“There is a great responsibility in all of us to contribute, whether it be in the form of a monetary donation or simple prayer,” said Ramesh Muniswamy, the association’s vice president and India Association of Minnesota Rehabilitation Fund co-chairman.

A brief musical performance began the hour-long prayer service, and representatives rose to speak on behalf of the Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh faiths.

Several speakers said they were in areas affected by the deadly tsunami and shared their experiences with the crowd, which listened intensely in silence.

Balki Radhakrishnan said he was visiting a government official in a Madras, India, office building as the tsunami waves swept in. Immediately, a constant flow of emergency phone calls started pouring into the office.

Radhakrishnan, India Association of Minnesota Rehabilitation Fund co-chairman, said he then drove near the coastline, saw the immediate destruction and knew why the phones rang.

“The sights and sounds will forever be etched in my memory. Long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation is what’s required,” he said.

Pictures of devastation and mourning victims were projected continuously on a stage during the event.

“We need to help the men, women and children who are suffering the loss of loved ones, their homes and their entire savings,” said Dilip Mallick, India Association of Minnesota president.

“They have nothing left, nowhere to go,” he said.

Mallick said all the funds raised will directly aid the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

Refreshments and pledge cards were supplied to attendees following the service.

Muniswamy said the association plans on hosting similar fund-raisers in and around the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, including a dinner and cultural event.

“This is one of our first steps in a huge effort,” Muniswamy said.