Marshall Priest Working For Tsunami Relief - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/29/04-Longview

Marshall Priest Working For Tsunami Relief

As part of the massive relief efforts underway, an East Texan, who is also a native of Sri Lanka, is doing all he can to help his devastated native countrymen. Work for disaster relief has been non-stop for father Denzil Vithanage of Marshall, ever since a parishioner of St. Joseph's Catholic Church told him what happened in Sri Lanka.

"I literally fell. I said earthquake in Sri Lanka? Almost seven hours I had to live in agony without knowing what's going on in Sri Lanka," the priest said.

Vithanage tried for hours to call home to find out if his friends and family were all right, finally getting through. "My father who is almost 80, in tears he said son I have never seen such a disaster in my life," he said. Since that conversation, the priest has worked tirelessly gathering donations from churches and individuals. He's angered at statements by U-N officials made this week that American efforts in relief aid were stingy.

"Was shocked to hear that statement, people have been extremely generous, especially in East Texas, every word is 'what can we do what can we do?' East Texans were so generous and I was able to send ten-thousand dollars to Sri Lanka".

One dollar is worth a hundred rupies, a small fortune to the average person in Sri Lanka who only makes 100 rupies a month. Tourism drives the economy there, and Vithanage says the disaster leaves many in staggering poverty. But he believes his adopted country will make the difference.

"I know the Lord blessed the USA, and continues to bless the USA and I turn to the Lord and say God bless the USA, and I need your generosity, I need your love I need your prayers," Vithanage said.

If you would like to help in the relief effort, father Vithanage asks that you make donations to the Diocese of Tyler, or St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Marshall.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.

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