such great women. They were completely unlike any of the pictures we have of Mus- lim women. They were businesswomen, all over town, doing things, having things done, ordering the men around, owning businesses. It was a pleasant surprise and a lot offun. I really enjoyed them." Owens spent the last half of her stay working in the handicapped shelter and an 'orphanage overwheh11ed by tsunami vic- tims and children left by families who no longer could care for them. There she had some emotionally difficult moments. "You'd walk in the orphanage and see all those babies lined up. That would just knock me out," Owens said. "And then over where the handicapped children were, that place would just break your heart." In the orphanage, she met children with cystic fibrosis and learned there was no facility for them, nobody to give them the special care they needed. "I just thought I'm not sure it was so good that they survived the tsunami;' she said."You just got that sad feeling for thenl." But she appreciated the cheerfi.liness and
energy she frequently encountered in the
villagers. "They're happy, they're positive.
They're never lonely or lonesome. They're
always with people that care about them,
look after them. Everybody looks after
everybody. All the old people are inte-
grated with the younger people. They all
live together communally. And that's nice."
In their weeks in Mahamodera, individ-
ual volunteers were the only Westerners
her team encountered, Owens said. "We
never saw the U.N., the Red Cross or
CARE or Save the Children or UNESCO.
We saw them a few times riding by in
trucks, but they never came to our village."
On the beach at lunch one day, however,
she ran into a man from Carrboro who
was in Sri Lanka teaching English when
the tsunanu hit. He told her a group of
UNC-trained nurses also were there help-
ing out; she never saw them.
Owens was part of a group organized by
Global Crossroad, an international volunteer
placement service based in Baton Rouge,
La. She bought her own air ticket and paid
a fee to cover her room, board and local
transportation, all of which the agency
arranged. Her teanl included volunteers
from Dubai, England, Spain, Canada, Ire-
land, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Global
Crossroad put the team members in touch
with one another and with the monks of
Mahanlodera's Buddlust monastery, Sri
GWlodaya Maha Pirivena, which had served
as a shelter after the tsunami.
KATHLEEN KEARNS is afreelance writer
based in Chapel Hill.
Donations can be made to Ruhunu
Childrens Receiving Home and sent to
Owens' attention at 902 E. Franklin Street
No. 6, Chapel Hill, NC. 27514.
Not responsible for typographical errors. © 2005 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
CAR0 LINA ALU M NI R.EVlEW