Actually I am 52 years old, and this has been one of the most fulfilling moments of my live, a very motivating and emotional experience.

I have past three days with the families of the 72 houses built by the Spanish Lions in the southern part of Sri Lanka, in the province of Hambantoto. During these three days, I spoke with each one of the families; I heard their stores, made over 700 pictures of them with their new homes and found out what else could be done for those families.

When the tragedy occurred, we asked the clubs of Spain to try a sponsor a house, some clubs where very generous, and sponsored many houses. I promised each Club that gave enough money for a house, would have one with there name on it, and that I would personally go and make pictures of the houses and the families.

I must admit the houses are of a very good quality, in many cases, I am sure they are much better than what they had before, the new home owners where very happy and extremely grateful. The houses consist of a living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. Plus each house has a piece of land, which most of them have planted vegetables and fruit trees. LCIF and the local Lions have done a marvellous job.

Each family is a tragic story, and many of them have lost a husband, a father, sons, and most of them all their personal belongings, including their business. It’s very sad to see that almost all the houses are totally empty, that makes you understand that not only they have lost there families, they have lost everything.

Most of these houses just have one bed and a few plastic chairs. It would be impossible for me to tell each story, but some are very tragic, but that the same time, it’s admirable to see that they have a great smile in their faces and looking forward to progress in life. Beautiful people, they really made me feel proud to be a Lion.

I just would like to give a couple of examples; there was a elder woman that had lost her husband that was a doctor, she tries to survive by planting little red peppers in her garden and has a little cat as her only company. Or a young man, that was a bus driver and the wave overturned the bus. He had badly injured his back, to such a point that he is paraplegic. Now he is on a wheelchair, and tries to make a living with an extremely small shop that sells next to nothing, just little fruit and some other minor things. For me it was incredible that he could make a living with that.

I must say that I was lucky, a club gave me some money to spend there, and after considering different cases, we decided to buy 5 sewing machines, some equipment for a construction worker, and food the young man on the wheelchair I mentioned before, so he can start off a business. It was incredible for me to see that with about 1.000$ we may of changed the life of 7 families, we gave them the “fishing rod”.

The day I arrived, I was received by house owners and a group of charming and beautiful little girls dressed in white, they sang me some beautiful melodies, it was so very lovely and heart breaking. At the end of my stay I had to give a little present to each of the little girls, at that moment I had to promise them all that I will come back, and try my best to do something else for them.

Their most important problem is that this group of houses is out in the countryside far way from anywhere, and the have no meeting place nor where to do any community activities. It’s obvious that they desperately need a community centre; I certainly will try my best to achieve this for them.

Above all I must thank the members of the Lions Club of Embilipitiya, with out there incredible help and dedication it would have been impossible to do everything I did. They have been with me all the time, taking me back and forth, translating everything the home owners where telling me, and above all there friendship, it was a really great experience to have met with such devoted Lions.

Also one must recognise the great work and dedication of the Lions of Sri Lanka at the whole, they have done an incredible job. I must mention the fantastic help I received from PID Chuck Wijenathen and PCC Upali S Samarasinghe as coordinators nominated by our Association, and also mi good friend PDG Rohantha De Fonseka, that has been so very helpful.

Looking forward to see you soon in the near future, here in Sunny Southern Spain, or in any of the International events of our beloved Association.

Luis Domínguez
Past Council Chairman MD 116 Spain
C/ Málaga, 2
29650 Mijas (Málaga) Spain

Sent on the 02/01/ 2008