Tribune News Service
London, November 24
Last years tsunami continues to bring a seemingly disjointed world together for the sake of its survivors. It has inspired a unique effort - one that does not seek to raise funds by appealing to people but seeks to bring them closer to the reality of those who survived natures fury.
It then inspires them to engage in the humanitarian task of reviving shattered lives - this time of children left high and dry on bruised coastlines across the world.
The effort centres round an unusual book conceived by a British-Indian who could no longer face the personal sense of guilt and powerlessness he felt. Anuj Goyal, former director of BBCs famous childrens programme Blue Peter and now a childrens author decided to inspire the worlds best childrens disaster relief charities to come together and ensure a long-term reconstruction of the lives of the tsunami survivors.
He got aid workers from UNICEF, SOS Children, Handicap International, Save the Children and Y Care to travel to the villages in India, Indonesia, Maldives, Thailand, Somalia and Sri Lanka and hunt for child survivors. He then got 16 of the worlds finest childrens authors to recount powerful tales of fear and survival, as narrated to eight aid workers by children who battled the tsunami and managed to escape it.
Over the past few months, the book titled Higher Ground has been selling phenomenally and is helping voluntary organisations get on with relief operations across affected landscapes. The first print order of 15,000 has been sold off, while the second special tsunami anniversary edition of the book is about to hit the racks. This one will be accompanied by a recorded version of the book in the shape of a CD that features readings of selected stories by world acclaimed artistes like Sean Bean, Dawn French, Stephen Fry, Van Klimer, Meera Syal and Jamie Theakston.
As for the book, it has been published by Chrysalis Childrens Books, UK, and features the maximum narratives four from India. While two of these are from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the other two are from the villages of Tamil Nadu.
A major launch of the book took place in the famous Warburg Gallery on October 6. The day further saw the opening of an exhibition of paintings sent in by a group of children who survived the tsunami in Sri Lanka. The exhibition is the result of efforts made by UK-based businessman Esmor Davies who is running two special schools in Sri Lanka for children who survived the tsunami.
The paintings (some of which are now adorning the prestigious Queens Robing Room in House of Lords) will be auctioned in March next year. Anuj Goyal is happy with the way these two events have unfolded. These events are uniquely designed, he says. Their objective is not just raising charity but helping the world know what happened on the shores of various countries that day, how these children fought an unrelenting nature and how barriers of caste and creed fell to pieces in the horrifying moments when death stared people in the face, he added.