MARCH 2005 TSUNAMI NEWSLETTER
This is an almost impossible letter to write, and is not the usual chatty family or tour reporting. All our feelings, in black and white seem so cold and unemotional, so please take all that follows in both description and content as the very poor writing skills of a usually ebullient correspondent who feels totally inadequate in her reporting this time.
Roger and I arrived in Bangkok on Christmas Eve, to spend the holidays with our great friends the Heineckes, Skip and Kathleen and Skip’s brother ,Bill, wife Kathy and their son, daughter-in -law, and their lively small children, who live and work in Thailand. We spent a beautiful evening on Christmas Day, eating traditional turkey and stuffings! Almost as if we were at home, only this year it wasn’t me slaving in the kitchen - just sitting and enjoying!
Nothing could have warned us or prepared us for the catastrophic events on the following day, the horrifying 26th December, which will from this year on, to the Western world, be forever associated with the season of joy. For the millions of coastal peoples living around the Indian Ocean, even as far as Africa, it will become a day to remember as the day their world turned upside down.
Totally unaware of the events, the Heinecke men flew down to Pattaya, to do some business, and us girls did the usual bit of Retail Therapy, while Roger spent a quiet day (would you believe) reviewing his upcoming German show! The first any of us knew of the tragedy was as Kathleen and I got back to the hotel, and phones were ringing from all over. Skip calling to say that Bill and co. were flying immediately to Bill’s resort hotels as a ‘tidal wave’ had hit that area……my brother from England, frantic because I had told him we might have been at the sea immediately after the holiday! The news was drifting in from all over the Indian ocean countries, but exact details were scant as lines of communication were so disrupted.
Stunned and shocked, we gathered to talk and scan all television newscasts, but it was 24 hours before the enormity of the Tsunami even began to become clear, Bill spent the following days organising rescue and immediate aid to his people, whilst we sat and waited for updates. Our presence there would only have hindered the chaotic situation. We felt totally impotent and useless. Bill could not talk about what they had seen, and still cant.
It was decided that we should continue on our planned Thai visit, flying to a small island paradise Koh Samui on the east coast of Thailand. Beautiful, balmy, luxurious and totally unaffected by events across the other side of the country. Many friends, had joined the tourist from all over the world, and plans for the upcoming New Year’s celebrations forged ahead, but as you can imagine, apart from the innocent laughter ,squealing and chatter from small children, all adults, visitors and staff alike, were muted in their attempts to enjoy their holidays. With every personal tale told by survivors, I tried to visualise the terrible grief of parents who had lost their children, of husbands and wives, shocked beyond words, and still not knowing where their loved ones were. It was impossible.
Reports of death and damage, and rescue missions, hindered by inaccessibility to the thousands of villages through the Indian Ocean coasts, and even across to India and Africa, only led further to our
our feelings of uselessness, with every day that passed and our wishes to be able to assist in someway gave way to quite a period of deep depression as the casualty figures rose and rose, until a friend, Robert Mullis, suggested that Roger might put the tragedy into words and music, for a young Thai singer to tell the world what had just happened, and that this could be a fund-raiser for the rebuilding, and helping the thousands upon thousands of shattered lives.
Thus, “TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND SOULS” was born. Sadly we know now that this was an underestimate, and the numbers are now approaching 300,000. The true figures will never be known.
Roger decided to fly to Germany in the middle of his Irish tour and record the song himself, in English and German, and on the 21st of March, it will be released, in English, German and an orchestral version. Initially this release will be in Germany, Switzerland Austria and , hopefully, thereinafter, in many other countries. It will also be available on Amazon.com and a LINK to this will be provided for those of you who cant get it in the shops.
When Roger performed this song, live, in concerts in Ireland and Denmark it received standing ovations! So many people wanted to buy it on the spot, but of course, it takes time to manufacture and distribute but now it is nearly there.
BMG International will hope to get airplay across the world, and every time it is played, every record sold, and every computer download will generate funds for our own particular charity interest, organised by Bill Heinecke ( Chief Executive Officer of The Minor Group), MINOR Tsunami Recovery Fund initially for building of the boats lost, for the people to recover their fishing trade, so important to the coastal villages and the finding of homes, guardians, feeding, clothing and educating the orphaned and injured children.
Roger is donating all his artist and publishing royalties and we are now active in seeking other artists, in other countries, and other languages to cover this song, and for them to choose their own charities of all the countries so devastated by these events. Although many Governments have now closed their books, you can find endless registered charities who will continue to seek money for this enormous rebuilding task, throughout South Asia ,which it is anticipated could take 5 to 10 years to complete. Search for your choice on Tsunami Charities Worldwide on the Internet, and you will find organisations from all over the globe, all religions, and any information you want.
So get on your computers and let your local radio and TV know what is going on, and get them to play it. We have friends on the web in 120 countries so we can really get some action going.
The sad, but realistic, view that so much of the money never reaches its true destination, led us to the decision to join in on a ‘hands on’ organisation, very personal! Kathy Heinecke has already managed to find the guardians for the children, and 5 of the 200 boats that were destroyed, are on their way. Small steps, but each step is one forward, and of enormous help. She is organising a special web site to keep everybody informed of developments, with photos and details of the recovery for Phuket, Mai Kao and Khao Lak areas. As soon as we have the site address, I will do another POP UP on the welcome page of Roger’s site.
We will be going back next November to see the results of all the efforts, and meet the people, with Kathy, who is bi-lingual, to act as our guide in assisting further.
In buying the record, you will be contributing, but if there is any way you can raise other funds for Minor groups (details at the end of this letter) OR other charities to help all South Asian countries, India and Somalia etc. charities will be received with huge thanks from the people affected. There are nearly 1,000,000 people still homeless, traumatised, injured, hungry and thirsty.
Thanks for the hundreds of volunteers from so many countries, who have gone all over the Tsunami effected countries, clearing and rebuilding homes and businesses, providing medical help, and showing how much the world cares.
Already the world is forgetting, until the next time, which unfortunately, like the flooding and mudslides in South America, the earthquake in Iran recently, bring home to us just how lucky we are and how many people need our help daily.
We will never forget . Thank you all. A proper newsletter will be coming to you in a few weeks, but this was so important I thought you would understand. I hope so.
All our love, Natalie and Roger
The Official Roger Whittaker
© copyright 2005
Tembo Productions North America, Inc.