In order to bring more awareness to some of the people, especially children that suffered permanent injury, and are currently in need of various types of assistance (financial or other), we paid a visit to some of the homes of those victims from Katuwapitiya. Walking through St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, it is unthinkable how someone could simply walk into such a peaceful place of worship and destroy the lives of so many innocent people, who were giving praise to their God. An individual (who wished to remain anonymous) explained to us what happened that tragic morning. He said that he was sitting towards the end of the pews and had his eyes closed in prayer when suddenly, there was a huge noise and a blinding light, and for a moment he lost consciousness. When he came to his senses all he could see was injured people, and he claimed that he couldn’t hear anything until a few hours had passed. He said it was a miracle that he survived with only a minor injury to his head and legs, but couldn’t imagine how someone could be so cruel.
We first visited the house of 12 year old Sneha Mindani Appuhamy, a kind and carefree little girl, who is an avid lover of animals and excelled in her studies. Sneha and her 5 year old brother Ramesh had been just outside the window of the church at the time of the attack. Sneha had received the brunt of the attack after two metal bearings penetrated her head and the impact flew her back a few metres. Her brother, who was also hurtled back by the impact, managed to get up, and unable to find his sister, rushed back home to tell his parents what happened. As fate would have had it, her father Don Milroy Appuhami and his wife had been delayed to go for mass, and just as they were about to leave, their son came running back with the news of the bomb. Feverish with anxiety, both parents had rushed to the church to find their daughter but had been unable to do so in the midst of the commotion. Milroy described the horror of seeing hundreds of people bleeding and some even missing their limbs and said it was just too horrific for the mind to bear. Moments later they had received a call from a relative at the Negombo hospital notifying them that their daughter was at the hospital but severely injured. Milroy praised both the Negombo hospital staff and the Colombo hospital, to which she was later transferred, saying that without the help of the doctors their little girl would not have survived. However they are in dire need of financial assistance to get the required medication and do an operation as Sneha’s injuries are quite severe.
The next family we visited was that of 16 year old Senuri Sewwandi. Due to face her GCE OL examination this year, she had been determined to get good results and make her parents proud. One metal bearing in the brain, one in her chest and two in her leg caused her to be admitted to the hospital following the Easter Sunday attack. Her leg is broken in two places and she is unable to walk and although the doctors have taken out the two bearings in her leg, they are unable to take out the ones in her chest and head as it may pose a threat to her life. Her whole family, including her father, mother and little brother, had been inside the church at the time of the blast. All of them have sustained injuries but Senuri got the worst of it. Speaking to our team, her mother Kumari Fernando said that although with proper medication and rest the physical wounds may heal, it isn’t easy to recover from the mental trauma this devastating attack caused.
Eight and a half year old Sayuru Sathsara had been at church with his sister when the attack took place. Three bearings had penetrated his head and one his leg. We were not allowed to see him as he must be kept away from all germs due to the severity of his head injury. His father Roy Lasantha is a simple carpenter, and with having to visit the hospital twice a week for medication, is finding it difficult to cover all the necessary expenses. It truly was heartbreaking to see this boy, who once played in their garden with his siblings, now confined to a bed.
Disna, who hadn’t been too well on that fateful Sunday, had coaxed her son to go for mass. He lost his hearing in both ears and his head, ribs and legs were severely damaged. Being confined to the bed, possibly for a good part of his life, would be enough to make anyone question the existence of God, but Disna and her son remain faithful as ever, stating that God had been good to them so far and he would certainly help them through this dark time.
There are many similar stories from those homes that surround the Katuwapitiya Church; stories of heartache and pain. Children with missing limbs, families that were left incomplete in the blink of an eye - almost too horrible to even imagine. This is why it is important that we do not forget this incident. It is crucial, at this moment, that we stand united as Sri Lankans, as one family, to help those suffering rebuild their lives, and spread this message of love.
If anyone wishes to give monetary assistance to the affected families and individuals they can deposit money to the following SETH SARANA PROJECT, a/c under the Archdiocese of Colombo.
1190036535 Commercial bank Borella. Swift code CCEYLKLX.
For any other forms of assistance you can always check up with the Archdiocese or contact the Grama Sevaka in the area.