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They Came, They Bungled, They Left (Opinion)

Aug 12, 2010 4:03:51 AM - thesundayleader.lk

And now we have to clean up their mess…

When Americans decide to be charitable, it’s much like Odie wanting to play with an M&M dispenser. It’s all seemingly harmless, but when vacuous minds come in possession of… well,  just about anything; the results are catastrophic!

I discovered how Odie-like American are, when I was sent off to Trinco to write about the USS Pearl Harbor (LSD- 52) that docked at the Trinco harbour to carry out some charity work. Packed with US military of about 450 Marines and 350 sailors, the monster of a ship was also transporting several humvees, tanks and other gigantic war vehicles.

The 800 US troops were dispatched around Trinco on July 14 to help improve the war affected area. On their 3 day charity stint in Sri Lanka, they worked on 3 projects which involved a school and an orphanage in Trinco, and a hospital in Mutur.

Heading over the school on a sweltering morning in Trinco, I wasn’t really sure as to what to expect. Though I figured it should be something interesting. So you can understand why I was slightly nonplussed when I saw the American military painting the school!

US soldier engrossed in painting a see-saw

Now, Sri Lanka might be a developing country but manpower is not something that’s in dearth here. What we could use is resources. But hey, last least they meant well, right? Except… I think their well meant effort was more destructive than helpful.

This was apparent with their bizarre idea of turning the  school’s recreation room into a computer room. Now a computer room would be brilliant as it would help improve computer literacy in the area. Only, it turned out they had no intention of actually providing the school with…wait for it… computers!

Yeah, shifting a few tables around, calling the class a ‘computer room’ and leaving… might have been their idea of building up hope for the children for when they finally do receive computers; whenever that might be.

The children of Trinco who now have, what Americans call, a ‘computer room’

The orphanage wasn’t any different. They painted the building bright orange, fixed a few shower heads and moved some logs. Thankfully, they didn’t deprive the orphans of a recreation area by turning it into a “computer room”.

Of course nothing was more destructive than them giving the student of the school a tour of the USS Pearl Harbour. Taking the kids around the warship, showing them how to use the machine guns, allowing them to handle to weapons and getting them excited about the tanks, wouldn’t be the most advisable thing to do. Especially considering all these kids have known in their young lives is war.

Students climbing into a tank

What really struck me as how obscenely stupid Americans are, is what a female Naval officer asked the children at the end of the tour.

Turning to a group of 14 year old girls, she asked “So what do you want to do now?”. The girls excitedly responded that they wanted to see more of the machine guns.

Naval officer replies “Yeah! We love guns, don’t we?”

And the girls chorus “YEAH!” and eagerly trail after her.

Syndicated with permission from The Puppeteer