Paddling in the right direction…

tsunami wall decorations

…a surf trip to a country struggling through the aftermath of tsunamic devestation whilst in the grip of civil war certainly leaves you with some intense and varied emotional responses – the most potent being at the epicenter of destruction on the east coast at Arugam Bay. At times the despair and futility of life there could be overwhelming but then miraculously overshadowed by the genuine joy and laughter of the local children playing innocently in the water that swept away lives that they will only ever know about through story telling from the survivors.

The world was told that this country had been rebuilt and that the millions of dollars that left the western world found it’s rightful place sheltering and feeding families but we saw little evidence of that – a half built housing complex with a billboard thanking ‘Oprah’ or dozens of unused fishing boats. It seems a lot of good things were started with the best of intentions but many projects still remain unfinished…

What we did find were a few good people taking small but vital steps towards rebuilding a forgotten corner of the planet. One being Tim from Paddle 4 relief – a Devon surfer that has made Sri Lanka his home. Disgusted by the horrendous mishandling of funds he started his own charity – organising sponsored paddling events and small gigs in the UK to raise cash that would go directly to the people that needed it. A new pre-school has been built, water supplies cleaned and roofs mended. A plea in the West country for used surfboards produced the start of the Arugam Bay surf club and swimming school.

tim getting to the point

Of course it’s not all about saving lives and digging wells – Tim still finds time to drop in on a few mates at the point every day getting his 9′ 6″ nicely slotted into the face of one of the best rights in the Bay of Bengal…

I didn’t surf today but I did sneak a few off the locals at Abay a couple of weeks ago.

Walling, peeling, walling, peeling, walling, peeling, hmmm…..


  1. I’m convinced that small, very personal charitable works are much more efficient than the large ‘catch all’ ones. Hurrah for Tim – and he’s finding time to have some fun as well.

  2. As a long term expat living in Arugam Bay (since 1977) I can endorse the good work Tim is doing locally!
    If we had 5 or 6 more individuals like Tim:
    A lot, lot more would have been achieved by now – 3+ years thereafter.
    The BIG organizations managed to your precious donations – mainly on themselves, their own job security and elaborate lifestyle, Jeeps, travel, PR exercises, etc.
    The local Tamils don’t call them “NGO’s” but “ENJOY’s” – which is quite fitting, as they truly enjoy their cushy stay in the sun in SL.
    I suggest never to donate anything to large organizations, but support small, devoted guys like Tim!
    Fred & Family
    SVH Team
    & Arugam Hotel Association
    Arugam Bay

  3. Oooh, I felt waves of nostalgia when I looked at Tim’s site today. I miss some of the strangest things about Arugam Bay … including breakfast with Ram. xxx

  4. Hey Fred, glad you could pop by. I hope all is good and you have a few more visitors right now. Say hi to your lovely family x

    Tango(grr) – ginger beer on the roof, Fred’s pants, Rams banana toast, monkeys and backgammon and the way Mutant folded my underwear….
    (miss you most xxx)

    Dad – just don’t. You’ll only get confused. Again.

  5. when working in vietnam I found it very hard to use a donation I took with me in the way that I wanted which was to pay for dental work for all the kids at the orphanage – their teeth were in appalling condition. everyone who was supposed to ‘help’ me achieve this aim wanted at the very least a percentage cut, though they would have preferred me to hand over the entire wad of cash.

    I’m not saying they wanted to rip me off, it’s just an accepted way of life to skim a little off every transaction. it certainly opened my eyes to the difficulties of ensuring money is well spent.

  6. Fred! I hope the SVH team are well, I’m sure the manageress is keeping everyone in check …

    Seeing A-Bay and hearing your stories opened our eyes and ears to the ENJOYS and the shameful waste. Tim’s work is a refreshing breath of optimism, hope you see him again soon!

  7. I know Tim is extremely grateful for the very kind comments and support from his team in Braunton, and the British and International Surfing Community, but not least the community of ABay, who are his passion. He knows the before and after of the tsunami in ABay. May he be fortunate to carry on the work he is so passionate about.
    I’m not sure his ‘work is a refreshing breath of optimism’ or just stubborn bloody mindedness! or maybe, the finger to the ENJOYS!

  8. Nursie – it’s amazing how many friendly and helpful people there are in the world when you have your wallet open…

    Ms Bravo – I was going to say that the world needed more Tims in the world but then there would be no waves left for anybody else. What a quandry…
    (PS – grrr xxx)

    Mr Tooth – nice of you to swing by. Good to hear that you are heading back out there – say hi to all at Siam View for us. Oh and don’t forget to pack some dog repellent spray…

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