Carnegie Mellon University

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Grad Reflects on Tsunami Relief Effort

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Two years after the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami took more than 200,000 lives, Emily Eelman (HNZ '05) is reflecting on the time she spent in Sri Lanka helping to rebuild.

"I worked with the YMCA Service Club in Dehiwala, Sri Lanka," said Eelman, who dedicated her services through Carnegie Mellon's Technology Consulting in the Global Community program. "The club wanted to draw attention to the extensive service work that they did, particularly their tsunami relief work. My job was to help them develop a website that would achieve this goal."

Since most of the club's donations come from overseas, a website was critical both for fundraising efforts and for showing donors what their money was accomplishing. 

In the tsunami's wake, organization also became a higher priority for the club, which had previously done all record-keeping on paper.

"They needed a more effective way to track their finances and projects for their reports to the YMCA regional and international governing bodies," said Eelman. "So, I developed an Access database for them to use for all of their record-keeping needs."    

Eelman remembers the overwhelming feeling of the devastation caused by the tsunami, along with the poverty that already existed in Sri Lanka.

"I often felt that the work I was doing was completely insignificant in the face of how much there was to do," she said. "However, the sheer number of people in Sri Lanka — and all over the world — who have participated in the relief and recovery efforts makes me hopeful that peace and prosperity are truly possible."  

The Technology Consulting in the Global Community program matches Carnegie Mellon students with internship opportunities to do consulting work abroad, largely in developing countries.

Related Links: Technology Consulting in the Global Community  |  Heinz School  |  Poetry of the Tsunami