Private sector firms recover after numb week
Most companies have got back to normal business after a week of virtual numbness following the tsunami devastation that rocked the country on Boxing Day.

After a week of anxiety, searching for missing relatives and friends and not being able to resort to normal work as they shared the grief of the nation in the week to January 1, most office workers got back to a normal routine last week.

"The first week was terrible when you see those images on television being repeated throughout. It was difficult to work with all the grief around. But last week we got back to the normal routine," said an executive of a trading company. Private firms were also heavily involved in the relief effort, deploying staff and material to affected areas.

Yet despite the sombre atmosphere, private sector firms, advertising agencies and PR companies sent out the usual Christmas and New Year greeting cards to clients including the media wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

One company, Cameron, Pale & Medina, however in addition to sending these cards, added a commendable note which said: "Let us bow our heads in silent prayer for those who have lost their loved ones and possessions in our nation's worst natural disaster."

In the immediate aftermath of the crisis, companies didn't give too much priority to advertising goods and products and few advertisements reached newspapers. Many felt that it was too soon to be selling products to the consumers in the midst of the crisis.

Malik Fernando, Director, MJF Group said that the company was very fortunate not to be affected directly but that some staff members had lost relatives. He said that despite the losses the human spirit was very much alive in the workplace and also the country.

"The staff are in an upbeat mood and there is more unity among the staff than usual. Everyone is putting aside differences that would normally exist," he said. He added that there was a significant amount of motivation in the company and that everyone was helping out with the relief efforts.

Big plans are underway at Ceylon Biscuits Ltd where a rehabilitation unit is to be set up. Work had already started on this project and plans were being made to take over certain affected areas and gather a cluster of families.

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