be back says Sting’s Trudie
By Feizal Samath
What struck UNICEF goodwill ambassador Trudie Styler,
wife of British pop star Sting during a visit to relief camps and
schools in the southern town of Hambantota last week was the determination
and resilience of the children and people of Sri Lanka.
was amazed by their stories," Trudie said in a telephone interview
with The Sunday Times on Thursday afternoon from the Colombo airport
as she and her famous pop-musician husband were going back home.
UNICEF ambassador since 2004, Trudie, Sting and two of their four
children were in Sri Lanka for nearly two weeks, holidaying at exclusive
southern resorts like The Galle Fort Hotel and Taprobane Island,
owned by British businessman Geoffrey Dobbs.
the holiday was more out of a desire to help Sri Lanka after the
tsunami with tourism being the worst hit industry after a string
of hotels were destroyed and devastated by the tidal waves. Tourist
arrivals also fell to a trickle in the immediate aftermath but have
been picking up in recent weeks.
schools in Hambantota and Galle, Trudie, 52, says she was moved
to tears by the stories related by children and others affected.
"These were heart-breaking stories," she said, emphasizing
however that she was even more amazed at the Sri Lankan resilience
and spirit and was moved by it.
told me how it (tsunami) happened and how their lives were devastated
but also spoke of how life must go on," she said adding that,
"these (stories) are going to be an inspiration in my daily
life when I get back home." "I have so much and so much
to be grateful for - but I'll remember these faces for a long, long
said she was unaware of plans by Sting to write a song on Sri Lanka's
tsunami but said they were both keen to return to Sri Lanka. "Come
back to Sri Lanka? We would love to… and bring the rest of
our children too," she said.
from Trudie and Sting's support for Sri Lanka's tsunami victims,
one of their sons, a university student, is arriving here next week
to work for two months as a volunteer.
who shares her husband's concern for the environment, which led
to the creation of the Rainforest Foundation in the 1980s along
with a Brazilian Indian to help save rainforests, was instrumental
in ensuring that Sri Lanka - through UNICEF - gets half the money
raised at a post-tsunami fund raiser concert by Sting in Australia.
said that at her request, 500,000 Australian dollars from that concert
- half the proceeds -- was allocated for UNICEF projects in Sri
Lanka. "We wanted to do something for Sri Lanka."
UNICEF official, who accompanied Trudie on her field visits to Galle
and Hambantota on Monday and Tuesday, said they are in the process
of working out ways of using this generous contribution. "Trudie
plans to raise more money for Sri Lanka when she returns home,"
the official said.
Sri Lankan holiday and visits to schools like Zahira and St. Mary's
in Hambantota would probably leave a long-term, indelible impression
not only on Trudie but also their nine-year-old son, Giacomo who
separately visited children at a Buddhist temple in Galle.
loved every minute of it … playing with the kids, chatting,
laughing. One of the most wonderful things about children is that
they click together in whatever circumstances, whoever they are
… there is some kind of bond."
Sunday Times had been tracking the couple since Tuesday, February
15, after learning that they had arrived on a SriLankan Airlines
flight, initially for a holiday followed by Trudie's visit to camps
as a UNICEF ambassador. Their 14-year-old daughter Coco made up
paper's effort to also interview 54-year-old Sting, whose real name
is Gordon Sumner, didn't materialize due to problems with the phone
lines from Weligama where they were staying on Wednesday.
the brief 10-minute conversation over the phone, Trudie repeatedly
referred to the extraordinary impression she got about the people
of Sri Lanka and the unity that came with the tsunami. "There
were all these people - Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus all
together ... I found a strong sense of unity, much stronger than
I had expected."
was not only children who moved the celebrity couple but also others
affected by the tsunami, so much so that Trudie and Sting plan to
be involved in some micro projects initiated by Dobbs, who is heavily
involved in post-tsunami relief efforts in the south.
went to the fishing yard, saw boats being rebuilt and heard the
tragic stories of fishermen and the wives and children they lost.
We also visited a project where women make rope from coconut fibre,"
whether Sting would like to perform in Sri Lanka, Trudie said the
pop icon was scheduled to perform here but local organizers called
it off due to logistic problems. "There were some issues on