WHEN the tsunami struck Asia in December 2004, the Sri Lankan community was among many devastated by the floods.
The plight of the many thousands affected by the disaster moved a Woodford Green student to such an extent that she has now volunteered to spend eight weeks helping to rebuild the community.
Eleanor Lear is part of a group of 15 Durham University student volunteers who are helping with the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the area, as part of the large British Council and Higher Education Funding Council for England-supported Project Sri Lanka.
The 21-year-old, who has just arrived in the south of Sri Lanka, will now take part in a wide range of educational, sporting and cultural activities to give much-needed help to the Sri Lankan people.
Eleanor, who reads history at Durham, said: "I am really happy to have the opportunity to help rebuild the country after the tsunami.
"I have worked with children previously and it was such a rewarding experience that I'm looking forward to have the chance to do so again."
Along with the other students, she will be working in a pre-school at Palana West which has been built and equipped from funds raised by these students and the Durham University Charities Kommittee (DUCK) over the last six months.
They will also help to teach fellow students at the University of Ruhuna at the heart of the tsunami-devastated southern province, and in a school at Moraketiara, which is being funded by Alnwick Council, Rotarians and other North East regional sponsors.
The project aims to provide financial aid for education, physical structures and equipment, emotional and spiritual support, and intellectual and academic support.
Project leader Professor Joy Palmer-Cooper praised the students for the hard work in fundraising and other preparations for their visit.
She said: "It was essential that the students were personally involved and they have been there from the start, at the heart of the project.
"We are making real links and thanks to their efforts, ideas and enthusiasm, we are building something to last."
To find out more about Project Sri Lanka, go to www.dur.ac.uk/project.sriklanka/