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BANKOK, Thailand – Ranjith Hettiarachchi, CEO of the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU) counts himself among the fortunate survivors of the tsunami disaster that devastated Thailand and nearby countries and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. Hettiarachchi was preparing to visit his doctor when the tsunami stuck. The wave came within a kilometer of his home. His doctor lived on the coastline and Hettiarachchi says he’s still missing. Hettiarachchi told Credit Union Times he had to put aside his personal feelings to work on the greater problems stemming from the natural disaster. Fortunately none of the ACCU staff was hurt. However, ACCU serves members in many of the devastated areas, and Hettiarachchi immediately went to Sri Lanka to begin work. Hettairachchi says although he has not yet been contacted by the World Council of Credit Unions he has sent them a letter. He is also appealing to the credit unions in the United States and around the world for help. ACCU is not working with immediate disaster relief, which includes needs of food, water, and housing, but is more concerned with the rehabilitation of credit unions in the near future when financial resources will be needed by people to rebuild. At press time Hettairachchi did not have immediate statistics of the number of credit unions that were destroyed, but the death count is still mounting. Dealing with people comes first, he said. Then other needs can be assessed. Once that step is completed then ACCU will know what exactly is needed to rebuild credit unions in Asia. -

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