from LCSC family have ties to tsunami
By JOSEPH MAYTON
FOR THE TRIBUNE
Two men from southern Asia with
Lewis-Clark State College connections are safe
following the tsunami that hit the region two weeks
ago, but friends and family had some anxious days of
Ali Fares Mohamed, 19, of Maldives is a freshman
attending LCSC on a tennis scholarship. He is the
first Maldivian to attend an American university on
a sports scholarship.
His native Maldives, a group of 1,100 islands in
the Indian Ocean, was right in the path of the
Marshall Arputharaj was in Malaysia when the
tsunami struck. He graduated from LCSC four years
ago with a degree in communication arts.
Arputharaj works as a video productions editor in
Singapore, but his friend, Dixie Lynn of Lewiston,
knew he was in Malaysia visiting his parents for the
"It was frightening and devastating to see all
the losses on television," says Lynn, who graduated
from LCSC with Arputharaj in 2000 and now runs a
home production company.
"I am very fortunate to live in Lewiston, where
we aren't at risk from catastrophes of this kind."
But disasters like the tsunami remind Americans
that tragedies on the other side of the world can
come close to home, she says.
She waited more than a week before she got news
her friend was safe. Arputharaj's father called Jan.
3 to tell Lynn they were OK and Marshall was on his
way back to Singapore.
Mohamed was on his way to the United States the
day after Christmas, when the tsunami hit.
He was in Cyprus, in the Mediterranean, visiting
his old tennis coach and watching an English Premier
League soccer match when he flipped the channel and
discovered the news about the tsunami.
"I was very worried and immediately rushed to an
Internet cafe because I didn't know what had
happened," Mohamed says.
Later he tried to phone his family, who live in
Male, the capital of Maldives.
"I tried calling that night, but all the lines
were cut off. But I had read enough to know that the
situation in Maldives wasn't nearly as bad as other
parts of South Asia, and I stayed confident that
they were OK.
"I did get hold of them the next night to find
out they were doing OK and nobody I knew was killed
Mohamed says the large wall that surrounds the
city protected Male from greater damage. There was
flooding, but the number of deaths in Male was
According to news reports, there have been 82
deaths in Maldives, and 26 people are still missing.
"One friend, who was in an office building when
the waves began to hit, told me that she thought it
was the end of the world," Mohamed says.
"The small islands were the most affected,
because they don't have any barriers that break
waves and protect the inhabited areas.
"The thing that will really hurt Maldives is
tourism," he says of the tsunami's aftermath. "With
the destruction of many beaches and resorts, we will
lose billions of dollars."
Mohamed says his family was worrying about him
while he was worried about them.
"I was heading to the States for the first time,
and that was the cause of most of their worries," he
says with a grin.
He arrived in Lewiston Sunday.
"Thankfully, all my friends are safe, says
Mohamed. "Now I can concentrate on Lewiston, LCSC
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