The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Putting her life back together

After the tsunami, Eranthie sees opportunities to help the poorest people

In the wake of a major natural disaster that catapulted her into the media spotlight, Eranthie Mendis, 23, today is putting her life back together with the help of family, friends and faith.

Mendis and her mother, Tamara, 55, were visiting family and friends in Sri Lanka the day after Christmas, taking a train along the island's southwestern coast when the great tsunami hit. A 30-foot wall of water — as tall as a three-story building — toppled and submerged the train. Eranthie survived. Her mother did not. (February, page 35.)

In the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe, Eranthie was interviewed for print, radio and television. Like it or not, she had become a public figure.

Her father, Eardley Mendis, pastor of Purna Jiwan South Asian Ministry, part of Norwood Park Lutheran Church, Chicago, and two brothers, Aranga, 27, and Amal, 21, flew to Sri Lanka for a Dec. 30 funeral service for her mother in Moratuwa.

Shortly thereafter, the Mendis family returned home to Chicago's Hyde Park community and began to pick up the threads of their lives.

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February issue


Embracing diversity