A TEACHER from Oswaldtwistle hopes to return to crisis-hit Sri Lanka to help the victims of the devastating tsunami disaster.
Elizabeth Furey, 26, spent five weeks teaching English to children as part of the Volunteers for English in Sri Lanka scheme last year.
She has been waiting with baited breath to find out if her friends over there survived the terrifying catastrophe.
Speaking from her home in Dunster Avenue, Oswaldtwistle, she said: "I have been glued to the TV since Boxing Day.
"My best friend from university was on holiday in Thailand and she e-mailed me before Christmas saying she was on the beach. I had to wait four days before she contacted me to say she was okay. It was horrible.
"My other friend from Whalley had to be airlifted from one of the islands off Thailand with her boyfriend. He had been diving and they couldn't find him for eight hours. Thankfully they are both okay."
Elizabeth was part of a 10-strong team of volunteers who worked alongside local teachers in rural schools. She continued: "We all went on holiday to Trincomalee during our stay and that is one of the worst hit areas. We had volunteers from the charity down in Mirrissa in the south and that has also been completely destroyed. It is terrible.
"All the hotels have been destroyed and the economy has been wiped out. It will take years to get it back. The locals survived off the tourists. They won't be able to cope now."
Expressing her relief that the school where she worked in Mananwatte had escaped unscathed, she commented: "I was sat there for the first few days wondering if my friends were okay. It's not a nice feeling. I would jump at the chance of going back to help. I am not a doctor, but I am sure I could help in some way. They need all the help they can get.
"I'll do whatever I can from here and, if I can get the time off, I'd like to go back. I'll see what the situation is like in a few months and may go back in the summer.
"I have e-mailed my friends to ask them what we should do. We all feel helpless. What do you say to people whose entire schools have been destroyed?"
Following her return from Asia, Elizabeth set up a penpal scheme between pupils at Darwen Vale, where she now works, and the Sri Lankan children. She added: "We will probably do something in school to raise money. All the children asked me if their penfriends are okay and I allayed their fears."