- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

PHUKET, Thailand — Maryland student Alyson Spery has been so busy helping in rescue efforts after the tsunami last week that she didn’t get around to calling her own family until yesterday.

“I just called my mother for the first time to advise her that I’m safe and sound,” said Miss Spery, 20, of Salisbury, Md. “I’ve been e-mailing, but then I realized that being away from home, they would probably like to hear my voice.”

Miss Spery was on a beach that escaped the fury of the tsunami last Sunday, but she rushed to help with the relief effort as soon as she learned what had happened.

“I’ve just got off of a boat that was near Phi Phi [island], and I was with a bunch of Thais. We were cooking food for the military that’s taken over Phi Phi and doing a lot of work there, bringing bodies out every day,” Miss Spery said yesterday in Phuket.

“They brought us onto the island the first day, when it was completely inappropriate that we were there.

“It’s really a dangerous place. No one is using protection — nothing for their mouths, nothing for their hands. And, meanwhile, they’re eating where dead bodies have been, and it’s absolute chaos,” she said.

She said she came to Phuket to help in spite of her concerns about the boat ride down the coast. “I mean, this is the Andaman Sea, which had once betrayed. I spent the past two nights on the boat, cooking food.”

On the telephone yesterday, Miss Spery tried to calm her mother’s fears.

“She flipped out knowing that I had been on a boat and that I’m traveling alone at this point, because my friends wanted to go back to Bangkok, and I wanted to come here,” she said. “Now she’s concerned about what flight number I’m returning on and what schedule.”

Miss Spery said she would fly home Friday to attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, where she is majoring in public policy and hoping to go to law school and become a judge.

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