SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Ravi and Selina Koil were in Toronto when the attacks happened in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
They heard the news not from their family, but from fellow Mainers who reached out as soon as it happened. The Koils moved to South Portland from Atlanta six months ago.
"I heard my phone beeping -- and these are friends from our church here in South Portland," Ravi said.
The couple turned on the news and watched the devastation unfold.
They were able to get in contact with their extended family, some of whom live mere miles from the city center.
Thankfully, they are all okay.
"We are obviously very devastated and distressed for the motherland…that’s the motherland. We are Americans, very proud Americans -- this is our country, but that’s the motherland where we grew up, and we had such great times there."
Ravi and Selina worry that people will stop coming to Sri Lanka out of fear of future attacks. It’s a mentality, they say, that would crush the country’s economy.
"It’s going to be devastating for tourism because Sri Lanka depends a lot on tourism. People go there for diving, foodies go there. There are jungles, wildlife. And it’s got such ancient cultures," Koil said.
However, both remain optimistic that the country will recover and heal.
"Sri Lanka has gone through this before, but not to this extent. So I think the first step is to rebuild and get back to normal life," said Selina.