Asha Ramachandran is a lawyer in Philadelphia and a new mother. Balan Balasingham is an engineer in South Brunswick, N.J., with three kids.
Both are 40-year-old Tamils, an ethnic group from Sri Lanka, an island off the tip of India formerly called Ceylon. And both plan to attend a rally today in Washington, D.C., organized by a group called Tamils Against Genocide.
They plan to go to the White House and the State Department, calling on the U.S. to press for an end to warfare between the Sri Lankan army and rebels known as the Tamil Tigers.
Independent information on the fighting is not available because the government has barred journalists and most aid workers - and reportedly even food shipments and some doctors - from the war zone.
But critics have accused the Sri Lankan government, run by the majority Sinhalese, of indiscriminate bombing that recently has killed as many as 2,000 Tamil civilians in its decades-old fight against the rebels.
The violence began after the ruling British left the nation in 1948.
Ramachandran said she and her husband and five other local Tamils hope to attend the rally along with hundreds from Canada.
Ramachandran, who came to Philadelphia in 2000 and is now a U.S. citizen, said she would like to return to Sri Lanka but sees no future there for her 16-month-old daughter.
Balasingham said he was going to Washington because "I saw what's happening in Sri Lanka, that people are being bombed, kids' heads blown off, their hands and legs.
"I saw in media online . . . a school bus being bombed by the government," he said.
"I thought about my kids. When I leave them to go to school, I expect them to be coming back in the same bus. I enjoy that freedom here.
"And I thought about the parents" of the children on the Sri Lankan school bus, "and I thought, we've got to do something to stop this madness."