Toured downtown Kandy - second largest city in Sri Lanka.
Visited tea plantation - one of the oldest in Sri Lanka. Learned a ton about how tea is made! Did our final debrief over some tea. Very meaningful time of reflections, prayer and thanksgiving.
6 November 2016
Selena's husband is the manager at a resort, so we were able to stay there for one evening.
5 November 2016
More educational lectures from Selena!
Girl in red dress is Sumitra. Jacinta met her two years ago. Sumitra was raped when she was 10 by nearby fishermen. Her mother brought her to fishermen so she could get some money. WC found this out and reported the mother who then was so ashamed that she took off and left her 4 children with their grandmother who is blind. So powerful for Sumitra to see Jacinta again and know she hadn't been forgotten. Very touching reunion.
Even though Sumitra is safe now, when you look at her, she still has a very sorrowful face. She's getting some counseling from a WC staff.
Her story was so heartbreaking for me especially as I think about my own daughters who are basically her age.
Visited a remote village where the lowest cast people (the untouchables) live. They are the outcasts. Everyone hates them and won't let them go near their houses, churches, farms, etc. They are also undocumented, so can't access government resources either. In this particular village, some of the women have chosen to go into sex work because they have no other way to support their families (no husbands around). They live in huts - no electricity, no water, far away from food, and land was not fit for growing crops (because near beach so mostly sand).
Then WC started working with them two years ago. Provided a well, farm animals, education for kids, social workers, etc. They advocated for them to get gov paperwork. Now two years later, they finally got their paper work from gov and they are in process of getting relocated in a better place.
Had lunch at WC office...
We also visited a youth career development event. 15-16 year old kids. Objective is to help encourage them to think about careers and see possibilities. Very fun to hear them and meet them.
Started the day at a milk collection station. This is where farmers drop off their milk and get paid. The milk is then taken to the chilling station.
4 November 2016
In the same building, a kids group was also taking place (actually the women's group hosts this kids group). We found out that this little girl had a birthday, so we put our flower garlands on her and sang happy birthday. She was elated !
This is a self-led women's group. They meet every week so encourage each other, cooperate on projects, and save money together. We prayed with them and encouraged them in their work to improve the lives of their families.
Met this 23yo dairy farmer. His family lost everything in the war. Because of this his father was too depressed to work, so at 19, he took over as head of household, providing for this parents, 4 younger sisters and some extended family. He is very joyful and excited about he future. With his six cows, currently earns about $500 a month. We prayed for him and his family.
Selena showed us the future site of the new WC offices. It will also be a model farm where the dairy farmers can be taught and see how things work.
Lovely lunch at a local outdoor restaurant. Traditional Sri Lankan meal (rice, curries, lentils, etc) eaten without utensils.
Impromptu lecture by Selena!
Visited an organic farm -- a project to help make nutritious food more readily available to the villages. The farm uses sound agro science to maximize crops and produce affordable food. People can come work as well to gain some income.
We travelled all over the country with this bus. It was spacious enough so we caught stretch out, have meetings and discussions, sing songs of praise, hear impromptu lectures by Selena, etc.
3 November 2016
We then visited one of the 71 "kids clubs" WC runs throughout the north. These clubs are volunteer-led and aimed to empower kids and prevent child trafficking. One of the things they are taught are the basic rights of children - safety, development, etc. The kids were very excited to see us! They introduced themselves, sang, and wanted to take lots of pictures. Most of these kids come from families who've lost loved ones in the war. They were displaced and have recently come back to this area to start rebuilding their lives. Many of the families are headed up by the dairy farmers.
Visited a farmer and his family. He is one of the small dairy farmers and is part of the dairy cooperative. We got to hear his story of how WC has helped him build up is farm and dairy business. He and his wife invited us to sit down for some tea. We offered to pray for him and his farm, and he gladly accepted.
Selena, the country director, went with us everywhere we went. She was our host and translator. She also told us all about each of the programs so that we truly understood the problem, the objectives and our strategy. We also had some time to get to know her story. She is a Tamil (the ethnic minority in Sri Lanka). Her family lost everything during the civil war a few years ago (during which thousands of Tamils were killed and many more displaced), so she has a personal connection to her work with this people. Throughout the years, she has built a lot of trust with the government and military, even though she is a three-point minority - Tamil, female, Christian. Much of the WC work could not be done without her! She has a heart for Sri Lanka and esp Tamils and is very dedicated.
Visited the World Concern office in Mullaitivvu. This is the staff that carries out the work in the north among the Tamils.
Finally arrived! First stop was a milk chilling station built by WC. as part of establishing the Dairy Farmers Cooperative in the region. Purpose is to teach, support, empower small dairy farmers. Help them grow and adopt modern milking processes. Help them build a cooperative of farmers that they themselves govern and sustain. This chilling station building was opened just last month. It's where milk from nearby farmers (part of the cooperative) will be analyzed and stored before it is sent to processing plants. They welcomed us with a traditional Tamil ceremony where they put colorful powder on our foreheads. They also offered us fresh hot milk. Delicious! And then took us on a tool of the choking station and all the modern equipment -- something these people had never had before. Tearfund New Zealand (Christian org) provided $5 million dollars over the last several years. So it has been a great help in setting up the cooperative.
Got up at 4am to take a 7hr bus ride to the north. Lots of beautiful views a long the way. So many cows on the road. I was sure we would hit one at some point! Also little monkeys here and there. Many Buddhist and Muslim temples. And also Catholic Churches. As we drove further north, we could tell the locations became less developed- more rural.
2 November 2016
WC staff took us around the city to show us Colombo. WC doesn't do much work here, but needs to be located in capital because of all the dealings with the government and military. Most of WC work is in the North where there's a concentration of the Tamils - the ethnic minorities.
Visited the WC office in Colombo and met the local staff - all Sri Lankan's. got a briefing from WC head of country, Selena. Amazing woman with an incredible story of salvation and Gods vision for her life. In one of the pictures, you'll see World Concern's mission statement: "World Concern partners..."
31 October 2016
Left for Sri Lanka with the World Concern team. Leading us was WC president, Jacinta and her assistant Beth. Board member, Sarah and donor, Mindy joined our traveling group from Seattle. And we met board member, Frank and Florence there in Sri Lanka.