Friday, May 19, 2017

Becoming Eco centric from Ego Centric thinking and Zero waste generator to minimize your impact on Mother Nature ....

We at ECO-V gained the recognition as a group who has been involved in sustainable waste Management and  a group who "walk the talk". The main reason was that media highlighted our zero waste practice soon after collapsing of garbage mountain at Meethotamulla area that has been maintained by the Colombo Municipal Council. This incident killed 30 more people on the 14th of April 2017 when the whole Nation was celebrating traditional New year. The whole country was shocked and almost everybody in the country started discussing about the negative impact of human being on Nature (of course some started blaming government as usual) . Since BBC Sinhala channel did a news clip on Kanchana's zero waste practice for last 16 years, many understood that its the best practical solution that an individual could maintain. This news clip went on viral on face book and it has over 655,000 views and more than 27,000 shares.

Following this news clip many TV, News Paper and social media groups contacted her and invited for more dialogues, discussions and made inspirational stories around her and ECO-V. Not only that Kanchana was invited for different forums, policy change platforms and seminars for sharing her experience and idea. Therefore we as an organisation following our co principals and values which are well connected with Mother nature received a great recognition this year more than last for 16 years,

ECO-V was preaching about eliminating Ego centric  practices and becoming Eco centric person 

Kanchana was invited for a two and half hours of live discussion at one of the leading TV channels to share all these concepts and her practices.

Another TV channel had a long story of her practices during prime time news.

One of the very popular celebrity and animal rights activist did series of video clips for her social media page which has over 1,080,000 followers. These were in Sinhala and English medium. Many people have followed and positively commented on the information that we shared. (15 minute discussion on 10R) (short introduction for wormy compost and wormy wash) (how to make compost from kitchen waste)

Now we are involved in spreading our positive messages in sustainability and Environmental Conservation in whatever the way we could. We encourage every single person to try their best to manage their own waste, by following 10R

With all these exiting events taking place ECO-V team was intensively involved in conducting usual awareness programmes and maintaining other actives in the office. I forgot to mention or write any blog about us moving to a new office premises in January 2017. We love our new home and will tell you more about that soon.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mihimadale Hithethiyo 2017

Mihimadale Hithethiyo 2017” was a 2 day residential Youth Camp which focused on “Climate Change and Green Leadership” conducted by ECO-V. This was held on 6th and 7th of May at Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning, Bandaragama with 25 participants.  Majority of the participants were youth who were trained during past few years with Youth Yathra programs (Training youth Green Leaders who take actions to adopt and mitigate climate change) and others were few of Leo club members of Piliyandala, Few of the youth joined through Face book notifications we posted. This youth force who were from Southern, Western, Sabaragamuwa and Northern provinces took part in this camp and gained environmental and spiritual experience.

Language barrier was the major challenge for us because 7 of participants came from Mannar and Jaffna. Most of them were speaking neither English nor Sinhala and unfortunately none of us could speak Tamil. But fortunately Newton from Jaffna (very active youth from our previous 6 yathras) who speaks good Sinhala, was with us as the translator. The camp was started at 9.00 am on the 6th. After the breakfast youth did “ice breaker” activity which helped to be a good messenger and then they introduced themselves with each other.

After that youth got the opportunity to listen to a renowned environmental activist and a lawyer Mr. Jagath Gunawardhana on “Environmental Law & Public Responsibilities” and “Invasive Alien Species”. 

In addition, there was an exhibition set up as part of the training which conducted by Waruni, Lakmini and Chapa.

In the evening youth got an opportunity to do a fun game called “untie the puzzle” which helped to develop listing skills, following instructions and thinking pattern. Apart from they discussed about “EGO centric and ECO centric living” with Mrs. Kanchana in the evening.

One of most interesting hour of the day was the presentation and discussion on “Sustainable living and individual waste management” presented by Mrs. Kanchana before the dinner. 

On the second day morning all got together at sharp 5.45 am and had a delicious glass of Kolakenda (herbal porridge). Youth were very lucky to spend adorable morning with gaining spiritual consolation. They listened to bird singing and morning wind. They touched dew on grasses and did environmental meditation. They talked with trees and gave their compliment for everything which trees have done for us. They did “surya namaskaraya” (Sun salutation) with bathing morning sunshine. And finally they meditated with a musical instruments called whirlys’. It was a really inspiring and amazing morning for youth with unforgettable experience.

Early morning discussion on Mother Nature 

Meditating with whirlys

Environmental meditation

Talking with trees

Sun salutation
After the breakfast youth got ready to have a nature walk. While walking under flora awning, they learnt about trees, herbs, butterflies, bees, birds and environment. This was all about connecting with Mother Nature and understanding, learning and experiencing her through five sensory organs. In addition to that, they got an opportunity to voyage in traditional, zero emission, environmental friendly “palam paruwa” (floating and self-dragging boat) across the Bolgoda River.

Nature Walk

Bird watching

Plant Identification 

Green Garden Lizard (Calotes Calotes)
Common mime pupa

I’m sure that youth will able to think about Mother Nature in different ways after this amazing event. They will never spit on mother earth, or break a single leaf unnecessarily. They will give their compliment for oxygen which is given by trees. When they have a bath they will be thankful for every drop of water. Obviously they will be Nature lovers – Mihimadale Hithathiyo!!! 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Two more youth yathras for 2016

After the Yarl yathra I could not write any blogs as its simply I was flooded with two more yathras, one training of Trainers session and a 3-day public exhibition and two International trips. So by the time we finish all these activities it was end of December and making final reports and getting ready for coming year with submitting proposals made me very busy. Anyway now its 2017 and before I write anything else I thought writing few lines about two other youth yathras we held in 2016.
So both Yathra mentioned below are under the financial support of US Embassy and last two yathras for youth yathra 2016 programme in creating Green leaders for combating Climate change. 

Senkadagala yathra was our second youth yathra and it was held at Kandy. About 35 youth from in and around Kandy were trained under youth yathra programme we had and it was their final public campaign. It consisted with 1 short exhibition to educate public, door to door awareness campaign and a short training on organic farming.  
Senkadagala yathra team

Ruhunu Yathra was the 3rd and last youth yathra which was held based in Matara but it was practically taking place in Matara, Katharagama, and Tangalle. It was full of fun and with new experience for all yathrees who participated representing North, Central and South along with some previous yathrees from 2011 to 2015. All of us were lucky enough to get the help from Sri Lanka Navy, (Just like the help we got from Sri Lanka Army in North) and had a memorable yathra along the coast from Tangalle to Dondra. It was the longest ever sea travel for participants on Navy boats and witnessed the pollution taking place in the ocean by non-bio-degradable plastic and polythene. All youth cleaned most of the pollutants collected at harbors without any hesitation but it was not enough and all determined to take further action to stop such pollution taking place. 
Youth at Hambantota town on public awareness 

on the boat with Navy officers
whole team who participated at yathra

Early morning meditation

On last day of Ruhunu Yathra

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Yarl Yathra – the first Youth Yathra 2016 for creating Green Leaders to combat climate change...

I have described what "Youth Yathra" is in my previous blog. This is about first Youth Yathra named "Yarl Yathra 2016".

It was unfortunate that I could not write a blog for the month of September. It was mainly due to the physical weakness in my right hand which was identified as Tennis Elbow (inflammation of the tendons of the elbow (epicondylitis) caused by overuse of the muscles of the forearm) Well…I am still having the issue but how can I stay without overusing the right arm :) 

I decided to write about the Yarl Yathra before its too late as it was  our first Yathra and the 3rd Yathra for this year  is happening this week. So I am well behind the schedule.

Yarl Yathra was held on 5th, 6th of August 2016 in Jaffna city in the Northern province  with the participation of 47 youth. 25 of them went with us from Colombo and the rest were trained youth from Jaffna. They were trained as Green Leaders who can be ambassadors for combatting climate change and think about sustainability. Though we can train in many numbers we never believe that they all will come up to the level we expect but our intention is at least some of them will be there. The initial name list from Jaffna participants was over 55 and we had to stop them applying for the training. But it was fluctuating and some days we got only 12 trainees and we had to try different ways to bring them back. The main challenge was the language barrier. Most of them were not speaking English so the bridging language was not useful at all. We had to rely on the coordinator of American corner,Sinthuka who went abroad for studies , was working for a NGO. She was the official translator throughout the whole  programme.  None of others could communicate in English effectively but we used body language a lot and we were successful up to a certain stage in day to  day communication but not in teaching or training component. Then everything was translated from Tamil to English and vis a versa which resulted in huge communication gaps most of the time. Anyway, we manage to train 22 youth from Jaffna though our target was 40.

The first day early morning 25 youth from Colombo, who were members of past yathras (Kelani Nadee Yathra, Paapedi, Kolamba Yathra) arrived in Jaffna by night mail train. It was very nice to meet to some of them even after 5 years since our first yathra along the river who are still active in the environmental conservation field. We all had traditional Jaffna/Hindu breakfast at a local restaurant. After that youth from South went to see Jaffna city as for many of them it was the first visit to Jaffna. Remember most of these youth are below 30 years old so obviously could not visit Jaffna due to the 30 years conflict we had in the past.  So it was a great opportunity for them. The official Yarl Yathra started at 2pm at American Corner in Jaffna where Jaffna youth were waiting to welcome all of us from South and South Yathrees were waiting to see their first ever (for most of them) Jaffna friends.

Southern Yathrees meet Northern Yathrees 

Arrival of information officer Mr. Joshua Shen
The information officer from US Embassy Mr. Joshua Shen and Ms. Sharmini Sinnaiha also came as invited guests. After an ice breaking session, team was divided into 5 groups and went for different directions to collect polythene along streets. Within one hour all teams collected so many bags of polythene and then they sorted them out for recycling. Only plastic bags with dirt were selected and washed and hang them for drying.

off to collect polythene from garbage dumps

Sorting out polythene

Gayan - a yathree from Paapedi 2013 shows washed polythene
The second day morning all got together to cook Pongal (the traditional rice with milk, mung beans and sugar). After eating pongal for breakfast all cleaned rest of polythene. Again half of the team went to Jaffna city for hanging notice board with messages of protecting trees and their importance.

Protecting trees....
Rest of the team stayed at American corner and got ready for public exhibition. After lunch all got together conducted public exhibition where I saw some emerging leaders.
Part of the public who came to see the exhibition 
It was very satisfying to see around 10 youngsters were taking the leadership roles and following instructions of the training using training skills. After lunch they all got into their teams again. Empty plastic bottles were given to all teams and were asked to make their own eco brick using the washed and dried polythene they collected on the previous day. It was very nice to see Tamil/Sinhala/Hindu/Buddhists/Muslims/Christians all of them making eco bricks together. These eco bricks will be used to make a garden bench at American corner.

All yathrees from South and North making Eco Bricks

Then it was the time for award ceremony. Joshua Shen  and Sharmini joined with us again after their meetings and Sinthuka, Newton, Priyangi , Sharuka and few others conducted the award ceremony showing their leadership skills.  

It was the end of Yarl Yathra and by 6 pm the team from south rushed back to their accommodation packed and got into the bus provide by Sri Lanka Army. The youth from South were ready for their next event to complete the Nature exploration of Jaffna Peninsula on bikes. Only Newton from Yarl Yathrees join with us for the second part and all of us were transferred into the Army camp at Kankasanthurei which is one of the Northern tips of Sri Lanka.  
Dhanushka, Chaturanga, Newton, Gayani with 2 new yathrees

Next  day we rode from Kankasanthurei (KKS) to Point Pedro (PP) was a life time experience as it was hot sun and over 4 hours riding push bikes with the people even who could not ride a bike (thanks to past Yathrees who were so nice to ride the bike with a friend on the back of the bike). Therefore we did not leave any youth behind and all got the same experience. 
Sri Lanka Army they provided us with food, drinks and even escorted us to show us the route. The morning snack was ready at another Army Camp in Velvetithurei, who welcome us very warmly and admired our effort in training Green leaders. After another 2 hours we were on the Northern tip of Sri Lanka – Point Pedro. That was very exciting as we have never been there in our entire lives.

Point Pedro (says now where you are) on the Map of Sro Lanka
Whole team who participated in bicycle journey at Point Pedro

The lunch was ready by 1pm at the PPD Army Camp and wow…it was so nice to have live music and fresh juice when we arrived there. The next challenge was riding back to KKS to catch the night train back to Colombo. All of us were so exhausted and no energy to ride back. Million time thanks to Col. Herath of Point Pedro Army Camp, just one request the bus was there for all of us to go back. Wow what a relief…… It was just fantastic communication by the time when we came back to KKS all arrangements were ready for us to take a sea bath, even the dinner packets. Youth enjoyed the sea and got dressed, collected their dinner packets and jumped into the train just on time.  Major Lakmal and Col.  Mayasinghe were there to say Good Bye to them and I had to stay one more day to conduct an awareness session for Sri Lanka Army Camp Palali as a way of thanking them for the great help they offered to us.

Kanchana delivering a lecture at Army camp and part of the crowd

I got up really happy next day morning at KKS for few reasons, one was obviously Yarla Yathra was over which means 10 months of our commitment for Jaffna youth came into an end. Its up to them if they want to continue the mission to protect their environment. We gave the knowledge and training and if they want to continue then we will be still there for them. The other reason was I just got up in Northern Sri Lanka safely which was a dream for us 7 years before. No bombs, no shelling, but just the peace….Now we enjoy the peace and we all are sharing everything together. What a blessing!!! Thanks to all who sacrificed  their lives for this peace. Some of the youth who were branded as terrorists are with us working together to protect Mother Nature. Our wonderful Yathree, Islayan Newton who joined with us in 2011 as a LTTE ex-combatant actively working with us now and has become a Green Leader. I teach environment in Northern Sri Lanka which was a dream for me 7 years ago. What else I  want!!!!!
My favorite picture - spirit of Yathra -  Newton (Tamil) Gayan (Sinhala Buddhist) Nifras (Muslim) but there is no difference in that smile....

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Youth Yathra –Green leaders to combat Climate Change

What is Youth Yathra 2016?
Youth Yathra 2016 is a programmewhich focuses on “Creating Green Youth Leaders” who will be change makers in action against climate change. This is a programme initiated by Eco Friendly Volunteers(ECO-V)under a grant received from American Embassy Sri Lanka. A 10 month training session each in Jaffna, Kandy, Matara districts were conducted as the first stage of the project.ECO-V invited more than over 120 youth (Yathrees)with the support of American Corners at each district and conducted  a series of workshops for giving them the relevant knowledge and information about their environment and how to protect it by combatting Climate change during the 10 months. The themes discussed in the sessions focused on healthy food, conscious consumerism, organic farming, connecting with nature, effective communication and its relationship with climate change. These trained youthYathrees are expected to be the Green Leaders as well as messengers for their localities in the future leading the climate actions. This will be launched as a “YATHRA” in the final stage.

Why Youth Yathra?
Now the programme has come to its final stage and the Yathrees in three districts are ready to pass the information to the general public as YATHRAS. Trained youth are ready to conduct 3 Yathres in Jaffna, Matara and Kandy starting from August. The first Yathra is YalrYathra which will take place in Jaffna on 5th and 6th of August 2016. As a condition of the programme there was no financial allocation for public campaigning for two reasons. One is that the Yathrees should learn to raise funds locally and second is to encourage the public - private partnership in combatting climate change and protecting Nature. It was expected that this project to  be a great opportunity for all the people who are interested in protecting Mother Nature to partner to serve and protect her.
Yarl Yathra 2016

The YarlYathra is the first Youth Yathra organized by the trained youth in Jaffna under Youth Yartha 2016.

How do we do Yarl Yathra?

YarlYathra is a 2 day environmental campaign planned in Jaffna city. All the youth who were trained during past 10 months within Jaffna will be joining with 25 youth from Southern Sri Lanka. These Southern Sri Lankan youth will be either past Yathreesof ECO-V or under current youth Yathraprogramme in Kandy and Matara.It will be held on 05thand 06thof August 2016. All the youth will meet in Jaffna on the 5th afternoon and will join for a street cleaning campaign. This will be a learning experience rather than a cleaning campaign for them to understand human impact on Mother Nature. All youth from South and North will take part in this event. There will be a gathering in the evening at American corner in Jaffna to share all their experiences.
The next day (6th August) will be started with preparing breakfast in Jaffna style and through this event all youth will exchange the healthy food culture, practices and synergies while they make their breakfast. Then the team will be walking around Jaffna city in creating awareness on protecting Mother Nature and will return for a public exhibition organized at American corner, Jaffna. The theme of the Exhibition is “Combat Climate change as Green Leaders”. This exhibition is open for public. The day two will be over with as award ceremony for YarlYathrees. Official invitees for these events will be representatives from US Embassy Sri Lanka.

Eco Friendly Volunteers (ECO-V)
ECO-V ( is an Environmental Organization working in Sri Lanka for last 15 years. We are a team specialized in scientific research on Animals and plants and conducting training on environmental conservation related topics. We have been working in Sri Lanka for last 15 years under the topics of climate change, Green leadership, Solid waste Management, Eco friendly Lifestyle, food safety, conscious consumerism and Bio diversity conservation.  We conducted research on Spot winged Thrush, Purple faced leaf langur, Eurasian Otters and Peak Wilderness Sanctuary. The Yathra as a new method of training Green leaders to combat Climate Change was introduced by ECO-V in 2011 with the partnership of Journeys for Climate Justice (JCJ) in Australia which is a partner organization of ECO-V. We have conducted 3 Yathres since 2001 namely, KelaniNadeeYathra( 2011 - Papedi( 2013 - and KolombaYathra (2015 All the projects are mentioned in our blog site.

Project funded by American Embassy of Sri Lanka