Saturday, February 2, 2008

Visit to Udawalawa

After a month I was able to make another field visit to Udawalawa where we are conducting our Pelican conservation project. This was the first visit for year 2008 and the one after I went there with Claire in December 2007. The recent incidents in Monaragala district (Udawalawa belongs to Monaragala) including the claymore mine explosion and killing of another 10 innocent farmers in the area had a great impact on lives of people at Udawalawa too and we could not proceed with our planned activities for January. I really wanted to go there although my colleague Harsha who is stationed at Udawalwa did not want me to visit them before. However I was determined to see the entire team and communities involved in our project. I was so happy to see them and also did able to buy some of the products (eco friendly bags, baskets) they were supposed to make for our project. My payment for their products made a little difference as they are facing many financial problems these days due to collapsed economy of the area due to reduced tourist arrivals. Many community members are depending on tourism and fishing but both activities are temporality stopped due to the prevailing security condition of the area. However we did not able to do our usual community activities for the project area, but I was relieved to visit them and talk at least for few minutes as I know it made them happy. We hope that the condition may improve soon and we would able to function normally in the area to continue the Pelican Conservation project which was funded by UNDP Small grant programme and Whitley Fund for Nature.

We sent 62 school packs this week to school children in Kebithigollawa (North Central Province) with the financial support of our volunteers and well-wishers. Kebithigollawa is the area where we started our Pelican project and also is the area for our Natural Springs Conservation project. Unfortunately we had to terminate our activities from that area soon after the claymore mine killed 70 villagers who were travelling by the bus in 2006. We were shocked as we were conducting the research and awareness activities in the same village at that time and 7 family members of one of our volunteers killed by the incident. After that we were advised not to continue the environmental activities in the same forests where terrorists trespass and obviously people had to struggle for living rather than protecting nature. We have been helping many community members in this area since we started our projects in the area in 2003. Therefore we received many requests for community welfare and we were able to help them with constructing toilets, drinking water wells, three libraries and granting scholarships for school and university students. All these projects were coordinated and supervised by Sri Lanka Army officers who helped us to continue the research work in the area. This time also the request for school bags and books for 62 deserving students came from the school principles and Army officers. Army officers take over the delivery of the items and usually they send us a report and photographs when the items were handed over to schools.
Some of the money for buying the books this year came from selling the greeting cards and bags to some of my friends in UK and we were able to collect 20,000 rupees from well-wishers and friends of ECO-V members. I should specially thank Chaminda Jayaratne as he motivated most of his friends to contibute to this worthy cause. Sarvodaya-Suwasetha also donated some books and clothes for this project. I thank all the generous people and who buy our products enabling us to do many projects. It’s your contribution that made a difference in a life of remote village child.


1 comment:

david santos said...

Good posting, Kanchana, thank you.
have a good day