Monday, August 29, 2011

Farewell to our Yathrees and the Journey of a Lifetime…

Yesterday was our last day of this Journey for Climate Justice. We didn’t stop smiling and laughing for a second,  but in the back of our minds there was also great sadness that this experience of our lifetime was about to come to an end.
We made our way to the stunning International Training Centre of Vishua Niketan, where we were to complete our final day of training. Jim Crosthwaite kicked off the session leading us in an informative discussion of Climate Change. I then took the chance to give a presentation of the results of our water quality study of the Kelani River, and discuss some key issues and potential solutions. We then gave the Yathrees the chance to formally evaluate their trip, which they have described as “life-changing”, and “the best experience of our lives”! We interviewed each of the Yathrees separately, asking them to reflect on their Journey.
After a presentation by Kanchana on Sustainable Development we split the group up to discuss conservation projects that they are interested in implementing after the Journey, and any challenges or uncertainties that they expecting to face. We were very impressed at the ambitious but achievable projects that were proposed, including a nation-wide plastic-free campaign (including introducing home-made reusable cloth shopping bags), construction of an eco-friendly village, introduction of eco-friendly education programs in rehabilitation programs and in Universities, and many more.

After a final workshop on the Eco-Handprint concept, and many tips for ‘greening’ one’s lifestyle, we begun creating our ‘mural of healing hands’. The idea is that by using our handprint (as opposed to our footprint) we can compensate for the damage that we are doing for the environment, and make the world a better place for all Living Beings. The Yathrees made a pledge to protect Mother Nature, before planting a personalised painted handprint on the mural. This was a beautiful way to end our training session.
We returned back to Savodaya for an evening of celebration, singing, speeches and dramas. This cultural celebration was truly a night to remember, and was a great lighthearted note to end the trip on.

We said many sad goodbyes to our great friends and companions this morning, who will be travelling back to their homes, but will be joining us again for the final ceremony on the 15th, which should be an incredible event, look forward to keeping you posted!

Thank you so much to all who have sponsored and supported us on this Journey, we will never forget your kindness. You have helped us to run a program not only to change the lives of these Yathrees, but one that will have ripple effects throughout Sri Lankan and International communities.

For a better environment – Pat

P.S. there will be much more to come! Keep watching this blog for updates on the final ceremony, the much anticipated documentary, and updates on the Yathrees activities in their own conservation projects

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