Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our final destination – where the river meets the sea!

Our good friend Jim Crosthwaite arrived yesterday, and will be travelling with us for the remainder of the Journey. Jim is the president and co-founder of Journeys for Climate Justice, and we thank him kindly for his generosity, support and determination to help this  Journey come to fruition.
We begun our last day in the field with a fascinating tour of the ancient Hanwella Fort, a strategic militiary post which has fallen into the hands of many nations over its prolonged history.
We returned to our base at the Education Centre to hear that the Minister of Environment and several other provincial MPs would be joining us to discuss the outcome of the Journey! The Minister has been a great supporter of the Journey from the start, and he was particularly impressed with the success this innovative project has achieved, including its strong partnership with the Australian charity organisation Journeys for Climate Justice, of which Jim and I were present. National media groups also came along to capture our story and report the success of the Journey!
We then took a step outside, and the Minister and his fellow MPs donned a Kelani Nadee Yatra cap and got straight into some tree planting (see photo below)!
We stopped off for another awareness campaign through the town of Hanwella, before travelling onwards to the banks of the Kelani river in the heart of Colombo. We crossed the river by a hand-pulled barge, before testing the water quality and getting our hands dirty cleaning up rubbish on the banks of this beautiful river.
We then paid a visit to the beautiful Kelani temple, a site visited by the Buddha thousands of years ago. The Kelani temple is a very sacred site for buddhists, with thousands of people coming daily to pray, give offerings and marvel at the sheer beauty of the complex.
Sadly, the time had come to move along to our last stop in the field, where the Kelani River meets the ocean. It has been a magical experience to follow this mighty river from its source in the mountains, to its end-point hundreds of kilometres away in the urban coastal environment of Colombo.
Tonight we are staying at the headquarters of Sarvodaya (the largest social NGO in Sri Lanka) just south of Colombo. We are all reminiscing on this experience of a lifetime, and are looking forward to our final training day tommorow.

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