Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tharindu a river journey Yathree in action

Tharindu, one of the Sri Lankan youths that participated in the river journey last year, has been enthuastically inititating environment projects within his community. On day two of my time in Sri Lanka, Wednesday 4th July, Tharindu had organised three awareness raising presentation to take place at schools in his local area. Kanchana, Sameera a young university student who is getting training at ECO-V office, and I travelled the distance to present on climate change and sustainability in a more remote area of Sri Lanka.
The three schools were situated in Ruwanwella area, two of which were Sinhalese and one Tamil school ensuring that the message and knowlegde had a large and varied audience. Each presentation lasted an hour and a half and I was amazed with the undivided attention Kanchana was receiving from the students. At one of the schools the presentation for the older students was done in the main hall during a time that other students were on lunch break. To my surprise the young students snuck in, choosing to listen to Kanchana over enjoying their lunch. The student’s willingness to listen, absorb information and learn about new subjects I believe marks a fine character in Sri Lankans that I have witnessed during my stay here. Within one day this awareness program reached over 450 school students and many teachers. 
While this presentation was happening we also conducted a survey to get a picture of the knowledge and prior awareness of these topics that these students held. The results highlighted the lack of information provided around sustainability and climate change, illustrating the need for further awareness raising in all areas of Sri Lanka. Education and awareness is one of the first and most important steps to social change. This was also a very important networking opportunity by building relationships with different schools and communities around Sri Lanka.
Tharindu addressing gathering at his own school, with the presence of school principle 
After these presentations took place we had an appointment a local politician to talk about the projects that have been happening and to organise a date for a tree planting to happen in the area. These plantings will help the environments resistance towards the impacts of climate change while also reducing CO2 emissions. During this meeting the politician received us well marking the bridges that are slowly being formed between social issues and politicians in Sri Lanka.

Youths like Tharindu are inititating these grassroot events that are creating positive impacts while also encouraging movement towards a greener future. Eventually it would be the aim of ECO-V and Journeys for Climate Justice to provide these youths with enough support, information and training that they feel comfortable enough to do these presentations and meetings themselves. ECO-V and Journeys for Climate Justice is providing continual contact with these youth to enable their development and empower change within them so that they are able to create further change in their community.
children  of Rajasinghe Central College at mini exhibition on Climate change

Gathering at Rajasinghe Central College, Ruwanwella

Gathering at Tamil School in Ruwanwella
This campaign is called "My Future My Country" which has initiated by ECO-V to create awareness on Climate Change at Grass Root levels tafter Kelani Nadee Yathra and it is sponsored by Deutche Bank of Sri Lanka.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A visit to an Organic Farm

I would like to well come Karina Donkers from Australia. She is the 7th volunteer we had for this year from overseas and the 3rd volunteer from Journeys for Climate Justice (JCJ). Just like any other volunteer we invited her to write few blogs for us. Here she wrote..

Sri Lanka is a beautiful and magical place yet has to face the confronting challenges of a changing climate. I have started my month of working as a Journeys for Climate Justice volunteer and am blessed with the opportunity to work along side Kanchana, president of ECO-V and renowned conservationist.  On my first morning in Sri Lanka we set out to visit an organic farm in a nearby area. Trudy and Sion (friends of Kanchana) who are willing to settle down in Sri lanka after so many year working in Burma also joined with us. We had been invited to see the progress of the farm, to share knowledge and network with the workers there. Amongst the workers was a man named Sampath, who had been working in environment and organic farming in Sri Lanka for 18 years and had produced 11 books about organic farming. Both kanchana and Sampath were UNDP/GEF small grant winners for their projects few years ago. This small group of workers had only had this plot of land for seven months and had already created an amazing sustainable food source, which was producing delicious and healthy food, some of which we took home with us.
Thushara, Sion, Trudy, Karina and Kanchana walking to the farm

Sampath explaining about his organic farm

Sampath raised the concern of not being able to find heritage seeds of certain plants as they were not readily available as hybrid seeds had taken over in the area. Sourcing these seeds is important and also raises the need for a seed bank. Eventually this organic farm hopes to expand the availability of hertiage seeds so that they are available for the entire community.   

During this visit we established a partnership with Sampath where their organic farm will be used as a place to run workshops and teach Sri Lankan youth about organic farming. These skills and knowledge need to be passed on to younger generations so that they are practiced. Through these workshops youth will be able to grasp the importance of this way of farming and share their knowledge with their local and wider communities.  On a grassroots level an important part of building resilience to climate change in communities is sharing skills and knowledge.These workshops will not only build their knowledge and skills but hopefully empower them to become young leaders in this time of transition.