What a day! After arriving to Anuradhapura by train on a 200km ride yesterday, we began today at 5:30am with an early morning stretching and breathing activity by Nanda Kumara, a long time ECO-V volunteer and certified physical education teacher. We learned the importance of being able to control our breathing, for as we age our lung capacity goes down. And if we do not learn to manage it now, our quality of life would most likely go down as well.
Then we grabbed our bags, and jumped right onto our bicycles for the first time. We rode a short distance towards Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred temple and location of the tree with a written record as being the oldest planted by a human being. We were greeted by one of our sponsors, managing director of Singer Sri Lanka, Dhammika Wijesundara who had come all the way from Colombo to wish us good luck. He had a few words of encouragement and shared a few thoughts about the importance of this ride and its symbolism for the future environmental health of Sri Lanka.
We were then supported and escorted by the officers from the Police Station in Anuradhapura and the Sri Lanka army to our next three destinations, 2 major bus stop locations and a hospital in this ancient city. Our participants completed their first challenge the evening before and developed a street theatre performance, which tried to educate and entertain the public regarding mother earth, sustainability, and human impacts and solutions to preserving our environment. These performances, similar to a flash mob, attracted 40-80 public members each.
In the evening, we were visited by Ruwan Weerasooriya from the Air Resource Management Center, who gave our yathris a lectured power point presentation on air pollution. Some of the items we went over were point and line source pollution, emissions history and science, green house gases and its relationship to climate change – all specific to Sri Lanka. All of us learned about the increase of our human ecological footprint and how that has impacted the environment and the health of people.
Our night concluded with a bike and cycling troubleshoot and education lead by Sion Zivetz, Nanda, and one of our participants Sujitha Ramanathan, who translated the workshop for our Tamil language speakers.
- “This journey is a very new experience as an environmental journey. In the next 10 days I look forward to informing a lot of people, along the way to Colombo, about pollution and human duties to stop pollution. I also want to say it has been an interesting experience working and learning with international volunteers.” - Sahan Amalka Jayakody, participant from Kadawatha in the Gampha district in Sri Lanka