Last May accompanied by Chaminda Fernando, our project manager in Sri Lanka, Jan van der Steen has once again paid a working visit to see the projects. Below is the report from Jan.
“This time we visited Father Ajith Caritas Sole in the jungle in the north of the North Western Province. Together we were going to support some schools. In the evening we talked about the many repairs which are needed at 400 wewa’s (large ponds or lakes for catching and holding the rainwater) in this province. Also, we let us inform about the living and housing conditions of the Tamil population in the tea plantations. We spent the night at Father Ajith and the next day we visited a water well for about 15 families. In 2008 we built this well together with Caritas Sole in 2008. One family even owns five cows, underneath coconut trees with lush grass growing! They recognized Chaminda and me immediately and we were treated to hot milk with honey. All this thanks to a well that never runs dry! And to use the words of Wild Geese: “ SMALL PROJECT BIG DIFFERENCE! “
We went to the North Central Province, a desolate and arid area. The need for water and sanitation is huge in these areas.
We discovered that there are high needs for 5 schools in four provinces and did some filming over there. We will present those needs to our sponsors maybe to start off new projects in those areas.
We visited various school projects which were completed in recent years. In general, the maintenance is good, at least when water is being provided there for washing hands! Water means energy! The maintenance of the plumbing sometimes leaves much to be desired but they now have a place to defecate and girls go to school during the monthly period. The maintenance stands or falls with the motivation of the school head.
Meanwhile Hans Schraven from the company “Atlantic beds” arrived from Wijchen. Hans is an expert in solar energy. Currently, together with Hans, we launched three test stands for solar energy. Our gadget: use of a tiny powerful pump (10 Bar and appropriately installed in a PET bottle). Only 1 solar panel and a control panel that fits in a lunchbox. In short, we strive for minimal and easy maintenance!
At 1200 meters from the school , in the jungle, we placed a test setup where the well is situated. In using these materials, Hans succeeded in pumping 2000 liters of pure water per day from the well into the water tower of the school! Teachers and parents can hardly believe this. This innovation is like a miracle to them!
In between Chaminda and I had a first meeting with the Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam of Sri Lanka. We specifically have talked about the water problem in rural schools. He was interested in our activities and proposed to deepen the matter during our the next working visit. We gladly accepted his invitation!
Since last year we are working together with Fonterra, a local dairy producer. In areas where Fonterra operates we work together for rural schools. Late May, I again met with Leon Clement, manager of Fonterra Sri Lanka. He told us that he was present at the official commissioning of the water and sanitation facilities at a rural school, a project carried out by our foundation. This event had a deep impact on Leon. As a result of this Fonterra temporarily gives priority to our projects, to water and sanitation projects in schools in the areas where they work / will be going to work! Again a great result.
A confirmation that our approach and powerful method is successful, spreading like an oil stain!! A great compliment to the Sri Lanka team, led by Chaminda Fernando Pulle!
“Many times I have seen the fight for clean water, it continues to intrigue me”.