THE IMPACT OF WATER OR NO WATER
By Anny van Orsouw
During this workvisit, Chaminda and Jan are accompanied by Anny van Orsouw and Wilma Vos. Soon the focus was on (too) much water when the trip started. The weather gods took care of a 4-day rainshower. The consequence was many homeless, missing and dead people. During our trip to the inlands we were confronted with flooded roads and houses. Support is offered by the government but especially people find support among themselves here. In mountainous areas you can see several landslides. Because of the familiarity with it, most inhabitants are evacuated in time. Their lives are saved but the harvest of herbs can’t be saved anymore.
No water is the other side of this report. We visit 3 schools in an area of ricefields in the neighbourhood of Polonnaruwa. The facilities are ready and schools have invited us to take part in the ceremony of using the facilities. Travellers from Holland: Lieke, Harmke, and Ad joined us. They look forward to see the work of the foundation and they are more than welcome to take a look at our work.
Just imagine; a dry area, a school often at a big distance, no public transport and no water in the school! There always was a warm and often emotional welcome! One english teacher assured me that the next project would be a “Green and Clean Environment”. Motivation is already there!
Deep in the vast teaplantations we visit a school with a water problem, partly caused by monkeys. The implemention of the facilities does not meet the necessary standards because there is just not enough knowledge. At night they destroy the facilities above the ground. The school wants a sustainable, constructive and structural solution to their problem. It is already clear that the school will get help but the first step is to make agreements about maintenance and willingness to help out.
We have an unannounced visit of the project of a home for mentally handicapped boys. Almost 10 years ago a stonemachine was installed by our foundation. (look at “finished projects”2006). Still it is in usuage at another location for making stones, It takes care of a nice daytime activity for the boys.
Also the sisters of the Holy Cross proudly present their well kept well (2006).
While travelling to new projects we pay some visits alike. Quite seldom a project is being neglected. The visit consist of much talking, negociating and calculating, We meet school principles, priests, ministers, county officials, labourers, mayors, clerks, and many children. A big network of involved participants. Collaboration from both sides is very much appreciated.
When administration is done, there is some time left for relaxation. At home in Negombo we have a very pleasant stay at Chaminda’s home. Chaminda, our project supervisor, his wife Nilu, son Mark and daughter Kaylie. Mark loves to play with a ball. Kylie loves to watch a video on You Tube from “Ho Gaana Pokune” (“we are coming”) and sings it right out from her heart. Children in this video have never seen the sea and the maiden arranges that they now can go. Symbol for many children in the hinterland of Sri Lanka.
During the last week Chaminda and Jan visit 6 new projects in the tea plantations, south of Kandy. They all have a problem with drinking water, insufficient or a total lack of water, like you can see in this movie. The poor Tamil population lives in this hinterland. Far from the passing throughways used by tourists.
Wild Geese, represented by Heleen Reedijk and Sylvia Ortega, are in the country to see their financed projects of all NGO’s. They also visit 3 of our projects and they are really happy with our results. Their last days in Sri Lanka they spend on attending a workshop for NGO’s. Chaminda and Gayan, project supervisor and project participant also participate. When they come home they have enthusiastic ideas about colloboration with local organisations and the government and sustainable projects. Here in Holland I follow stories about the projects but to see it myself again creates a whirlpool of thoughts and feelings. Why are people so happy with clean drinking water or a toilet? The context in which this happens, speaks for itself. It still is not common to worry about first needs in life. Let alone that people worry about pollution or the likes on facebook. Especially the big discrepancies with our culture and available income makes us think.
In general children show great shyness. Will they be able to develop their talents? The poorest people live in the rice- and tea areas. Children go to school and will live their lives at the same spot. The outside world is strange to them and therefore they will not develop that much. This also has come tot he attention of the government and they created a special education programme for children who score above average. They get the chance to continue their studies, inside and outside their own region. Mostly there are no suitable study opportunities inside their own region. In this way one hopes to lift up the poorest region to more prosperity.
It gives me a positive feeling to make a small contribution in this development, by giving, among other things, health-care lessons. How good it would be if nutrition and food issues also would be part of their education. Often it seems now that the pattern of nutrition seems to be the take-away meals. It is cheaper than fresh and healthy food. The price level of vegetables are often the same as in Holland while our income is 10 times higher. Where does the ball start rolling? When will it be affordable for everyone? Lower and middle classes are growing further apart if they don’t get the attention which is so needed!
Most people have little money to spend but it is also lovely to see how content one can be. Luxury is in small things like meeting other people or walking in the May procession and pray together. Not to be forgotten a small watertap in front of their houses, so that they don’t have to walk to the waterpump anymore.
We carry on: “Safe drinkingwater at every school!”