Recently in Sri Lanka Category
A recent 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka ravaged the nation's people, leaving 22% of families without income and 38% of youth without schools. The war also resulted in substantial destruction to coastal swamps and the native mangrove ecosystems. But a new exhibit organized by our affiliate, Seacology UK, showcases the natural beauty of this struggling country--as well as the great fortitude of its people.
Seacology has a commitment to stand by our island projects when disasters such as the major tsunami hit the Indian Ocean in December 2004. Thanks to generous donations to Seacology's Tsunami Relief Fund of 2005 Seacology was able to provide relief projects to communities where Seacology had a presence before the event. These projects were intended to complement larger relief organization efforts in affected areas by providing to community members long-term relief in terms of restoring damaged village homes and community centers, or by providing materials and supplies communities said they needed most in order to regain traditional livelihood practices.
One of the updates we received this past week was from Seacology's long time friend and contact, Mr. Anuradha Wickramasinghe, Director of the Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka (SFFL). When the 2004 tsunami swept across this area of Sri Lanka, Seacology responded to SFFL with three projects to help community members recover from such a devastating trauma to their lives and community. Seacology repaired the damaged Seacology-funded SFFL Mangrove Resource Center, rebuilt a destroyed fishers' community center and provided sustainable fishing canoes and fishing gear to 88 families in the region, and replaced 15 lost fishing boats for a sustainable fishing cooperative in the area. This last project was just completed in mid-2007 and now each boat is owned and run by three family members who each provide food and income to an average five-member household (above right).
One of Ellen's recent blog entries, containing a photo of a Balinese dancer that hangs in our office, inspired me to photograph more of our incredible office artwork to share. I decided to start with the masks (my favorites), which have hung in a spot advantageous for me to view ever since I started working for Seacology - both at our old office and at the new.
This mask is a traditional Kolam (folk theatre) mask from Sri Lanka. Seacology's work in Sri Lanka has focused on conserving and protecting mangrove forests. We have helped fund the construction of a mangrove resource center, including a store selling local handicrafts to help provide a livelihood for young women, and have helped to plant thousands of mangrove seedlings around Kiralakele, in the Hambantota district of southern Sri Lanka.