Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Sri Lanka.


Building up a community in Sri Lanka

Posted in Sri Lanka on March 1, 2018

On this February trip led by Cathy Greven, a DWC team is working in the Tangalle region of Sri Lanka with Navajeevana, our non-profit, in-country host partner. Specifically, volunteers are building a day care and bus shelter that will make a big difference to people needing Navajeevana’s services.
Sunday, February 25
We have arrived! A necessary sleep to "get human" was needed and appreciated Dinner of a Canadian invention. Pineapple and ham pizza along with a lion lager. Yummy!

Monday, February 26
Cloudy and very humid. We would find out later that the high humidity will be with us for the full trip. We meet Raelene, our a DWC contact on the ground here in Tangalle. What a gem and great resource. Our first stop is a Buddhist school. Work has been done to improve the conditions and lives of many who use the building. Work done by previous groups of Canadians. This school is home for a few very poor adults and early morning school/day care for about 30 poor children. A healthy breakfast, warm and loving environment and school for many who would not otherwise has the opportunity. Next to Canadapura. A school for children who are wards of the state. A construction project about 2/3 finished. Rooms and school for many in need. This large complex fills a great need for teens that would otherwise not have a place to stay Next. To a row of 25 homes also build by Canadians. Homes give to tsunami survivors that lost everything in 2004. Smiles and happy people are all that we saw. We did meet one woman whose husband was working on the next project. One distinct advantage of traveling to Sri Lanka this way is that we see the country from the local perspective and meet so many grateful Sri Lankans. Next to a home being build for a family in great need. About $10,000 will get this family out of a scrap wood house into something much nicer. Next to Navagevena. Tea is served upon arrival. We meet our contacts there and have a full tour. Home to our hotel.

Tuesday, February 27
We are at the work site for the appointed hour. Not all of the construction materials are there. A little time passes. Our local driver happens upon us. We see an opportunity to go into a Tangalle to buy some school supplies for the Buddist school that we toured yesterday. Their need is so great. Paper, scissors, glue sticks, coloured pencils etc. were later delivered by us to the the kids at the school. Back to Navagevena just in time for tea.
Next the construction project begins in the stifling heat. A swim in the hotel pool after the work day. Dinner that evening was at the impressive house of Raelene. We were joined by three Canadian physio students who are working at Navagevena as part of their Masters program at UBC Vancouver.
Good time had by all!

Wednesday, February, 28
Meeting at 9 at Navagevena with Geet and his team. Items discussed: Donated Canadian flags, donated glasses, Cathys eye machine, possible meeting with a local optician Susan's projects of dolls, pot holders and A Day for Girls menstrual pad project. David and Susan met with 20 or so mothers on Susan's sewing projects. Cathy hauled and poured cement for the bus shelter project. Later in the day Susan and Cathy had a spa treatment at the Navagevena spa (on site) for an innovative approach to a spa.
Typical Sri Lankan. It is announced that tomorrow is a holiday(it is a full moon) Oh well!

Thursday, March 1
The three of us stayed at the hotel and worked on our presentations to the Navagevena folks for tomorrow. Tested and worked on the eye tester, sewing projects, and our presentation style. We now realize that we need to be more Sri Lankan.

Friday, March 2
The day after the holiday. Who knows what will happen today? Good things. David worked in the heat of the day on the bus shelter, Cathy on the glasses tester, Susan on her sewing projects. Out of the blue, one of the sewing ladies produced a sewed pot holder (of her own
volition) and it was pretty darned good. What a pleasant surprise! Things are moving forward We had lunch at a local restaurant and then to Navagevena for water buffalo yogurt with treacle. Yummy!

Saturday, March 3
Day off from working in Tangalle
Our DWC contact Raelene has arranged for a driver to take us to Galle. A city that is about 100 km away (worlds away as we found out).
On a the drive we took a little side trip to a Buddhist temple. Wow. Flowers were purchased by Cathy as we exited the car. Offerings we made inside this ornate temple. One of the out buildings had an older gentleman who offered us Hindi blessings, yes Hindi.
In Matawa fabric was purchased for the projects at Navagevena. A visit to the local batik studio revealed some ornate and high quality dresses hangings etc.
We were getting hungry near Welingama. Susan's sole request to the driver was "not to hot please". Failure on his count. The curry was on fire!
As we drove thru beach city after beach city we noted the high volume of non Sri Lankan back packers, surfers and senior travelers. Tangalle is off the beaten path with very. Few foreigners
We continued on to Galle and had a great day of wandering the streets of this ancient fortress city. We were able to resist many of the well crafted jewelry pieces.
We traveled home at great speeds on a variety of road qualities. It was now nice to be back at Tangalle.

Sunday, March 4
Nail our new DWC host invited us to his house for tea.
We stopped at the local Food City to purchase a treat to enjoy during the tea. As it turns out, that was not required as Anils wife had prepared a small feast for us. Lots of pleasant conversation about our projects and Sri Lanka.
Visits like this really make you feel at home in this wonderful country. We needed some help with some more purchases for Navagevena and Anil joined us for a two hour stroll thru a myriad of shops downtown. I think we may have found what we are looking for.
Our group split up for the first time in a week. Some going to the beach, others touring the local market.
A fun day had by all!

David Bagshaw | DWC Volunteer

Tuesday March 6, 2018
The beauty of this island is everywhere I look. I am having breakfast with Susan and David looking through delicate blossoms of fuschia, hot pink, coral, lavender, softest pink and white at the energetic grey aqua waves breaking on the shore.
Each day, amongst the busy tuktuk and bus traffic that zooms by us on the road, we hear the distant sound of the little ice cream truck that plays “Fur Elise” as it goes along. Each evening a tiny bread and rolls tuktuk truck heads home past Moonstone playing ‘It’s a Small World After all”. We are going on a hunt to actually get photos of these vehicles. Stay tuned......
The bus shelter has been completed. The opening ceremony and celebration will take place on Friday, our last day.
Today we will be moving forward on a number of initiatives we have begun here. Susan hopes to take one of the disabled women sewers to a fabric store to purchase large quantities of fabric for various projects they are sewing. David continues to work with the EyeNETRA Lensometer to read the prescriptions of the many donated prescriptions we brought with us, and I am searching for helpful videos on the use of the Netropter that is less language based and more visual. The women who are interested in learning how to use the smart phone based EyeNETRA equipment have varying amounts of experience. (All have been involved in previous clinics where they assessed need and distributed thousands of pairs of reading glasses donated by DWC’s partner Clearly Contacts in Vancouver. This time we brought many hundreds of readers to augment their dwindling supplies.). Since several of them now have access to the internet, I have confidence that the lead person for the glasses clinics will be able to get updates required periodically from EyeNETRA. I also feel confident that the team will be able to watch training videos online to keep them current.
Later on today, in preparation for the meal being served tomorrow to the children, we will be rehydrating some of the Reapers of Hope Soup Mix we brought from the Christian Aid Mission in Moorefield. CAM has generously agreed to partner with Navajeevana in future, which will bring additional nutrition to the children with disabilities who attend the school here.

Cathy Greven | DWC Team Leader


What beautiful children! The children waiting for breakfast in the daycare run in the female monk’s temple. On a previous trip a large group of Janet’s TRIP volunteers rebuilt walls and rooms and replaced the roof of this building to create a new female monk’s temple as the original was destroyed during the tsunami.


The second stop on our first day tour of past projects: an orphanage for children who are wards of the state. This is the original building.


This is the new wing which has been built by TRIP volunteers over the last three years.


The library on the lower level of the building is already finished and is being used by the children.


This year’s April TRIP group will work on building a balcony wall for safety and plastering, painting and finishing the interior walls of these second-floor rooms.


A peacock living in the orphanage grounds puts on a show for us.


Another project done in the past on our tour. Immediately after the tsunami twenty-four homes were built in a community for families who had lost everything – their homes and possessions – in the disaster. A small temple and community centre were also built in this community.


This is another house in the community that owners have made improvements to.


Local workers are starting this house that TRIP volunteers in the April group will finish. The family that will receive this lost the kitchen and some outer walls of the current house due to flooding this spring.


David working with the EyeNETRA device to discover the strengths of some of the donated eyeglasses.


Cathy wheeling a load of cement to the ramp of the new Navajeevana accessible bus shelter.

More photos of progress with the bus shelter.









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