Three KUCers joined a “Developing World Connections” (DWC) excursion to Sri Lanka earlier this month, to participate in a two week work project and to celebrate ten years of the Sri Lanka-DWC relationship. For Marcia and Cam it was a return visit. For Sharon, a first trip to Sri Lanka, though not a first trip overseas to live her faith and share her humanity through DWC partnership project work.
Marcia is the team leader for this project group of 7, and she is the blogger.
“We’re here! Seven tired but totally pumped Canadians, ready to start the Tangalle-DWC project. We arrived early in the morning and what a pleasure to see our vans waiting for us! It is hard to believe that for several of us it has been 10 years since we made this trip and for three, it is a first time for setting eyes on Sri Lanka. It was 10 years, almost to the day, that six of our group first arrived in Sri Lanka – just weeks after the destruction of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.”
“The journey was a fun one of noticing new things and reminiscing about the first one. What we really noticed was the new growth and development all along the way. Where we last saw broken homes, treeless devastation, boats and trains where they shouldn’t be, this time we saw new life, and a sense that life has picked itself up and carried on.”
“Raelene, the owner of Moonstone Villas and a DWC volunteer, greeted us. We will be staying at her hotel for the duration of the trip. Wayne, DWC’s founder and former president, had just arrived in from his trip through Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka – we got settled in and had a great time chillin’ around the pool!”
“We were going to tour the DWC project sites, but got word that the project needed us! The first day was seeing the site of the project, “Navajeevana”. Navajeevana means “new life” and is a non-profit organization that provides services for people with disabilities. Its founder and Executive Director is Kumi – a lovely, energetic, passionate, and charming 75 year old who has committed her life to the work. Kumi is a dynamic woman and a strong leader in her field.”
“The project is to build an outdoor stage that will be used both by the facility for the children’s shows and also as a revenue generator for Navajaveena as they can rent the stage for community functions.”
“The work needed to start to get the cement foundations set for the rest of the masonry. We met Podi, the master mason. He is a delightful, hard working man, and we took to him immediately.”
“We also started training with the eyeglasses clinic. Cathy had arranged for 3000 readers/sunglasses mix that the BC team brought as donations from Clearly Contacts. She had also donated 100 pairs of distance eye adjusters from Eyejusters, a an amazing company that was founded to create adjustable glasses for hundreds of millions of people worldwide with poor vision. Each pair of glasses has adjustment dials that can change the prescription in an instant! Kumi had her staff attend the clinics, and the training of staff proceeded. They were thrilled!”
“We took the day to tour the DWC projects of the past 10 years.”
“The first stop was the one most important to our group as we had built the first of four houses in Ruvingama – Canada House – in 2005.”
“Ten years ago, we worked in a hot, dry, vegetation-less field.
There was no water, no shelter from the sun, and the earth was baked hard.”
Second from left: Marcia J
Third from left: Sharon R
(Guessing Cam is behind the camera lens.)
Third from the right is Wayne McRann of Kamloops, founder of Developing World Connections (DWC).
“On to Ketakalawatta to visit with Sanjeev and to see the community centre, homes
“There were three other well-cared for homes in this lush community with fruit trees and gardens growing. The families generously let us take some photos!”
“We also visited the Trades’ Training Centre which sits waiting for the right function to come along.”
“It was a great day to see so many things that we had built or contributed to.”
“We also met Sanjeev’s son who had just graduated in computer technology, thanks to support from Trip Canada and DWC.”
“The school project with TRIP Canada and DWC was next – a school that was destined not to exist without substantial renovations and now supports many local children and teachers.”
“It was a great day to see so many things that we had built or contributed to. Back to Moonstone for more pool time and R&R!”
“We continue to work on the site helping Podi with cement for the stone walls and filling the inside of the stage with fill to support the final top layer of cement. (Mid photo Sharon R.) Kumi and her staff have been fabulous and we’ve enjoyed a couple of traditional Sri Lankan lunches on Navajeevana’s breezy deck.”
“March 5th is Poya which is the monthly celebration of the full moon. It’s a national holiday and Navajaveevana is strangely quiet as the children, mothers and staff have the day off.”
“Holiday or not, no rest for Podi and his crew – or for us, however!!”
“We are anxious to get the work done and carry on with a morning of working alongside Podi and his crew. Monday is our 10th anniversary celebration and we know that there won’t be much time at the site. The children are back and are delighting us with races beside the worksite. The mothers have made us a traditional lunch.”
“The glasses and sunglasses clinics carried on each afternoon and under the watchful eyes of Cathy, John, and Sharon, the staff started taking over the responsibilities for testing and distribution of the glasses.”
“Today is the day of the 10th anniversary.”
“The plan is to have an afternoon celebration at Moonstone with local people who were involved with the various projects over the years, the blessing by the Monk, and speeches from a couple of the students, some of the community people, Wayne, Raelene and myself.”
“We continued to work in the morning when it was coolest & called it a day after a full morning. Home to change and the celebrations started!”
“We were honoured by the presence of the local Monk who came to bless the ceremony and to speak about the great work that DWC and TRIP Canada have done over the past 10 years.”
“Natasha, the first student to come to Kamloops through the Kamloops Tangalle Friendship sponsorship was the Master of Ceremonies – he did an outstanding job!”
“Today is the last day of the project and the stage is pretty well completed. Anil announced to us that the costs of construction were less than anticipated so between that and a donation from the DWC group there is enough to complete the stage with a steel roof!
The ceremony started with the boiling of the milk – a tradition that brings prosperity.
When the milk boils over it assures abundance and success on the site.
This is followed by the lighting of the oil lamps,
after which we planted two red calla lily plants, one on either side of the stage. (Here Sharon assists with the lily planting.)
Blogger: Marcia Julian,
DWC Team Leader,
Sri Lanka: March 2015.
To learn more about DWC / Developing World Connections, see their website.