Hope. The tidal wave of hate and distrust one ethnic group for the other in nationalist issues, that threatened to engulf this beautiful island - North, South, Center, East and West had seemingly receded after the Tsunami. The cry for a while of togetherness was give, give. Everyone basking in the warmth of love and goodwill. In this glow of heart-centeredness and magnificent generosity by Sri Lankans and friends abroad, one and all faced the New Year after the Tsunami with Hope. There was no criticism and an alienated posture was not seen or permitted. But as always, nothing is done right`D3 rhetoric has crept in. The monotonous moan, groan, gossip and grumble - the he said, she said, you said, we said, they said, is beginning to chill and depress.
It MUST Stop
The Tsunami has come and gone - destroyed much. Citizens must rebuild. There are solutions, but they must be implemented. There are many, many committed dedicated EXPERIENCED CITIZENS - Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Hindus of established Womens ORGANIZATIONS who could and would determinedly not drift on a cloudland of mere dissent and criticism - But act. There is so much for millions of hands to do, not only workshops, seminars, conferences. Beaurocratic plans, restricted by the FR and AR (Financial and Administrative Regulations). We are not advocating feminism, Dr. T. Kariyawasam ex Dir-Gen National Institute of Education (NIE) and National Integration Program Unit (NIPU), We women constitute more than 50 percent of our population. They are a human resource, which should be recognized for the development process of our country. Our vision and mission is to make our worthy contribution to the enhancement of our people. We are only advocating Feminity. The energy, idealism and intelligence of WOMEN with experience are the prime resource of a nation. Women must be involved in the mainstream of national life.
The country today is plunged into utter poverty. Three hundred thousand are homeless. Nearly 36,000 have lost their lives. What a devastated society needs most is food. Semistarvation generates warped perceptions. Our priority should be to provide them with a balanced diet. Indigenous food. For that purpose an inexpensive lean-to Kitchen with fuel conserving hearth is a necessity.
The Private Sector steering a conservative course, will not assist on a large scale. Firmly stating productivity levels are low in Sri Lanka. These youth in addition are highly politicized, unionized and lack discipline and commitment.
World of work
The Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Authority, Piyasena Gamage with Chairman Cmdr. Lionel Pinto of VTA have worked out a MoU - Memorandum of Understanding in a World of Work programme. Members of Memory of Mother Foundation (MOM) with the VTA will bring together well-established Women NGOs with islandwide branches and membership. This in an immediate implementation program.
To impart skills training it must be cost effective. Very much needed are MONIES FOR MATERIAL USED AND THERE must BE AVAILABLE A HANDS-ON JOB. Drop-outs-youth unemployed, will not take block-board instruction chalk and talk. After the Tsunami MONIES are available - JOBS are available. What is needed is implementation. If youth unemployed, army deserters could with these jobs be given, after trade testing a National Certificate, a uniform which makes the job distinct from manual menial work, (Thathweya is important) the country makes a substantial dent in 1.5 million unemployment figures.
The VTA will with Central office space, and personnel assist with administration, financial accountability and supervision of NGO utilization of funds received for Tsunami reconstruction.
A meeting on February 3rd at the VTA Ministry brought senior women together from long established organizations.
Dealing with poverty, officials of the Business and Professional Women’s Association have built a global village at Illukpitiya in the Polonnoruwa District. They have built 30 houses and now have experience of a job done well. They plan for 120 houses. The materials were supplied, the villagers themselves built the houses. They need to have the lean-to kitchen with fuel conservation hearth, toilet and well.
The Lanka Mahila Samithi working 75 years with rural communities found four of their Montessori Schools in Galle and Matara in shambles. The VTA Matara District Vocational Center at Talalla will assist with skilled labour and know-how. The youth participating, with LMS supervision will be trade tested in grade 1,2 or 3 and get the National Certificate. Money for building material will be provided.
The LMS is one of the oldest Women’s Organization in Sri Lanka. Worked the past 75 years for the rural communities in skills training -Kaduwela the main center. Focus is on agricultural activities, pre-school education, health education with emphasis on nutrition, safe motherhood and childcare. LMS has 140 nursery schools in remote villages in 16 districts.
Local food and herbs
The Housewives Association with branch organizations and a membership of 5000+ will encourage the concentration on Indigenous food and medicine preparations and the growing of herbs, which are now imported from India. Medical plants are an important resource of the South Asia Countries Estimates state that 80% of the world population depend on traditional medicines tor their health needs. It is an important income source for rural communities, especially for the stay-at-home mother. Also make aware that waste control, recycling and correct use of Cleaning Agents are hidden earnings in the Home. Running a Home and family demonstrates that Knowledge is necessary. Marriage today is a multifaceted business.
The ACWBC- All Ceylon Women`D5s Buddhist Congress supports very much the collected efforts of all women irrespective of religion. Participation and assistance where possible could be relied on.
The Methodist Mission could and would reach out to very large numbers. In reconstruction work both in the South and North the Mission has already built lean-to kitchens with fuel saving hearths. The rural poor find it a boon. A program Each One Reach One has been drawn up with long term measures to rehabilitate the 100,000 families now in transit camps-Homeless, jobless and helpless. Dr. Ajantha Perera with Leo Fonseka drawing up plans seek to establish a nation-wide network of Partner families and an International network of foster families.
The Kantha Abivuridi Sangamaya-Sinhala women’s organization, long established has the trained personel to assist. Indrani Iriyagolla, untiring worker with rural women in particular needs the support a Ministry of Skills Training could give. She will participate in this World of Work program with much enthusiasm.
AL Muslimanath has a membership of 10,000, throughout the country. The Muslims with access to an English education are in an academically oriented system, and are very unemployable when they leave. Dr. Marina Refai now insists they must acquire TRADE Skills. The re-building now required would help them change their attitude to skills training, specially when they acquire a National Trade Certificate, after Trade Testing, a passport to employment-abroad.
Veteran woman activists, the Sri Lanka Womens Conference, associates with a consortium of 45 Women NGOs. Three SLWC branches of the six are functioning, and have links with other NGOs on joint programs. Gender mix or all male like-minded. Established in 1927, when Lady Daisy Dias Bandaranaiyake was President, the SLWC was affiliated to the International Alliance of Women, which had consultative Status with the United Nations. To-day Nina Guruge of Galle alerts Colombo to a need to work with IDPs in Katugoda in the Galle, District, destroyed by the Tsunami.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) WITH Women`D5s organizations and one and all while sharing ideas and plans with VTA will implement and train in trade skills, throughout the island in this WORLD OF WORK program.
In 1881 W. R. Wallace, penned a few lines 'the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.' Over a hundred years later there seems to be no limitation placed over that power or any willed self-effacement.