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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Friday, December 08, 2006

Paramparaven: An old industry revitalised to empower women affected by the Tsunami

The Island: 08/12/2006"

‘Paramparaven’, an exhibition and sale of exquisite hand-crafted artistry by tsunami-affected women entrepreneurs from Mirissa, took place amidst a great deal of excitement and anticipation on Friday, 24 and Saturday, 25 November 2006 at the Grand Ballroom of the Galle Face Hotel. The event was organised by HSBC and South Asia Partnership Sri Lanka (SAPSRI).

The chief guests on the first day were Dian Gomes, Group Director, MAS Holdings and his wife, Dehara Gomes, while those on the second day of the exhibition were First Lady Shiranthi Rajapakse and Otara Gunawardene, Managing Director, ODEL (Private) Limited.

The exhibition was unusual in that it opened the eyes of visitors to the different dimensions to beralu lace and made for a platform to give a fresh perspective of its artistry. As one visitor commented, "Modern designs blended with traditional heritage to compete with the modern world and its market."

Firstly, there was coloured beralu lace – a completely new departure from the traditional and elegant shades of white, ivory and beige. Moreover, the designs, too, were innovative and eye-catching.

The vibrant shades of beralu adorned a variety of items, including household linen such as delicate tablecloths, table runners, serviettes and tablemats, exquisite bed sheets and pillowcases, gorgeous bed spreads; clothes such as pretty blouses, smart shirts, ethnic kurtas and sarongs and even a stunning collection of saris; and accessories like stylish shoes and slippers and chic handbags and purses. The fashion shows each evening displayed the wide range of beralu products on offer while the masked dancers added character and flavour to the event.

In addition to beralu products, the exhibition also showcased products by other, award-winning craftsmen and women. These will include skilfully sculpted clay items, finely crafted silver work, vivid lacquer work and beautifully grained wooden items as well as item made of paduru (coconut fibre) and traditional masks.

The exhibition was a culmination of a year’s effort on the part of HSBC and SAPSRI to uplift the tsunami-affected beralu lace-makers of Mirissa, in the south of Sri Lanka, thus making it a celebration of their triumph against the odds. Yet, even more, its objective was to revitalise the beralu lace industry and transform the way in which the industry was regarded, thereby generating business for the aspiring women entrepreneurs.

Shiroma D Jayawickrama, Manager Public Affairs, HSBC said, "The success of the exhibition and the entire project, as whole, was in that it raised the income levels of two hundred beralu lace makers from Mirissa as well as four hundred indirect beneficiaries. It has also shown people the different ways in which beralu can be used. Even more importantly, it has changed the attitude and outlook of the lace makers, who were initially quite reluctant to try these innovative colours and designs! The positive response to the exhibition has now convinced them otherwise. "

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

“Self Paradigm” to build a nation of integrity

Daily Mirror: 07/12/2006" By Deepika Gunasekera

Continuing from my previous article on “Sri Lanka needs a paradigm shift” (Daily FT of August 18) I would like to focus on the ever so important “Self Paradigm” which is also an insight from Stephen R. Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

The Criterion to measure the development of a nation is not only GDP and per capita income but also personal ethics, integrity, honesty and accountability (the values) of its people. If we analyze Sri Lanka as a nation where are we in this context? Whether it is the business community, public sector or private sector can we truly be happy with the rate things are progressing. Are we going back as a nation?

“Self Paradigm” according to Covey is the way we see ourselves. If you try to stand apart from your self, try to project your consciousness upward into a corner of the room and see yourself in your mind’s eye can you see yourself almost as though you were someone else? “Self awareness” makes us stand apart and examine even the way we see ourselves. This is the most fundamental Paradigm of effectiveness.

If the only vision we have of ourselves comes from the social mirror, that is the perceptions, opinions and Paradigm of people around us, it is not the real vision. It is merely a projection and character weaknesses of people giving the input rather than accurately reflecting on what we are. This means we are determined by conditioning and conditions around us. According to Covey all this is based on stimulus and response theory. However what is amazing is between stimulus and response; man has the freedom of choice to think differently. Covey says in addition to self awareness, we have “imagination”, the ability to create in our minds, “conscience”, deeper awareness of right and wrong, and “independent will”, the ability to act based on our self awareness. This is something unique to humans. It’s a human endowment.

A basic habit of a highly effective person is “proactivity”. It means more than merely taking initiative.-it means as human beings we are responsible for our life. The ability to choose your response is responsibility – response – “ability”. They do not blame circumstances, conditions and their behaviour. Their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choice based on values.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said” no one can hurt you without your consent”. Gandhi said “they cannot take your self respect if we do not give it to them”. It is our willing permission; our consent to what happens to us that hurt us far more than what happens to us in the first place. Though it seems impossible to accept emotionally that’s what proactive people do. Once you practice it will become a part of your life.

The essence of this article is who ever you are, what ever you do, what ever the position you hold, you choose to be what you are. Whether you want to be a person with integrity, honesty and accountability is your choice, you cannot blame the conditions for your decisions.

If only we Sri Lankans are willing to take a look at ourselves or our “self paradigm” we will be able to become a nation of integrity, honesty and accountability. It will definitely be a conceptual revolution within Sri Lanka.

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