This blog-a-thon submission is by Sandani, a youth enrolled in
ChildFund’s programs in Sri Lanka. Sandani writes about the way she
views her community and the struggles she faces post the 2004 tsunami. To learn more about ChildFund International and to see more photos from Sandani check out the ChildFund website or follow this link.
The community I live in is Kirinda, situated in the Hambantota district of the southern province of Sri Lanka. It borders both Yala National Park and the sea. It is a community where Singhalese and Muslims live in harmony. Singhalese mainly engage in farming while Muslims do fishing.
Chena cultivation (slash and burn) is the livelihood of about 80 percent of the families in my area. This cultivation solely depends on monsoon rain received from October to February and intermittent showers in March and April. It is a struggle from the day of sowing to the day of harvesting. All the challenges in life that come one after the other like waves, we face with the little income earned from chena.
Though they used to, most of the farmers no longer cut and burn the jungle in Yala National Park. They try to do their farming in harmony with the animals and the environment now. The reason for this is that they know they too will be destroyed if the environment is gone.
The farmers in my community still cultivate using traditional methods. They work both under the sun and rain, no difference. During the farming season all the family members go and stay in a temporary hut built in the cultivation area. This is mainly to protect and look after the crop. All the family members from child to father are involved in the farming. Children help parents in light work while parents do the hard. So the burden of farming is shared between all members of the family. They stay vigilant during night to protect the crops from wild animals such as elephants, boars, deer and cows. This is not a new thing. This is something our farmers have been struggling with for generations now.
Elephant attacks are a threat to many people in our area. The growing population in the village has encroached on the habitat of the elephants and these animals frequently roam around. They sometimes destroy houses and crops. There were number of deaths reported recently because of elephant attacks. Sometimes elephants also lose their lives.
In my community, there is a small harbor called Kirinda harbor. Our
Muslim friends mainly engage in the fishing industry. Some use boats to
go to sea at night while others use small canoes to fish during the day.
For family members of the fishermen, it is uncertainty until they
return home. Just as the farmer struggles with the land, the fisherman
battles with the sea. But all their tiredness evaporates when they see
Though most people in my community engage in farming, we are rich with a
considerable area of jungle. Yala National Park is the second biggest
jungle in Sri Lanka. It has important archeological and historical sites
built in the days of kings in Sri Lanka. Elephants, bears, deer,
leopards and many birds can be seen here. This is a big tourist
Also Bundala is another national park situated close to my village. This
is a transit route for many migratory birds from Europe and Asia. The
size of it is 6,210 hectares (more than 15,000 acres). A considerable
area is covered with lagoons, and about 18 reptile species and 150 bird
species live here. The Lunugamwehera game reserve situated close to my
area. This is also home to many animals. And there is the Lunugamwehwra
reservoir, which provides water for our community and many other
My community was affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami that caused
devastation in 2004. Many people died and lots of property was
destroyed. However, the lives have been rebuilding over the years now.
Sandani, ChildFund International