So today, I headed out for a first meeting with a community in which we are starting our integrated livelihoods program. Went out there in full gear with ICRC, the Sri Lanka Red Cross and ourselves and the whole village came out. It is a village in an area that is both tsunami affected and conflict affected and there are lots of IDP’s from inland areas where fighting still continues though on a much lower scale than before. The east of Sri Lanka was recently liberated with parades and speeches the first week I was in Colombo some short three weeks ago (feels like ages already), and we don’t like to talk about pockets of conflict and violence that still remain. The people we work with however so like talking about it. At this entry point to the village, I love having ICRC there, esp in a village as this, since they can talk about what they do best. It reminded me, since it has been a while (little over a year) that I had sat down and saw an information dissemination session.
I love ICRC. They now have a nice video with Tamil (and Singhala) translations that talk about their work specifically in Sri Lanka. They have been around since the 50’s but set up a delegation in 1989 so they know both parties to the conflict and mediate on behalf on non combatants from talking to armed groups about child recruitment (sending messages or setting up meetings between the family and child if possible and even though it might take years uniting the child with the family), tracing services which they are known for across the globe, talking to prisoners making sure they are being treated humanely as much as possible and keeping them in touch with their families and vice versa (something I would love to do with them someday…someday when I don’t have a blog since ICRC folk are some of the most tight lipped people on this planet and have to be, more power to them) and then other protection issues. They are fucking cool. And I think the community appreciated there being there and talking about the work that they do. ICRC also explained how they are the daddy of the Red Cross Movement, IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross/Crescent) the mummy and we, the National Societies the babies. I thought that quite cute….and will keep my opinion to myself on what I actually think of that as a working metaphor in Sri Lanka.
SLRCS went next and it was all in Tamil but I have worked with the woman before who was giving the session so I could pretty much guess what was being said. SLRCS is a post for another time but one can imagine, as you should, what it would be like to be the SLRCS after an event like the tsunami and being awash (bad choice of word) with other National Societies (PNSs we are called, participating national society) and all the money we brought with us, not to mention working styles. Indonesia had and has a very strong and active Red Crescent Society called PMI (whatever that translates to in Bahasa Indonesia) and the Maldives didn’t have a Red Crescent so I am guessing they formed one there….or are in the process of doing so.
We went last and by this time, everyone was getting tired, not to mention it was getting time for us to leave since we have to be back at base by a certain time but will be going back for what I promised would be a meeting where it would be more participatory and we would actually get down to work. It is a pre PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) meeting with the community and I am hyper excited since I love community meetings and everyone really did seem just so lovely.
When calling into a radio thingie on your car to base, when the conversation from your side is over, you don’t say over and out. You just say out. Over means that you are expecting a response from the other side since you are handing it over to them. I knew this the last time I was here and rarely ever heard it being used correctly but that is a change I noticed. Two people said it right. I have just started using the radio and yes, I do feel cool. My sisters are going to make fun of me but that’s what I wrote about it here.
Ok, it’s 7 pm, I’m tired. Time to go home. More soon!
Big kisses to all.