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07/21/2016

From the trip to Sri Lanka

The Tokyo office’s staff in charge of projects in Sri Lanka visited Sri Lanka to inspect past projects, the agricultural well that was built, and the activities of the agricultural cooperative. I would like to take the opportunity to report on it.
I left Japan on July 3rd, and arrived at Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike International Airport. The airport is 34 km from the city of Colombo, but now we can use the highway, and takes around 45 minutes to reach the city by car.
Since the end of the civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka has undergone rapid economic development. Especially in Colombo, many hotels are being constructed, and in coastal areas there were many high-rise buildings being built.
In contrast, agricultural areas are left behind that the gap between the city and the agricultural areas is widening. In particular, the northern parts of Sri Lanka such as Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu prefectures were areas of severe fighting, and now many residents are leading uncertain lives because many had to flee their homes.
Even after returning to their homes following the end of the civil war, families lived on agriculture are laden with problems, since the war destroyed many of their agricultural equipment and facilities.
In response to this, JEN has been implementing a long-term project on economic recovery for returning residents through agriculture and rehabilitation support business. Through this visit, I saw how the participants were able to return to independent agriculture, and confirmed the effects of the project.
[Kilinochichi Station, closest station from the Main Office of JEN’s Sri Lanka Branch]
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After 7 hours of a bumpy train ride from Colombo, we reached the nearest station to JEN’s main office in Sri Lanka. Snacks and lunches are sold during the ride, so you can enjoy the Sri Lanka cuisine on the way.
[Water storage tank in the Kilinochichi city that was bombed during the civil war]
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Like this, in the city there are still places where you can see traces of the civil war. I get shivers when I imagine the bomb that destroyed such a big water storage tank.
[The member of the Agricultural Co-operation]
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The photo shows the agricultural co-operation that was set up Mullaitivu prefecture in the 2014 project. The leader of the agricultural co-operation have been demonstrating leadership, and continuously running the co-operation. As the civil war intensified, to avoid danger, the residents had to escape. However, they have been able to return to their homes and have been working on building back their income. Though the visit, I felt the strength and courage of the affected communities.
[Cutting mangoes]
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Dried fruits are made with a food dryer at the agricultural co-operation. Little by little, they are raising some income from its sales.
[Dried Papayas]
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I had a chance to taste them. The sweetness was condensed and it was very delicious!
[The well for agricultural use that was built during last year’s project]
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The well is being used together by two families. When I visited, they kindly gave me some vegetables as presents!
[Fruits and vegetables that I received from the Agricultural Co-operation when I visited]
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Every time I visited project sites, the people of the agricultural co-operation offered me freshly harvested pumpkins, peanuts, papaya, and eggplants. I was touched by the hospitality of the people of Sri Lanka.
Through this first visit to Sri Lanka, I was able to see the efforts of the people who suffered the long civil war but still try to rebuild their lives. Seeing this helped me reconfirm that JEN’s projects are effective.
Also, even though they continue to live difficult lives, they were so kind to this Japanese visitor, and even gave us souvenirs. I truly felt their kindness. Also, I was able to learn local traditions and mindsets, which gave me time to rethink about my own life. I believe that their spirit of hospitality will play an important role in supporting the Sri Lankan society as is grows.
To support these people of Sri Lanka through projects in Japan, we will continue to work hard! The project to enforce community relations will still be running, so I hope that you will continue to support us.

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July 21, 2016 in Sri Lanka |