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Bridging Lanka Monthly Report
Planning – A Thing of the Past?  July 2021

On Again...Off Again...On Again

Finally, the Kunchukulam gym had its official opening. The gym building renovation and set-up was completed three months ago but remained closed due to rolling Covid lockdowns. Jerad and his team of Kunchukulam youth both male and female, supported by Bridging Lanka’s Fighting Fit crew, have worked tirelessly to get the gym operational. 
Complete with social distancing, a reduced invitation list and mandatory mask wearing, the ceremony proceeded smoothly. MC, James Jesuthasan, introduced the chief guest, Mannar’s Government Agent, Mrs Stanley de Mel, who waxed lyrical about Bridging Lanka’s role in the district. Also in attendance was the Madhu Divisional Secretary, Chairman of the Nanattan Pradeshiya Sabha, members of the Kunchukulam Sports Club, locals and Donkey Clinic and Bridging Lanka staff. The best part? An eye-popping fitness demonstration by Fighting Fit bods, Hindhujan, Luman and Seenu.

Planning for Success by Jaslin Thanapala, Fitness Trainer

After months of closures due to Covid-19 our Adampan gym is opened again for our customers. Once more we are getting back to normal. We are happy that our new client numbers are slowly going up. Also, we are introducing an outdoor workout program and a personal training service for those individuals who have limited time to spend on exercise, have weight problems or want to achieve fast results. We are planning a promotion to attract even more clients and also starting to develop a proper business plan for the Adampan and Kunchukulam gyms to make sure they run successfully. I am developing my understanding of the business planning process so I can help the gym managers develop their own plans.

The False God of Fear by Kavivarman, Fighting Fit Project Officer

Integrity has become important to me - being true to my word. I have developed many presentations on important topics for the Fighting Fit project: ‘Less screen time’, ‘Higher self – lower self’, ‘Reducing alcohol and drugs’ and a new presentation on being consistent. When I’m practising what I am preaching I feel good, strong and genuine. But lately I have failed at times and fallen into a black hole as a result. 

I have realised that at these times fear has driven me. A small fear becomes huge and it is if the sky has fallen on me. When this happens I lose myself as I spiral down. I separate from people and this creates lots of negative energy. When I am like this I cannot give any presentations because I feel fake. When I finally talk to my uncle (Jeremy) who is also my boss at Bridging Lanka, I start to reflect and see more clearly the consequences of my fear. Because of my experience, nowadays I can feel how others are struggling.


Getting Image Conscious by Eric Fernando, Graphic Designer

I’m back after a month away from work due to Covid’s lockdowns and no buses to travel the 60 kms to the office. This month I did lots of interesting creative designing work. Mainly I learned about t-shirt graphic design and made three t-shirt designs - one for Café Arokkiya staff (delayed by two months as we struggled with choosing colours). Then I worked on t-shirts for the two gyms which was really challenging because I had to represent the gym’s very different geographical areas in the Illustration - Kunchukulam and Adampan. Lastly I finished a new logo design for Youth Nation Digana. I got a concept of the four religions bound together in a single tree. I made the logo very fast but the placement of the wording took a huge amount of time. Then this month finally we finished all the inner Gym Workout presentations designing in English and Tamil for the Fighting Fit project.  

Turning a Corner towards Organics by Jerad Anton, Agricultural Officer

This month there was a good development in my organic cultivation project – introducing a new plant variety. This plant is a variety of eggplant. One farmer is going to grow 500 of these plants. This farmer is the same one who cultivated 300 turkey berry plants last time. He used part of his turkey berry income to build a dug well which will provide water for the new crop. And also, he prepared a new land for this cultivation and he is really happy with trying new things. He is also doing semi organic pumpkin. Another good thing is that all the family are happy with cultivating using organic methods so are also very supportive.  The most pleasing thing is that in Kunchukulam most of the other farmers are now changing to organics, making their own compost and experimenting with additional crops. 

Resisting Temptation & Winning Converts by Mowleesan

It has been more than a hundred days since I give up on drinking alcohol. I got advice from a friend. He told me that whenever I get the urge of dinking I should put that money into a money box. As a result now I bought a fridge for my shop from my saving so imagine how much I would’ve spent on alcohol!

The other day I was invited to a wedding party. My friends were there who I used to drink with. They all were happy when I was there with them. Then a friend from the group offered me arrack. I refused to drink. They were totally shocked and didn’t believe me. I told them strongly that I had stopped drinking alcohol. Now few of my friends are trying to quit drinking, and some are saving the money like I did before. Happy to influence them in a good way. Thanks BL and my brothers from BL.

Reality Counselling by Kumanan Mailvaganam, Fighting Fit
Project Coordinator

We are progressing well with our Peer Counselling training activity as part of the Fighting Fit project funded by the Australian Government. Eight young women and nine young men have been learning and practising basic counselling skills – active listening, giving attention, rapport building, reflecting, creating empathy, among others. At one session, two female participants practised their counselling skills in front of the others. The ‘client’ shared a personal problem, of breaking up with her boyfriend because he was cheating on her. 

The session became real and electric. The ‘client’ continued, that she was being tortured by this incident and even cried while relating the painful saga. The ‘peer counsellor’ handled the situation well, putting into practice the micro skills learnt. She showed empathy, coaxed her out of her emotional state by asking empowering questions and helped her reflect over her life goal of becoming a teacher. In the end, the ‘peer counsellor’ helped her ‘client’ see her true value and as a result, a healthier way to deal with the issue. 


Next – a Kitchen Renovation

For the One-Stop-Shop guys to continue learning various trades while under lockdown conditions, their next challenge was to renovate and fit out a domestic kitchen. The existing building was a cramped dark hovel that produced some of the tastiest food in Mannar. The six trade requirements for this job were carpentry, plumbing, masonry, electrical, painting and landscaping. The space was measured, cupboards and benches constructed, walls cut to introduce more light, walls plastered, fixtures and electricity installed and a sink and associated plumbing completed. To enhance the ambiance and connect kitchen to garden, landscaping works were also undertaken. Komakan, Jerad, Luman, Seenu and Dilu gained much experience from this ‘tradie trial’. We now await an invitation to a meal cooked in this renovated kitchen.

Many Strings to His Bow

Meet our dedicated all-rounder – the HARC - Hendro Animal Rescue Centre’s security officer, site manager, care taker and keen organic vegetable grower, Mr Abraham.  A recently established garden boasts a variety of vegetables including manioc, ladies fingers, green chillies, long beans, brinjal, tomatoes, moringa, turkey berries and also watermelon. As food shortages begin to take hold in Sri Lanka, food security is fast becoming an out of reach goal for many poor families due to unavailability and increasing prices. The sale of vegetables is part of the strategy of keeping the HARC project alive while the site is being established and buildings constructed.
A Mannar street pooch waiting for the Hendro Animal Rescue Centre to open

Covid Poverty Response

As donations from Australia contract it is getting harder to respond to the acute cases of poverty in Mannar brought on by lockdown restrictions. The most affected are the ‘day labourers’ who reply on meagre daily wages to even have one meal a day. Our latest request for help with food was from a woman from Santhipuram, an impoverished urban village. We approached the Grama Niladhari (village head) who confirmed 35 families in similar dire straits. Our boys purchased and packaged the dry food ration packs, each worth Rs 2,000, and distributed them. A similar response was undertaken in Kopewatte, a poor rural village in Kandy District. The distribution was organised by Shamini, our Bridging Lanka worker there.

In Australia, Bridging Lanka Ltd is a public benevolent institution (PBI) with charity status with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission, deductible gift recipient status and charity tax concession status with the Australian Taxation Office. All donations are tax deductible.

In Sri Lanka, Bridging Lanka (Guarantee) Limited is a registered not-for-profit company with the Registrar of Companies and as a Voluntary Social Service Organisation with the Secretariat of Non-Governmental Organisations.
Donate Now
We are most grateful to Animal Aid Abroad, a major partner and a proud financial supporter of our Donkey Clinic and the Donkey Rescue Service.
We are also very appreciative that the Fighting Fit project is supported by the Australian High Commission to Sri Lanka and Maldives through a Direct Aid Program Grant.
Bridging Lanka contact details:

28 Mellor Street
Kedron, QLD 4031
68 Esplanade Road
Mannar 41000
Sri Lanka

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