Sunday, November 20, 2011

When everything is spoon-fed, asking for a small sacrifice arouses anger

One of the lessons I have learnt especially in Sri Lanka, is that if anything is provided sans a sacrifice of some sort, those provisions, sometimes by other people sacrificing and foregoing are lost on the recipients. The latter do not appreciate the sacrifice the giver has suffered, and neither do they appreciate what they have received, often believing it is the duty of the giver to give no matter what.

This hypothesis is even more apparent when one is in Politics, where people demand things in a more brazen manner for future assistance which nevertheless cannot be guaranteed. People want a free lunch and object even to pay 10% of the cost. I believe for one to benefit from something, if one has sacrificed something to receive it, then one is more likely to make an effort to gain from the episode, or protect the object received by way of subsidy. How then can one wean them from total dependency to one where there is a partnership, one where it is 90% from the benefactor and 10% from the sacrifice of the recipient as a minimum?

I was at a local youth meeting yesterday, at which a sports club of young people received some sports goods, and two girls, one of them in the above photograph obtained some financial assistance to carry on her studies. We discussed a future event, which was a two day workshop at a location, where we expect around 200 to come and bond with each other and from it develop a core of young talent that can help the party as well as the local community in some way, promoting both leadership and accountability, along with a training from outside instructors of empowerment, and taking control of their lives. This would be something that is useful to any young person who is embarking on their life journey once they leave school and enter the tough world of the labor market.

I made a suggestion that each candidate contribute 10% which amounts to Rs200 to the program. The benefactor will contribute 90% of the cost of this two day workshop. The howls of anger that a charge would be made was instant! There was no charge in the previous workshop, so a repeat of the same formula was expected. Reason- ‘people will not come as they will not be able to contribute this sum’.

If a young person between the age of 18 and 25 cannot find Rs200 non refundable commitment to confirm their attendance, they do not deserve to get Rs20,000 worth of a leadership training that will cost us about Rs2000 to provide. This money is not from people who do not have a home or electricity. They are not the poorest. They are likely to spend that in a week on phone cards. The food cost saved at home for two days will be higher than this suggested contribution.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The new kids on the block – what surprises do they have in store for me?

There is a time to show compassion and a time to look after oneself. I don’t know how wise my choice was when the Hingurakgoda caretaker, took flight to the Maldives to seek his fortune. Over the weekend, I was introduced to a couple, who were living in Ratmale, and in search of work and a place to live. I took a chance and told them to develop the property if they could. I was adamant that the young girl who I had presumed he had run away with from Habarana also look at the property and decide for themselves that it was the choice they wanted to make to grow the potential into the Garden of Eden of my dreams. Dream on!

I have not had too much luck in the people who have been in charge there, and so I am not too hopeful lest I be hugely disappointed. Whilst I had made every effort to build this place, pumping in my earnings over the years working day and night, those who were left in charge of the property were not as careful with produce, equipment, tools of trade and the maintenance thereof. So is fifth time luck a bet?

I have gone on ad nausea m about the failure of our young people, and still I entrust a lot of my personal possessions to an unknown and untested duo out of necessity or pity! The latter was after I sought advice from those who came with me this weekend, who said I should give them a chance. It is perhaps a roll of the dice.

We have a vision and a concept we want to create. Imparting that into the minds of others who may have other intentions is difficult at best, and managing that vision through the work and care of others is fraught with disappointment and anger.

In my new role which includes organizing and developing the youth into tomorrow’s leaders with a sense of vision, accountability for one’s actions and hope for a better future for them, I realized that I have two properties in Polonnaruwa that could be used for leadership training, in two day workshops of outbound programs where teams could bond and provide some framework of what it is to develop a rural setting into a sustainable and environmentally sensitive small scale enterprise. It is difficult to impart this concept to people who think in a narrow range and cannot think outside of the box, however it is still worth a try.

This blog which relates my experiences and indulgences, could see a new phase from my return to two legs. The new possibilities, my new avocation, mixed with the foundations set from my previous avatar can come up with a combination that may provide some of the answers I have been searching for and which I must share with others lest if I keep it all to myself, all I learned blows away with the wind.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An impression of the repeat visit to Pasikudah in November 2011

I went to bathe in the sea at Pasikudah Beach on Sunday, a few days ago. Considering that I am still in crutches, unable to walk, it was exhilarating to get into the water and swim and float with no crutches for over three hours. This was my first experience after the accident of swimming in a body of water. I have been asked by the surgeon to get the needed exercise by swimming as it does not involve putting weight on my healing right leg, but I have not been able to organize my schedule and transport so to do.

My last visit to Pasikudah was before any construction had begun on the beach, and I hasten to report on my disappointment, and sadness at the pathetic structures that seem to be coming up in such a pristine bay. It would have been better not to put ANY structure than those currently in progress, and leave the bay full of what it was when I first visited the place in days gone by before wars, and tsunamis, where only coconut trees fronted the whole bay.

Just imagine how nice it would have been just to have those trees instead of hotels. Money talks and if we must have hotels then they should be hidden behind rows of coconut trees that are 20 deep. There is no requirement for the hotel to have a beach view, as in any case the maintenance will be very costly and rusting can be avoided by the tree buffer. The walkways to the beach must be clearly marked so people do not walk under the coconut palms and have a coconut fall on their heads! A sure way for a quick and involuntary exit.

The road from Valaichainai to the Bay is still under repair and widening and would be a while before that is done and this time there was no charge from the local council for parking the vehicles as there was last time. There was a police presence to keep the peace and also life guards on duty with white buoys marking an area beyond which swimming was discouraged for the safety of the swimmers. The place was packed with people as it was a Sunday, but I was very unimpressed with the cleanliness of the bay and the beach which really needs a lot of cleaning of debris from God knows where that must be periodically moved if we are to feel happy to swim and play in the water. All one needs is one of those sand shuffler machines they have on the California beaches which daily at dawn shovel up the sand and remove any debris on the shore as it goes along. The whole bay can be cleaned by one machine in about half hour with one man driving it.

On our return we stopped at a ‘Waadiya’ and 1kg of medium sized lagoon prawns to cook for lunch cost Rs550. We got back to my place in Polonnaruwa in an hour.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We must teach our youth to handle intense pressure without resorting to anesthesia?

Yet again I attended a funeral house on behalf of my boss, as he was away, in Bothale, Meerigama. The 25yr well educated, rising star at a Branch of Commercial Bank died as a result of the roll-over of the double cab down a precipice not even 1km from his home. He had consumed alcohol and was out with a friend to purchase more when the accident happened while his friend who was the driver survived, by jumping out during the tumble. Needless to say the next day’s papers had the photo of the vehicle on page 3. Yet nothing concrete is done!

I was present when the body was brought into the house. He was unmarried, eldest of three and a rising star, where his father is a driver at a commercial establishment. So he would be considered to be one who made the grade, surmounting great odds of family background and economic circumstances. This boy had also recently been in a bad motorcycle accident and survived with a long period in the ICU, so he defied one chance but took one too many to meet this fate.

Is this a common direction of even rags to riches kids, who were able to provide a decent home where his family lived, which I would consider middle class? I am not sure if I mentioned this before but more than half the funerals I have been to lately on account of the constituency work are of people younger than me, and the numbers of lads in their 20’s and even teens beggars belief.

This is social problem, we must face it, too many young people are driven to alcohol, cigarettes and ganja, which I have seen first-hand (of hard drugs, I am not competent to comment) I am sure that there are statistics and unless we take steps to tackle the peer pressure, we can big good bye to a great future. Every time someone wants to enjoy something it seems to require alcohol, as a base, then the cigarettes, and bites and rest of it like drums, singing, loud music even at public areas that disturb the peace of others seems to be the order of the day.

The mother was loud in her condemnation of his friends, ordering that none attend the funeral. She blamed them for him not listening to her admonishments. It is easy to blame parents, and I suspect the mother may have even gone overseas to earn during the formative years where this boy got into bad company, as the father was out on his job. This lack of parenting may have also been a contributory factor.

We must face the fact that our society is broken, and we who spend most of our time in social service trying to help people of all walks who require assistance, should be aware of what is going on and alert the decision makers to the issues, so prompt corrective action can be taken before it becomes unmanageable.