Today was a very important day on our study mission because we got to meet the beneficiaries of CCA and CDF's Tsunami relief efforts in Sri Lanka. CCA had provided the capital for a loan fund for Sri Lankans to access through the SANASA Development Bank to help encourage and accelerate the rebuilding process.
Near the town of Matara we visited a small village of 200 families. We were first met by the manager and board of their credit union. After introductions we were eager to move out into the village and see first-hand how some of the assistance from CCA was being used to improve the individual lives of the villagers.
With the warm hospitality that we have come to know and love we were invited into the homes of villagers who have borrowed money from their credit union to start small businesses, most of which are run out of their homes.
Throughout the afternoon we visited; a garment production business, a blacksmith, a goldsmith, rice paddy fields, a farm with buffalo, chickens, cinnamon, vegetables, and flowers, a dried fish production business and a brick maker. Some of these individuals have received and paid back multiple loans and continue to increase their own capacity very proudly and very responsibly.
One thing we have noticed about all those involved with SANASA, as well as the beneficiaries of the loan program, is that they don't look at assistance as simply charity or a donation to put a short term patch on a long term problem. They look at every dollar as an investment opportunity for long term development to continue their journey out of poverty. This perspective is a key strength which, combined with an unwavering commitment to co-operative values and principals, has made it possible for the Sri Lankan people to envision and begin to create a new and even better society in the face of war and natural disaster.
By: Mark Sparrow