Monday, January 21, 2008

Conflict Affecting Work

So for the first time the conflict has gotten in the way of my job. We are not going east this week. The powers that be have said we should not travel between districts. I'm actually pretty upset about this. I feel that being in Colombo and taking public buses is way more of a risk than taking a private vehicle to another district, but Sewalanka isn't doing anything, nor do they seem to care, about that situation.

Anyway, IRIN had a really good article about the end of the cease-fire and the conflict intensification, if you are interested. It is definitely getting bad here, but I still do not worry too much about it. Barbara and I have taken to walking when possible, to avoid buses, because you can't be too cautious, but this isn't always an option. Since we'll be in this office all week now, we plan to discuss this problem with the powers that be because it is very much a financial issue. We also really need to find Barbara a bike.

Australia, Germany, U.K., Canada and Russia have all issued strict travel advisories to Sri Lanka. This is a terrible blow to the tourism industry (which was already suffering) because Australia and Germany provide a good majority of their tourists. I believe it isn't all that dangerous to travel here, but I also believe this sends a really good message to the government, namely, end this stupid conflict or your tourism industry will collapse along with the rest of your economy. I think I can say this with some confidence, as Britain issued a call for a new ceasefire practically in the same breath as the travel advisory. The IRIN article mentions that the EU is considering economic sanctions and not renewing Sri Lanka's "[d]uty free access of garment exports from Sri Lanka to the EU."

Meanwhile, I seem to be getting things done in a more timely manner. I reported that our washing machine has been acting up and they immediately took it to the shop. I've been told we'll get it back by the end of the week. I realize I'm counting my chickens before they hatch, but I'm trying to be more optimistic. I also seem to be much busier at work.

I had a meeting with our new handicrafts person and that project is finally starting up. I'll keep you updated on what we finally decide to produce. I was thinking it would be nice if our work carried a "peace" theme and we could embroider the word "peace" in English, Tamil and Sinhala on each item. Of course, this isn't really up to me and we may not even produce something with embroidery. I'm hoping we produce wallets -- there is a dearth of quality, nice wallets in this country. I'm fond of handicrafts that serve some purpose.

If anyone out there has any information on how to produce silk from banana plants, please, please let me know. I know it is possible. I know they do it in Thailand and the Philippines, but I haven't been able to find out how. We have so, so many banana trees here and so many varieties, it seems like this would be a worthwhile project.

And finally, speaking of bananas, here is my recipe for the most amazing banana-peanut butter milkshake:

4 Cini Kesal (small sweet bananas)
2 spoons of natural peanut butter
enough milk to reach the consistency you desire

Blend until all of the banana bits are gone.

So delicious. Later this week -- how to make the most incredible papaya juice in the world!

1 comment:

Rafael said...

It worries me that the EU is considering sactions against Sri Lanka. I think there should certainly be pressure but in light of the bully diplomacy the West has employed in the past seven years I suspect the SL government will simply thumb their nose at any attempts from the West to call the shots in SL. This conflict has raged on for more than 20 years and one can't even begin to really comprehend all the dynamics involved in trying to find a resolution.

I will keep your safety and the safety of all those in SL in my thoughts.