I’m going backwards to go forwards as sometimes I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going. Like sometimes being now. Tomorrow I go to Vietnam and Cambodia and I haven’t yet caught up with Sri Lanka and the wonderful trip I had there a month ago. Confined by time but hopefully not defined by time. That precious commodity every person on earth is given equal measures of, yet there never seems enough to go around!
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island just off the Indian coast. Ravaged by nearly 30 years of terrorist incited civil war which ended miraculously in 2009, it was just coming up to take a breath when the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami wiped out another 35 000 people. Tragedy twice.
Sad sad times for these precious and ever-so gracious people with a language (Sinhala) that bubbles and bounces off the tongue and looks like it sounds – very pretty with puffs and curves and…well.. bubbles. Lots of them.
As much as the landscape is awe abounding, alcohol and narcotic dependency with its erosion of human values is a major cause of concern on this beautiful island. The destructive past-times, stress and an inability to cope, frequently ends in suicide, giving Sri Lanka the highest suicide rate in Southeast Asia. The breakdown of the family unit is also of great concern. With a population of 20 million people, half of its foreign exchange earnings come by exporting labour to other countries. A quarter of its total workforce of 8 million are migrant workers, most working in Middle Eastern countries in conditions that could be described as modern-day slavery. The majority are female and unskilled, working as housemaids or domestic helpers for their employers, many surrounded by unimaginable wealth and privilege.
Mothers leaving their own children in the care of someone else, while they go to mother some one else’s children, far far away.
Heart retching stuff. And one of the major reasons I’m doing what I’m doing now – training trainers to teach a lost generation of teenagers how to do life – victoriously.
My three days teaching in Colombo were a huge amount of fun, coupled with a learning curve of how to work through two interpreters (Sinhala and Tamil) and reading a culture of which I was totally unfamiliar. Sri Lankan youngsters have a healthy respect for their elders and as I was old enough for most of the participants to call me Mother, my icebreakers and windup whoops of Yehaa! fell hard onto the stone cold floor. I soon realized I had to use local for local and on the second day I harnessed an amazing young man with a powerhouse of energy to warm the crowd up and win them over. He did so with much laughter and hilarity, broke down the barriers and by the end of the teachings everyone was Yehaaing at everyone yehaaing. Fun aside, there is no greater reward in a teachers life than seeing the lights go on and that “I’ve got this “ look as it melts across faces.
Lives transformed to transform lives.
I am immensely privileged and so honoured to be working with a humble gentleman called Cassie Carstens who wrote the Victorious Living programme. Cassie travels extensively worldwide and is making a remarkable difference everywhere he goes. To quote my fellow worker David Liprini: “The intensity with which he (Cassie) sees things gives me hope that maybe, just maybe the impossible is possible and we will see the world changing for the better. “
Inspiration enough to pull on my padded shorts, try to find comfort on a gel seat and enjoy ten days riding a bicycle through Vietnam and Cambodia. My pleasure indeed. Have strong legs, will pedal… to bring a small amount of relief and joy to a community in Cambodia in dire need of a school and day care facility.
But that’s another story and I hope to have that one blogged about as we ride along through rice fields and past temples. I’m hoping my bike will go more forward than back, that I’ll be certain of my comings and going and that time will be of no importance at all.
As for my very sore bum which hasn’t yet welcomed or absorbed the pain of training rides and persists in shouting the odds at any given opportunity….well all I can say is I hope that after day one, its such a numb bum that I’m no longer even aware of it. For all I know it could be displaying itself in an array of grand and bruised colours – probablyinpurple.