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Showing posts from November, 2005

Sri Lanka Photos

Post Election Unofficial Holiday in Sri Lanka

It’s so boring and everything around here is quiet. Even though today is not a holiday, only a few showed up to work. Many people had gone to their homes far away from Colombo, to vote. Many of the shops are closed and streets usually crowded with people and vehicles are empty. There seemed to be a threat of unstable political situation on immediate aftermath of election but no such activities have been reported. Even the election yesterday was quite peaceful. Matter of fact, this was one of the most peaceful elections in recent memory in Sri Lanka.

Around noon today, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajpakse was declared the winner of the presidential election with a narrow margin with about 50.8 percent over 48.8 percent of Ranil Wickermasingha. The election was awfully close. Secretly, I was routing for Ranil, in the hopes that he might be effective in establishing the peace as he was the one who signed the cease fire agreement in 2002 but ....alas…

Sarvodaya as business:

Sarvodaya is not only…

Election day at the beach

November 17

November 17, 2005

Today’s was the presidential election in the country. This meant half a day off for Sarvodaya workers. But, since many of the workers live out of town and they have gone to their home to cast their vote. Thus, many of the offices were empty and I couldn’t do much. Early in the morning I met with Mr. Emily Anthony of Sarvodaya Economic Empowerment Services (SEEDS). Mr. Anthony walked me through the various activities of SEEDS. The three main activities that SEEDS is involved, in creating economic empowerment, are encouraging collective savings, providing small scale loans (micro-financing), and conducting entrepreneurship development training. The loans start at SLRs. 20,000 ($200) and interest rate is about 22%. I had always thought interest rate for micro-lending was about 6 to 7%, Mr. Anthony told me it ranges to 30 to 40% internationally, including in Bangladesh.

Mr. Anthony told me that SEEDS is attempting to register itself as a finance company but beca…

Meetings at Sarvodaya

It was a good day today little more productive. First thing in the morning I had a meeting with Mrs. Udani Mendis, the Executive Director of Sarvodaya. We discussed about several issues that are important for respective organizations. She was very gracious and took me around the Sarvodaya headquarters to meet other senior staffs. Unfortunately, many were away in the fields and out of offices. She also asked Bandula to give special priority to my needs and I was flattered.

Later, I spent some time with her at Rural Technical Service Unit (RTS), which handles all most all of the constructions activities. These days they are involved in building drinking water systems with three major donors from Europe.

A few things really struck me of Sarvodaya’s operation: First, it seems like what projects Sarvodaya takes on is dictated by donor funding and thus donor interests. I queried why the focus on “the drinking water only”. These RTS is involved in drinking water projects because “donors want t…

In Sri Lanka

7:30 PM, November 15th

November 14th, Day one in Lanka
I arrived in Sri Lanka little after mid-night on the 14th. Mr. Wijayaratne (pronounce Vijayaratna) of Sarvodaya International Unit had come to pick me up with a vehicle and the driver. Sarvodaya headquarter was almost two hours South from the international airport. When we got to the headquarters it was about 2:30 AM. I was put at a guest house by School for Deaf Children. It’s a one story house with two rooms, a living room, a kitchen. The room had two twin sized bed with beautiful green mosquito nets attached to it. It has been a while I had used the mosquito nets. Even though, it’s somewhat humid temperature was at 24 degree centigrade and was raining. Immediately, I slept and woke up only at 11 AM.

Around noon, Mr. Wijayaratne came to pick me up. He mentioned he had ferried twice already. Obviously, I was deep into sleep and I had no clue. But, after that long trip and time difference, I didn’t feel a need for to be too much apol…

In Singapore

8:40 PM
Changi Airport, Singapore

Immigration
As I headed towards the immigration, I was nervous. But, to my surprise I was given visa for 13 days without a single question. For the most part, I have always experienced almost a harassment or humiliation in many of the countries for carrying Nepali (for that matter third world country could be lumped together) passports. Even though, I have entered and existed United States quite a few time, it takes some endurance to get pass the immigration (more difficult is getting a visa at the embassy).

Service
After exiting the immigration and customs, I headed straight to the Singapore Visitor’s Center, where I hoped to get information about visiting the city. At the center, a friendly staff informed me that at the Terminal two there would be a shuttle bus that would take me to the city for free. He gave me a form to fill and directed towards the Skytrain that would take me to the Terminal two.

As soon as I had gotten out of the Visitor’s Center, a …

Night at Singapore Airport

Day2: November 13
10:49 AM (Singapore time)

Changi Airport, Singapore

Six and half hours of flight between Tokyo and Singapore was fine, I endured most of the flight sleeping. The plane landed little past the mid-night here. I had over 22 hours in transit. Most of the stores in airport were closed only with a few openings. The airport looked nice and well-maintained. I had heard of a place where you could sleep at the airport. Actually, it turned out to be fine Hotel.

At the corner of Terminal one, Ambassador Transit Hotel, was still busy with customer. I was told it costs S$ 54 for a block of six hours. I got two blocks for US $70 and headed to the room for a good night’s sleep after 29 hours of travel.

It was nice room with two beds, slept for eight hours, took a long shower and I am here at Pacific Café drinking a café latte, which costs me over S$4.00. At this point, I still have over ten hours and I am contemplating a visit of the City. There is a free tour for transit passenger. Now,…

Long Flight to Sri Lanka

I arrived in Narita airport after a long flight that left Seattle about 11 hours ago. My trip to Sri Lanka actually started early morning yesterday about 6 AM US CST in Madison. On the way, I stopped in Denver and Seattle for a couple of hours and have about two hours in Narita before I continue on to Singapore for today. My next flight for Colombo is after 23 hours, a long layover in Singapore tonight. This flight is too long.

The flight so far has been fine except that I didn’t get a seat by the window. This morning, when I had boarded in Madison, I specifically asked for the window seats and the person at United counter had assured me that he had given me one. The, seat 41F on flights from Denver to Tokyo, I thought was by the window until I boarded huge Boeing 777, which had 3 rows with five seats on the middle row. The seat 41F was not only in the middle row, it was middle of the middle row. Plus, because of the seat arrangement, the little screen in front of row was little to th…