Eight young entrepreneurs and five staff in their 20s have commenced a business to provide computer services to underpin development in Mannar District, stalled as a result of 30 years of war. The business outlet offers graphic and web design services, computer repairs and maintenance, printing and photocopying facilities and spare parts sales. Recently ITP has established two outposts under the Computerizing Mannar Villages program. Diaspora Lanka assists with financial support, sourcing business and technical mentors and funding training and professional development.
Activities summary from last visit to Sri Lanka
• ITP continues to improve its profit margins and shoulder an increasing share of the costs.
• Currently Diaspora Lanka’s contribution has decreased to 50% of staff/operational expenses.
• Some staff changes occurred due to other enticing employment and training opportunities.
• To meet a dire need for “motherboard” training, DL provided Rs 60,000 (AU$525) for a five day intensive training course for three ITP entrepreneurs.
• ITP provided back-up IT and printing services to all 15 Australian and international volunteers, supporting them in their town planning, tourism and English language programs.
• During December volunteers from Vietnam and Estonia conducted weekly English language and activity programs for over 60 youngsters, culminating in a showcase event.
• Find cost-effective transport solutions to provide services to far-flung areas of the district.
• Raise funds ($500) for motherboard tools to repair failed computer motherboards.
• Review existing contract for financial support and negotiate a new contract in March 2014.
How you can help
• Assist ITP to develop its financial management, reporting capacity and a business plan.
• Contribute towards the AU$800 per month financial contribution to ITP.
• Raise AU$2,000 to purchase motherboard repair tools and a motorbike for distance travel.
In this edition….
…A three-day “lockdown” workshop produces inspired urban design for Mannar’s town plan
…Visible progress made on the women’s rice mill project
…A community tourism strategy gets the attention of the International Financial Corporation
…Successful overseas volunteer programs in 2013 will generate further ones in 2014
The past three months in Sri Lanka have been a mixed bag, of frustration and hampered progress on some of our larger projects and encouraging headway on our more community-level ventures. The political backdrop of this trip was vibrant and at times volatile due to the holding of the Northern Provincial Government elections and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM). The Government was also preoccupied with preparations for the forthcoming return to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in March of 2014.
A highlight of this period was having 15 overseas volunteers work alongside local counterparts on a range of projects. Although our town planning initiatives didn’t quite go according to plan, Diaspora Lanka brought out 11 Australian planning professionals who assisted to fast-track the Mannar urban development plan. Two volunteers came from Estonia to work on a community tourism strategy and an English-based activity program, while two further volunteers from Vietnam and Australia focused on establishing an ‘English as a Second Language’ (ESL) program.
Other pleasing developments included the progress made on establishing a rice mill so that women made vulnerable by the war can earn a daily income and the establishment of the Computerizing Mannar Villages initiative for children and youngsters in two more remote areas of Mannar.
Sri Lanka was able to complete demining in human settlement areas in the shortest period of time on record, said Ministry of Defence Spokesman and MOD Media Centre Director Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya .
He made these observations at a press conference held at the MOD Media Centre, Kollupitiya, yesterday. “Sri Lanka heads the list of countries which had completed demining in areas earmarked for human settlement, and farming lands, within the shortest period of time under international standards in the aftermath of the elimination of terrorism,” Brigadier Wanigasuriya said.
He added that 1.1 million landmines and explosives that were strewn by the LTTE terrorists have been recovered by the Security Forces and other groups that were engaged in the demining program. Countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia have not yet been completely demined after several decades since the end of conflict in those countries.
Brigadier Wanigasooriya said Sri Lanka was able to demine areas for human settlement and their farming lands a hundred percent and there is only 82 square kilometers to be demined out of the 2,064 square kilometres that was strewn with landmines, claymores, high explosives etc by the LTTE before terrorism was eliminated. He added the area that has to be demined is in the thick jungles and the demining program is in progress. Brigadier Wanigasuriya stated that the demining is conducted not as per Sri Lankan standards but under UN Demining Program standards.
He added that when demining was completed, such areas were inspected and guaranteed by UNDP officials before lands were handed over to the civilians. He also added that of the demined lands, more than 70 percent was demined by the Security Forces. The rest was deminded by local and foreign NGOs. He further said that Sri Lanka could humbly be proud of its success in the demining program within a short period of time as none of the countries have been able to achieve such a degree of success in demining after a conflict was ended. He added that mines in countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia etc have not yet been completely removed, though years after conflict.