Latest News

1

Oct

2009

The Oldest Farmer

Tikira is 97 years old and still an active farmer. He used to come to the Community Friends health clinic with his friends. He would always greet our volunteer group and visit for a few minutes. Sometimes he would join us for a tea.

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He brings his friends to the clinic who need medical attention. I think he is doing a great service to his community. Although Tikira didn’t come to the clinic for medicine, Dr. Ajith used to check his health condition and so far we have not given him any medicine. However, Dr. Ajith suggested that Tikira use eyeglasses, but we were careful not to push him too much.

We asked what the secret is behind his sound health. He said, “I love gardening, I work every day in the garden, gardening vegetables, and after that I have a very good shower and I am very happy with my work and my life”. His work and happiness have certainly given him good health and a good life in Waitalawa. Tikira doesn’t have a complicated or stressful life. He works in the garden, eats what he grows and has a good sleep. This seems to be his secret to a long life.

Thanks,

Deva Ratnakara


5

Sep

2009

War Impacts Relief Efforts

It has been two years now since we established the first collectives in Ulla village. Unfortunately the war has made access to the village impossible without a military escort. The risk has been too great for our staff and volunteers to visit Ulla. As soon as it is safe to return to the village we will have an update on the rice and chili collectives. Our staff is hoping to make the 8-hour journey in the next month or two.

Carsten Henningsen


19

Mar

2009

Record Drought

A record drought has hit hard in Sri Lanka causing more suffering for farmers and a decrease in hydro-electric power. Unfortunately, our 10,000 tree reforestation project was launched at the same time as the drought started and we have experienced a 50% failure rate with our new tree plantings. We have now established micro-nurseries run by villagers to help provide new tree starts that will be used to replace the dead trees. The good news is that we are able to employ the local workforce to maintain the 10,000 tree goal. Once these fruit-bearing trees reach maturity in about five years, the village will have a new revenue stream and the economic transition from tea to fruit will take place.

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The blueprint for the reforestation project was designed by both the local community and the local university Agro-forestry Department. Dr. Gamini Hittinayake is a senior lecturer of Agriculture at the University of Peradeniya and a consultant for the Community Friends land restoration project in Waitalawa. We are very fortunate to have Dr. Hittinayake’s expertise.

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We are now hoping that the drought will be over with the coming of the next monsoon.

Carsten Henningsen


5

Mar

2009

Latha’s Baby

Latha’s baby girl, named Dasuni, is now 2 months old and happy at home. Her grandmother has been complaining about a rash on her skin but Dr. Ajith and Dr. Shalika said it’s nothing to worry about and it’s normal for new born babies.

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Latha has not recovered from the fear on the day Dasuni was born. According to our doctors, baby Dasuni is quite healthy but still it’s too early to say whether she will have a full recovery from the Hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) during birth. We need to monitor the baby’s growth and development. Our doctors will continue to monitor the baby closely.

Thanks,

Seevali Ratnakara


15

Jan

2009

Latha & Baby Return Home

After several days in the hospital, we drove Latha and her new daughter home for the first time. Her husband and parents were waiting to see the new family member for the first time. Both mother and daughter are doing well and we will post more news soon.

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The last several days at the hospital have been an exhausting experience for everyone involved, including Community Friends’ volunteers. Since Latha’s family was unable to make the journey to the hospital in the city, Community Friends’ volunteers and doctors have been providing around the clock care.

Seevali Ratnakara


11

Jan

2009

Tree Planting Under Way

With the ground prepared, holes dug, fire breaks established, contour drains cut, the planting of our 10,000 is officially ready to commence. The work of planting trees is being supervised jointly by KP, Dr. Hittunayaka, Jeewa, Deva and Seevali. Working through KP, we have arranged for tea pluckers from the local community to mount the massive effort to get the trees into the ground during the present wet season. As this planting window could be very short, the whole crew is working long hours to make this happen as quickly as possible.

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We anticipate that within five years, the fruit-bearing trees will begin to mature and the village can begin the transition from tea to more nutritious crops. Certainly this transition will benefit the villagers who now live in poverty and cannot even afford to buy the tea they grow for the factories.

Jay Goodfriend


4

Jan

2009

Latha’s Baby Is Born

The news about Latha is not good. She was admitted to the hospital January 4th in labor. Our volunteer clinic doctor, Dr. Ajith, and our directors arrived at around 10.00 p.m. Latha’s husband & parents were unable to make the trip from Waitalawa village to the city. In the second stage of delivery, the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck making normal delivery impossible. Doctors performed a surgical delivery. Due to the delay, the baby was in fetal distress. The baby girl is now in an incubator in the hospital’s special infant care unit. We checked on both mother and baby today but the condition is not stable yet.

Deva Ratnakara


3

Jan

2009

School Saved

Cambodia

The language school in rural Cambodia was threatened with closure when the landlord put the school property up for sale. A generous donor from the USA came forward and made a gift to Community Friends which allowed the school’s founder to purchase the property on behalf of the school. The children celebrated for days when they heard the news that the school would continue.

Carsten Henningsen


1

Jan

2009

Latha’s Pregnancy

Community Friends’ health clinic in Waitalawa, Sri Lanka, is in a remote mountain village situated in one of the best high-elevation tea plantation regions. Before we started offering monthly free clinics at the village, people had to walk nearly 10 kilometers to even reach a bus or three-wheeler to then take them to a local doctor. Our monthly clinics provide onsite health care led by our volunteer, Dr. Ajith, and other volunteer medical staff.

Last year, Latha, a newly married 22-year old woman came to our clinic. She lives with her parents and husband. Her husband works as a farmer in a small village far away from Waitalawa. After Latha’s marriage, her parents and husband wanted her to have a child immediately. Although she loves children, Latha explained that she was not emotionally ready. Her parents asked us to talk to their daughter about the situation.

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Seevali, one of our directors, along with our female doctor talked with Latha a couple of times and learned that she is afraid of becoming pregnant. We suggested therapy and our doctors began working with her. After only one month of therapy, we were surprised to hear that she was pregnant. She had decided to have a child without telling the doctors. She said that she “must please her parents and husband.” Her morning sickness became a serious illness compounded by her fear of pregnancy. Latha experienced continuous vomiting, no food intake at all, dehydration, and fainting until she suddenly collapsed. That night her mother called us for help. We went to the village and found Latha in very bad condition and immediately transported her to Kandy General Hospital about an hour’s drive from the village. Latha was admitted to the hospital and Dr. Ajith was alerted. Doctors at the hospital said that both Latha and her unborn baby were in critical danger.

Everything happened so quickly even her husband, who was away in another village working, didn’t know anything about the illness until he came home. While Latha was hospitalized, Seevali stayed with her each day, feeding her and personally monitoring her condition with hospital staff to make certain she was getting enough medical attention. The public hospital system requires having someone serve as a patient’s medical advocate. After three days in the hospital, Latha’s condition stabilized and she returned home to Waitalawa safely.

Latha is still coming to our monthly medical clinics and she is in good health now. Thanks to all Community Friends well-wishers and staff, we expect Latha will become a happy mother of a healthy child later this month.

Thanks,

Deva Ratnakara


8

Dec

2008

Hindu Blessing for Tree Planting

As we await the coming of the rain, the local villagers are holding a blessing ceremony on the land as a way of assuring our success. The whole community is now behind the effort and we are happy to be a part of their world. This occasion included good food and a large turn out of our friends and workers.

Jay Goodfriend

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