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23

Dec

2009

Panama Women’s Cooperative Society

After finishing with Latha, we brought the Rice Flour grinding machine to Mr. Piyasena’s house in Panama. In the early days right after the tsunami, Community Friends staff had stayed in the town of Panama, which is about 10 km south of Ulla, while doing relief work in the Ulla/Arugam Bay area. During our stays there, we often were put up by a friend of Geeva’s named Geetha. Upon arriving at Mr. Piyasena’s house, we learned that he was away, so while we waited we decided to visit Geetha and say hello.

After exchanging news, we explained to Geetha what had happened with the collective in Ulla. That we had taken back the rice flour grinding machine and were looking for a new group who wanted to get into that business. Geetha was stunned. She said that she and a group of women in Panama had formed the Panama Women’s Cooperative Society. They worked together as a team and would find various businesses to get into. Currently, they had a baking business – making roti, pitu, string hoppers and this sort of thing. As a group, they had decided that their next step needed to be grinding their own flour, since their profits were being stifled by the high cost of ingredients.

Being both familiar to us and well established running a business, we felt this was a perfect match for the equipment in our possession. So we entered into a deal with them on the spot, ran over to Mr. Piyasena’s house, collected the grinder and within an hour the whole thing was concluded. Good luck ladies!

Jay Goodfriend