06/30/2022, 18.12
SRI LANKA
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A soup kitchen opens in Colombo to cope with hunger caused by the economic crisis

by Melani Manel Perera

Due to the situation, many Sri Lankans can no longer afford even one meal a day. Between 600 and 700 people show up at the community kitchen run by Rev Geeth Chamara De Silva. Talks for a credit line continue between Sri Lanka and the International Monetary Fund.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – “Many people do bad things to quell their hunger, others commit suicide. Recently a father hanged himself because he had nothing to feed his children with while a mother threw her son into a river and then attempted suicide,” said Rev Geeth Chamara De Silva, pastor of the Assemblies of God Church in Kadawatha, a suburb of the capital Colombo.

"It is essential to provide food to the hungry, and even just one meal a day is a relief for those who suffer from hunger,” he explained.

Thanks to the support of many people, Rev Geeth Chamara De Silva set up a community kitchen a month ago at the Bethany Church and other churches in Rajagiriya, Negombo, Wattala, Matara, Ratnapura, Gampola, Batticaloa, Delft and Vavuniya. Between 600 and 700 people show up every day to receive a meal.

“Since I have to go even to distant places to serve God, I have spoken to people who are suffering because of the economic crisis. They tell me that they survive on some fruit and boiling raw papaya. I saw tears in the eyes of parents desperately trying to feed their children."

The community kitchen was made possible by the Voice Foundation, led by Father Moses, himself an orphan, who decided to devote his life to children after his seminary studies.

"Through the Voice Foundation we fight child abuse and meet the needs of the most vulnerable," Rev Geeth Chamara explained.

"We provide mental care, medications and food in times of emergency, such as tsunamis and floods,” he noted. “The community kitchen is an extension of this to make up for the difficulties created by the economic crisis.”

All aid is welcome. Donations can be made via the foundation’s account number on WhatsApp and Facebook.

One benefactor who preferred to remain anonymous told AsiaNews that "it was a great pleasure for me and my wife to be able to contribute" because food “is man's first need".

Sumithra, one of the women using the kitchen in Kadawatha, said that she had difficulty getting food after her daughter-in-law's death.

"Our neighbours occasionally donate something, but when I heard about this opportunity I rushed to the place. It's a great blessing for people like us."

Sri Lanka defaulted on its debt in mid-April, and is unable to import fuel and other necessities due to a lack of foreign currency.

For months, people have been protesting against the cost of living calling for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan authorities and the International Monetary Fund are working on opening a credit line for the cash-strapped country.

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