06/22/2022, 17.14
SRI LANKA
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Christian woman gives part of her pension money to hard up families near Colombo

by Melani Manel Perera

Silva decided to financially help five families. With food prices staying high, people continue to protest. Today, a human chain demanded the resignation of the president and the prime minister.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – “Our country is going through a very difficult period. But as Christians, this is the best time to bear witness to life,” said Silva, 71, a retired teacher who lives near Kandana, in the diocese of Colombo, speaking to AsiaNews.

“I am a widow and thanks to the Lord I receive my pension," she noted. “My two daughters have also married and are doing well, so they don't need me to take care of them. Every month I spend some money on charity. This time I gave to those struggling to survive.”

For months, the capital Colombo has been the scene of anti-government rallies with protesters calling on the cabinet to resign because of runaway inflation. In mid-April, Sri Lanka declared default on its debt.

Today, activists and members of civil society groups formed a human chain stretching from the residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Temple Trees to the iconic "Gota Go Gama" camp, an area not far from the office of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Several times in recent weeks she has found herself having to be selective when buying food. “My expectation was to buy as much food as possible with my financial means, but food prices have gone up manifold,” Silva said.

"Since there is no gas or kerosene, people get a thousand rupees (US$ 2.75) to buy firewood. I donated 50,000 rupees (US$ 140) to five needy families. I gave up some of my comforts, but I did it willingly", she explained. Thus, “I was able to bear witness to my Christian life and I hope that this will be an example to my children and students."

It is clear however that donations alone are not enough to solve the current crisis in the country. "I think that those who understand the country’s real situation should get together and oppose the government,” Silva said.

According to the Department of Census and Statistics, the bottom 20 per cent of the population earned only 17,572 rupees (US$ 50) per month in 2019, the next 40 per cent earned 26,931 (US$ 75).

The median monthly household income three years ago was 76,414 rupees (US$ 215). In the current economic crisis, this figure is considered insufficient to guarantee three meals a day.

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