07/06/2016, 15.11
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Water and houses: the work of Singaporean volunteers for the peasants of Sri Lanka

Ten members of Charis (Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives, Singapore) flown in Galle, south of the island, to help rural communities of the place. Led by a priest, they taught the local building water filtration systems and housing. “On this trip I realized that the language of love is universal,” said a 23-year old voluntary.


Singapore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – From Singapore to Sri Lanka in order to help poor inhabitants of the Country, who has no access to clean water, sanitary facilities and shelters. Ten volunteers from CHARIS (Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives, Singapore) recently embarked on a journey to teach and build bio-sand water filtration systems and assist in house building efforts in Sri Lanka.

The volunteers, led by Fr Michael Rajendram, went to diocese of Galle (southern Sri Lanka) where they worked with the Diocesan Centre for Social, Economic and Development Education. Projects were run in Deniyaya and Hambantota districts, about three hours’ drive from the city.

In the district of Hambantota, the volunteers helped teach two villages to build bio-sand filtration tanks, in the hope that they could replicate this system in other villages. The volunteers worked alongside the women, both young and old, in the washing of the gravel and sand. While the process of washing the sand can be tedious, it forms an essential part to the system as the materials form a natural filter in which water is made potable. The community also learnt from the volunteers how to assemble and fit together the bio-sand tank using PVC pipes and a large tank.

The next worksite was in the hilly region of Deniyaya. There, the team helped to build houses and tried their hands at laying bricks for the walls. Every now and then, the team was treated to tea and food, mostly contributed by the locals, who gave much from the little they had.

“This trip to Sri Lanka allowed me to witness the universal language of love,” said Mr Gabriel Chek, 23, a student at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. He added that it helped him appreciate the blessings which he takes for granted in Singapore, such as clean water and shelter.

Team leader, Ms Sivamalar Kulasegaram, a teacher in her 40s, shared that she was impressed with the gotong royong (mutual aid) spirit among the villagers and the staff of SED Galle, working together to improve the lives of the community. She said she was especially touched by the way Fr Michael dealt with the villagers in a gentle and loving manner.


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