Dhanushka is one of the Sri Lankan youth that left the Kelani River Journey in 2011 with a sense of inspiration and empowerment to develop his own environmental initiative back in his local community. The 2011 Journey was led by ECO-V, and supported by Journeys for Climate Justice (JCJ), and took 25 local youth on a Journey down the Kelani River over 12 days to train, inspire and empower them to become the next generation of Sri Lankan eco-leaders. While recently visiting Sri Lanka as a JCJ volunteer, I had the privilege of visiting Dhanushka’s permaculture centre.
Dhanushka spends his time working, without pay, on building a permaculture education centre in his local village, where he is working to educate youth and communities about organic farming and sustainability. This will be an eco-tourism attraction and a hub for community education. Dhanushka hopes to develop it so that sustainable products can be grown and made for sale to the public. It will also become a source of organic seeds for the villagers.
The permaculture farm is situated closeby to Udawalewe National Park, in southern Sri Lanka, located on the boundary between Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones. This is an area that is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, including more severe rainfall events in the monsoon season, resulting in flash flooding and landslides, and prolonged periods of drought in the dry season.
Dhanushka’s ability to teach and give has been an important tool in his progress and in the development of the farm. Dhanushka has engaged twenty local school aged youth to form a working group to develop and expand the permaculture farm. After being supported and trained up to be a leader in sustainability through his involvement with Eco-V and the Kelani River Journey, Dhanushka is now creating more youth leaders himself. Dhanushka has also been a positive influence on the lives of the youths. One, in particular, was a very young alcoholic and heavy smoker until he became engaged with Dhanushka and the permaculture project. Now this boy does not smoke or drink, but has found a new addiction to conserving the environment.
Dhanushka spends half the time with these youth educating them about different aspects of the environment, and the rest of the time is spent actively working on the farm as its co-ordinator. However progress has been limited due to the fact that up until July 2012, he and his group of young volunteers had access to only one tool. I was privileged enough to go and stay with Dhanushka and witness first-hand how inspiring he is.
Before I began my volunteering in Sri Lanka, I had done some low key fundraising which raised $1, 500 to support projects there. When I visited Dhanushka and his amazing work, we put $95 of the raised funds towards some immediate costs required for the farm. This small amount purchased 10 essential tools, as well as notepads and pens to support the education of youth. It also purchased a DVD learning device for Dhanushka to show the students educational DVDs, covering topics ranging from eco-systems, to climate change and general conservation principles. This shows how such a small donation can support so much change. It would otherwise not be possible as these passionate young people do not have access to such funds.
Dhanushka is now in a position where he can make some substantial steps forward with the farm and with his group. He is very excited about the future possibilities for this area but there is a lot of work to be done and a lot more funds needed to further support this amazing and inspiring project.
General donations can be made to Dhanushka’s project through the JCJ website: http://journeysforclimatejustice.org.au/index.php/donate
Our Pozible fundraising campaign for the next youth journey is now live!!! Please follow this link to find out more and pledge your support: http://www.pozible.com/project/15721