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[Sri Lanka]Sri Lanka staff visit to Japan

2018.3.27

In eastern Sri Lanka, Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) has been assisting livelihood program with rice and dairy farmers’ cooperatives in Trincomalee District Since 2011.

In 2017, PWJ began to bring our local staff to Japan for a study tour, activities include visiting organic farms, nursery schools, so that their experiences could improve our program in Sri Lanka. As a first delegation, our Program Manager, Geethanjali (Geetha), visited Japan as a first mission last March.

Geetha

Photo: “Geetha,” a program manager

When Geetha arrived to Jinsekikogen, a town in Hiroshima, where PWJ’s Headquarters is located, the temperature was below freezing at times. For Geetha, a visitor from Sri Lanka, where daytime temperature reaches over 30C (86F), she had never experienced such a cold weather. She also had a chance to see and touch the snow for the first time. “My family would be thrilled to see the photos of snow,” said excitedly.

Geetha then visited Tanabe Farm, a leading organic farming practitioner from Jinsekikogen. She was able to see the evidence of complete and still profitable organic farming, and found hope in enhancing organic farming for people’s better health in a sustainable manner in Sri Lanka too. When Geetha visited a nursery school, children welcomed her by saying “Ayubowan!” which means “hello” in Sinhala language. What a nice surprise! Geetha had a great opportunity to interact with Japanese school children, to learn and understand about early child development and nutrition education practiced in Japan.

Tanabe-san

Photo: “Tanabe-san,” Mr. Shinzo Tanabe who gives in-detail explanations about his field and facilities

Snow

Photo: “Snow,” There is few snow in Sri Lanka, and it was the first snow for Geetha to see and feel.

Nursery School

Photo: “Nursery School,” where children surround and give bunch of questions to the first Sri Lankan they ever met!

Her travel continued. In Shimane Prefecture, she visited a dairy co-op called “Kisuki”, it’s known as one of the early adaptor of organic farming for better cattle feed. Kisuki successfully persuaded its local municipality to introduce pure milk into primary school lunch program, instead of powder milk, and improved children’s nutrition status. Geetha felt that she gained insight for social entrepreneurship through the visit to Kisuki. She was especially impressed by how Japanese community health professionals have approached and outreached mothers, in order to improve people’s nutrition and health, especially children’s. Although food culture, family identity, and development stage of Sri Lanka differ from those of Japan, Geetha felt there were mutual issues, burdens and challenges in cherishing children’s lives in Japan and Sri Lanka.

Sixth Produce

Photo: “Sixth Produce,” the dairy outlet where fresh milk and dairy products are produced and sold

Ever since Geetha returned to Sri Lanka, she has been leading and managing nutrition program at preschool collaborating with community health professionals to improve nutrition and health of children, also providing close dialogue with mothers to enhance willingness to change their health seeking behaviors, for themselves and their children. Now PWJ supported co-op is providing fresh made yogurt to students and co-op members are very proud to be a part of this program to increase awareness for healthy diet for children.

Preschool programme

Photo: “Nutrition Program,” Geetha initiated nutrition and health education with a preschool teacher and children in Muthur Division, Trincolamee District.

Fresh Yogurt (1)

Photo: “Fresh Yogurt,” Preschool children enjoy fresh yogurts from local dairy farm after singing and practicing hand-washing.

Currently, our second delegation is traveling in Japan. PWJ continues to bridge to deepen the understanding and relationships between Sri Lanka and Japan because we believe such interaction helps our program to achieve better outcome.

This first delegation was funded by PWJ supporters. We thank you for your generous contributions to make this study tour happen.