Monday, March 26, 2012
Welikanda – a small island of despair in a relatively prosperous surround
In a spontaneous hastily arranged event, I asked Rajitha with whom we were staying the night, that we would like to meet some of his die hard supporters who went to bat for him in the recently fought Municipal Council Elections in Kandy, of which he was a candidate but failed to secure enough preferences to be elected to the Municipal Council.
So after the Bodhi Pooja at the Dalada Maligawa, where we were fortunate to get into the room where the sacred tooth relic is encased in the casket, we went to Welikanda. It was a hamlet of about 250 homes, in central Kandy, which was precariously appointed as it is liable to landslide. I was able to climb up to the home where the meeting was held, though it was a little dangerous negotiating some of the way due to the precipice on one side of a narrow path.
Most of the people were young male and female, who wanted to inform us of the conditions or lack of for the youth of the area, and the derelict state of their community hall, and the non-existent facilities for the sports club to operate in. Their grouse as is quite common is one where politicians at election time make promises, and once elected do not site the place nor honor any of their promises.
We went there merely to meet, but went away convinced that we had to do something for these people, as they gave the impression of being desperate for some help, with no one in authority they can turn to help them.
It was really a plea for help for basic things like some bats and balls for cricket and maybe a weight training set and some volley balls. We were also told that the local sports club with non-existent facilities had fielded a team to for athletics and did themselves proud. They were proud of their latent talent and bemoaned the lack of anyone able to identify this and take it to the next level.
One from a poor home, was unable to buy a pair of rugby boots, though he was an outstanding scrum-half at Vidyartha the school he currently attends. So we took note of that as something we must work on without delay to satisfy this basic need.
We were most warmly received, though none knew who or what we were about. These youth have no idea of politics or politicians. They do not read the newspapers nor do they watch any type of news on TV. Their TV viewing is restricted to Soaps, and all their knowledge is what they learn at school or in whatever job they happen to engage in. We promised to help without delay and begin a revival of the community spirit, which has drawn the people with a common purpose.