SRI LANKA: Island Nation Paradise Rapidly Growing Hungry

By R. Pieris, Colombo

At the beginning of 2022, Sri Lanka was like any other nation in the South Asia region: inflation rates were higher than experts would like them to be, but stable politically, socially and economically. Our paradise of an island had many issues over the years, but people loved living here, after all, it is our home. But since April, all of Sri Lanka’s past mistakes, the wrong decisions, the ill-timed decisions, corruption of leaders, impact post COVID hit in full force as our nation uses the last of its foreign reserves which doesn’t even cover the cost of essential goods.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst ever economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, and except for maybe 2-3% of our population, everyone suffers the consequences of fuel shortages, gas shortages, the prices of goods rising at least once a week, food shortages, electricity cuts, medicine shortages etc.

Credit Image: dw.com

The lack of finances to purchase imports directly results in a massive shortage of food, and also the prices increase due increases in fuel costs, electricity costs etc. Many people and many families have resorted to having two meals a day now, and some to one. Increasing number of patients dying because they could not find fuel, diesel or petrol or a vehicle with plenty fuel to get the patient to hospitals, especially newborns. Friends and relatives look for particular meds for someone they know, and by the time they get it, the patient has already passed away.

In terms of food in particular, Sri Lanka is forecasted to face a huge crisis because the harvest of the last season has dropped dramatically because of the infamous fertilizer mess up, but even at present, a lot of families more than half of the community struggle to make ends meet and cannot imagine prices going higher than this.

Students, especially most university students, struggle financially as they contemplate giving up their studies to provide for their family. They are faced with a harsh life choice since their daily budget has gone up more than three times the usual amount which they used to pay and hence they tend to cut down costs by cutting down meals etc. Organizations have turned to benefactors and sponsors to ask for money to give in scholarships to sustain students as much as they could.

Credit Image: The Indian Express

Just yesterday, a mother who stole a breadfruit from a tree and sold half to get half a kilo of rice for her child, was arrested. Crime, robberies, suicide and emotional distress rates have also gone up, as people are voicing their displeasure and discomfort in different forms as many of us feel that we’ve been robbed: of our futures, of having a comfortable and affordable life.

Through my own personal experience, food prices are 3 or more times above what it used to be at the beginning of this year, and bus fares are 6 times more than what they were back then. Most of the food items in stores are either empty or quite hefty in price. Communities in Sri Lanka are slowly going hungry and also will be facing long term consequences health wise for eating unbalanced diets resulting in malnutrition, and by eating less number of meals (which is quite common now) will result in starvation.

However, we as Sri Lankans between hardships will always stand strong, and we truly appreciate the genuine help we receive as a nation from the international community. This crisis has taught us to be more sensitive to everyone around us, to recognize their needs, even the unspoken ones. May Sri Lanka get to stand up strong on her feet again soon, and may God bless Lanka with his divine providence.

Sri Lanka Mourns for its Future

By Jayani Randima Marasingh

What’s the current Situation in Sri Lanka? Our country is in the midst of one of the worst economic and political crises ever seen. Our country has just defaulted on its foreign debts for the first time. The country’s 22 million people are facing crippling 12+ hour power cuts, and an extreme scarcity of food, fuel and other essential items such as medicines. Due to this the people of Sri Lanka had to wait in long queues to get their essentials such as fuel and gas.

Sometimes people who have been queuing for such a long time have received nothing; this caused a huge hindrance to the Education in Sri Lanka; shortages have scaled to such heights that examinations for examinations for millions of students in the country had to be postponed due to lack of paper and ink.

Credit Image: The Indian Times

Around five elderly people have died after collapsing in queues. Fuel shortages have led to long lines at petrol stations and rolling power cuts across much of the country. A serious shortage of diesel has shut multiple thermal power plants causing rolling power cuts across the nation. The sudden rise in prices of commodities has pushed up inflation to record levels. Job losses have become a common phenomenon in almost every household. Besides, fall in earning has led to rise in poverty.

The cost of living is rising day by day and the number of people who are unable to continue their lives is increasing daily. But I have never seen politicians in these queues; they have everything; They are rich. This is one of the major weaknesses of our country.

How Sri Lanka fell into its worst Economic Crisis?

The Rajapakse family and their supporters/backers were the main reason for why our country was soon plunged into such a crisis. In 2021, the Rajapaksa government, with the aim of moving toward 100% organic agriculture, chose to ban chemical fertilizers. This decimated farmers’ yields, more so in the rice and sugar sectors. In a bid to revitalize the economy, the government cut taxes.

Credit Image: BBC

When the economy started dwindling, the Rajapaksa government not only resisted aid from neighboring countries but also held off talks with IMF (International Monetary Fund) and Rajapakses robbed innocent people’s money since 2004 and they showed no sympathy for the helpless people in Sri Lanka. Rajapakse’s chose violence. All the politicians who have ruled the country for 72 years should responsible for this bad situation in our country.

Protesters?

The Sri Lanka protests are a series of ongoing protests in Sri Lanka against the Government of Gotabaya Rajapakse. Protesters have taken to streets to show their anger and displeasure over the mismanagement of the economy by the government. The main demand of the protesters is that the government run by the Rajapakse regime immediately resign and paving the way for a completely new set of qualified democratic rulers.

Credit Image: CNN

Protesters have commonly chanted slogans such as ‘Go home Gota’, ‘Go home Rajapakses’, ‘Give us our stolen money’, etc. These protesters have mainly been staged by the public, including teachers, school/university students, religious leaders, priests (the nuns and reverends stood in the frontline to prevent the police from attacking the peaceful protesters), doctors, social activists, sportsmen, engineers, farmers, IT professionals, artists, retired soldiers etc… without any direct political affiliation.

The young generation of our country has played a major part in carrying out protests at Go home Gota village (Gall Face Green). Sometimes these peaceful protesters were unlawfully arrested by police officers. These protesters have the right to demonstrate peacefully. This protest has become a rare sight of national unity with all communities in Sri Lanka. That’s the best thing. These protests are still ongoing island wide. These protests brought about some political changes, for example the resignation of the former Prime Minister, former Minister of Finance, etc. These protesters present their protest very peacefully and artistically.

No one knows when our country will be better off. Until then we are with the struggle.

Victory for the Struggle!

Reflection on “Basic Knowledge on the Lay People in the World”

Reflection on “Basic Knowledge on the Lay People in the World”

by Jayani

Hello everyone. I am Jayani from Sri Lanka. First of all, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in the course “Basic Knowledge on the Lay People in the World” being held through the ALL Forum. Although I am studying for degree in Christianity at first I did not have a good understanding regarding Lay Theology, but after attending to this course I was able to gain a better understanding of Lay Theology.

This course had eight sessions. By participating in this course I had the opportunity to study new topics each week. Topics such as who is laity?, Aparecida document, historical signposts in the making of laity, Catholic/Ecclesial movements, Liberation of the Laity, Gaudete eat Exsultate by Pope Francis, etc. When we focused on Aparecida document, I learned about Kingdom of God. Besides I was also able to learn how to promote human dignity and how to put it into an action. Apostolical Actuositatem is the second Vatican council decree on the apostolate of the Laity. This was an important resource for this course. We discussed about different Catholic movements around the world. Gaudete et Exsultate is the third apostolic exhortation of pope Francis. It addresses the universal call to holiness, with a focus to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time. This course also focused on the various encyclicals presented by the Pope Francis.

I decided to take this course to gain a broad knowledge of this subject. The most highlighted event of this course was the group discussion. Because it enabled me to gain knowledge as well as share our ideas with members in other countries. Through this group discussion it was also possible to know others social information.

All these lessons were very well explained by Ms. Kochurani. Here I express my heartfelt thank to her. I would like to thank Mr. Neilan who managed this course very well. I also appreciate the support received from members in other countries for the successful completion of this course. Overall, this course was a great success! Thank You!