SUBA UDE provides physical, creative and emotional projects for displaced persons living in welfare camps in Sri Lanka. We focus on psychosocial needs beyond food, shelter and medicine.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Happy New Year's!!

Wanna and I are being shipped out.  In one week we will be deployed to
the east coast district of Ampara.  We will spend the next 1.5 months
there working in 16 camps with  6,000 displaced persons.  This
predominantly muslim area was completely leveled.  Four-months after
the tsunami, even basic infrastructure is scarce.
This is going to be a challenge.

But no worries today, as it's Sri Lanka's New Year's!!

Based on astrology, new year's marks the beginning of something to do
with the stars' alignment.  I got up at 5 to get to the home of our
translator at the auspicious time of 5:30 am.  We helped cook a
traditional new year's meal.  At 6:48 am on the auspicious dot, we lit
a lantern while facing north and wished each other a Suba Aluth
Aurudak Awewa, as the sound of bursting fireworks resonated around the
neighborhood.  The mom scooped up some milk rice and with her right
hand, fed us each our first bite of food in this new year.  We then
fed each other while reciting a personal blessing.

At the next auspicious moment, the father presented us each with money
wrapped in a leaf.  We then wrapped our money in a leaf and presented
it back to him (tradition) and gave the family new clothes-it's a new
year's custom to get a new piece of clothing.  We piled into the
family car, which the mom sprinkled with lotus water, and headed to
the temple in the town center.  After placing lotus flowers in front
of Lord Buddha, we drove to the new (half-finished) home of a local
school teacher.  It is custom that those less fortunate invite
"luckier" folks to their home to be their first guests in the new
year.  I think it's to rub off some lucky energy.

They stuffed us with more milk rice, oil cakes and dried fish and I
did my best to rub off some luck.

Back in the car, teetering along the coastline, passing new year's
celebrations in living rooms without walls and tents where living
rooms once stood... returned to our hotel and saw something for the
first time- something cosmic.  Splashing in the water, amidst the
rubble/coral, was a group of village kids.  Blocking out the debris, I
could see this tropical paradise as it once was- an endless beach
lined with coconut trees and filled with fearless children.

Happy New Year!!

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