Landing in Sri Lanka
I must have taken the shuttle from the airport to Colombo city at least twice yearly for the past four years since joining Episcopal Relief & Development, as part of my role in managing our programs in Sri Lanka. The 60-minute drive is generally spent reviewing my objectives for the trip, while getting acclimated to the overwhelming humidity. This time, however, as I arrived, I reflected on all my prior visits and the events that led to this particularly exciting trip.
Earlier this year, Episcopal Relief & Development began a new partnership with the Church of Ceylon (the Anglican Church in Sri Lanka) through its two dioceses. This will build the capacity of the church in reducing the risk to communities from disasters. The Church has always been first-responders in any emergency situation, be it a natural disaster or a human-made tragedy. Episcopal Relief & Development has been a key partner for the church in supporting diocesan disaster response efforts in the wake of floods, cyclones and other crises over the past several years, as well as the mass internal displacement of people during the final stages of the civil war in 2009, and of course, the significant multi-year relief and rehabilitation program following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
In each of these disasters, the Church has used its network of clergy and laity in the affected region to respond instinctively, and stood in solidarity with hurting communities. However, the church recognized that there was also room for better equipping their staff and personnel in delivering a more consistent approach – one that was more proactive and less reactive.
All this led me to this trip.