Thursday, 1 December 2011

Meeting with President of Sri Lanka

I had the privilege of a two hour breakfast meeting with Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka this morning. I am grateful to his DG of the media division,  Bandula Jayasekara for making this happen, and who was also at the breakfast.

 It was an opportunity to promote the work of Sri Lanka Red Cross, supported by IFRC and PNS. He particularly appreciated the work we have done in terms of providing large water pipelines, latrines and hygiene promotion in schools and communities. He is a staunch supporter of hygiene promotion and spoke of when he visits schools, he asks children what they would like to see improved, and they often say “better toilets and clean water.” We also discussed in detail the work Red Cross has done with the displaced population in the north and east and how livelihoods and economic development is crucial to provide employment.

President Rajapaksa is an inquisitive man who obviously values feedback from people who travel a lot in his country and wanted to know what my thoughts were about the development of Sri Lanka in the post-conflict era. I explained to him in detail about the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society post conflict recovery programme and of the 2000 owner driven houses we have constructed, and of the livelihood and water sanitation grants we provide as well. He expressed a sincere wish that we scale up our work in the north.

Here was I man a felt safe to ask difficult questions and I felt his feelings were mutual. Humanitarian diplomacy is about influencing decision makers and I know he genuinely listened to the challenges we face as a Red Cross Movement in Sri Lanka, and I know we can get more support and cooperation from the Government for our humanitarian work in the north and east. I felt I was also able to get across the viewpoint of the wider humanitarian community in terms of challenes of working in the north of Sri Lanka..

Vimala Rani with some of her children outside her new Red Cross funded house in Vivekanandanagar. She nows earns a living raising chickens and selling eggs. Photo: Bob McKerrow

I was able to present the situation of some very vulnerable people such as Vimala Rani the widowed mother of five in Vivekanandanagar, Thavarani  (left) the disabled mother in Krishnapuram with two children, and how the Red Cross programme in the north has given them houses, livelihoods, and they can now live in dignity and safety. I also spoke of Aranchalam the potter and Ramaiyah the icecream man in Kilinnochchi who we made a documentary on 14 months ago and have just produced a documentary showing the improvements in their livelihoods.

With his three sons being talented rugby players we discussed rugby and I presented him a pocket watch which commemorates 100 years of All Black rugby. He told me with a broad smile how his three sons attended the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and enjoyed it very much.

For me it was a pleasure to meet President Rajapaksa in his own house, over an informal breakfast and to have his son drop in to talk of the work he is doing for reconcilliation by taking musical concerts to Jaffna, and running sporting events and livelihoods in the north. His son is a well known rugby player so we digressed a little onto rugby.

A lighter moment with President Rajapaksa at the beginning of our meeting today.


Marja said...

Oh how great to get on one line with the president That will move you even more forwards. The houses look great and your photo with the president too. Did you tell him a joke on the last picture :)

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Thanks Marja, I think i was talking rugby. Enjoy the weekend.

oakleyses said...

tory burch outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, coach outlet store online, polo ralph lauren outlet, chanel handbags, true religion outlet, ray ban outlet, red bottom shoes, burberry outlet online, prada outlet, kate spade outlet online, nike free, polo ralph lauren, christian louboutin shoes, nike air max, christian louboutin outlet, coach outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, burberry outlet online, true religion, nike shoes, longchamp handbags, coach purses, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, oakley vault, tiffany jewelry, louis vuitton outlet, nike air max, prada handbags, coach outlet, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, gucci handbags, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, longchamp outlet, jordan shoes, michael kors outlet store, kate spade handbags, louis vuitton handbags, cheap oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin, longchamp outlet online, michael kors outlet online

oakleyses said...

chaussure louboutin, ralph lauren pas cher, nike free pas cher, burberry pas cher, guess pas cher, ray ban pas cher, converse pas cher, barbour, true religion outlet, tn pas cher, air max pas cher, sac louis vuitton, longchamp pas cher, louis vuitton pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, vans pas cher, nike roshe, nike air max, abercrombie and fitch, air jordan, nike free, louis vuitton uk, scarpe hogan, michael kors uk, mulberry, true religion jeans, nike air force, sac vanessa bruno, oakley pas cher, air max, nike roshe run, new balance pas cher, longchamp, north face, ralph lauren, lacoste pas cher, nike air max, hollister, ray ban uk, hermes pas cher, hollister, lululemon, michael kors canada, timberland, sac michael kors, louis vuitton, north face pas cher

oakleyses said...

canada goose outlet, asics shoes, giuseppe zanotti, soccer jerseys, soccer shoes, birkin bag, uggs outlet, bottega veneta, wedding dresses, reebok shoes, north face jackets, mcm handbags, ugg boots, babyliss pro, marc jacobs outlet, vans outlet, lululemon outlet, mac cosmetics, canada goose, herve leger, nike trainers, north face outlet, roshe run, beats headphones, longchamp, instyler ionic styler, valentino shoes, ugg soldes, insanity workout, p90x workout, ugg, jimmy choo shoes, canada goose outlet, abercrombie and fitch, nike huarache, ferragamo shoes, nfl jerseys, ghd, new balance outlet, chi flat iron, rolex watches, celine handbags, mont blanc pens, ugg outlet, hollister, uggs on sale

oakleyses said...

moncler, canada goose, links of london uk, air max, hollister canada, uggs canada, oakley, canada goose pas cher, swarovski jewelry, lancel, parajumpers outlet, juicy couture outlet, toms outlet, canada goose, montre femme, ray ban, replica watches, moncler, canada goose uk, coach outlet, swarovski uk, gucci, supra shoes, louboutin, baseball bats, pandora uk, moncler outlet, converse, nike air max, vans, louis vuitton canada, ralph lauren, moncler, pandora charms, pandora jewelry, thomas sabo uk, ugg, iphone 6 case, canada goose outlet, karen millen, hollister clothing, timberland shoes, moncler, juicy couture outlet, hollister, wedding dress, moncler, moncler, converse shoes