As you no doubt read Carmi's guest entry, you no doubt can understand our shock.
Last night, we arrived in Arugam Bay which is a beach area that was detroyed, not only by the recent war, but the Tsunami as well.
The majority of the projects we passed had signs along them, stating which International NGO had supported the project.
Ironically enough, the bridge that takes you into Arugam Bay from Pathuli was built by USAID. It's an amazing bridge, really smooth and well built. However, the roads on both sides leading up the bridge are horrendous. Not really sure how else to explain it. You can't go more than 10 miles per hour on them, they are so bad.
We spent the night in a hotel that was most likely build after the Tsunami, to help house all of the aid workers that were sent to the town. As we drove around, you can still see the devastation from the Tsunami. graveyards are still in shambles are there is a lot of property damage.
A positive highlight of being there was the food. When we arrived at the restaurant on the beach around 5 pm, they cook has slicing into 3 huge Tuna Fish. He had just purchased them from a local fisherman an hour ago and was about to grill them. Along with this delicious fish, there was the typical Rice and Curry.
Today, we met with people who are working on a Relief International Microfinance project. There were about 50 women, all who are responsible for their own CBO (Community Based Organization). Each had been successful in their own way, growning the amount of the loans they were given, but that has led to problems. They don't understand why there isn't more money available. They feel that since they need to provide $1000 loans, anyone who wants one should receive it, without having any issues. It's a major challenge for RI or any other organization that is going into the Microfinance projects.
It was interesting to learn as well, how these women are not only being dependent on RI for their loans, but are investing money themselves into the overall loans that people receive.
The majority of the women who have received these loans were devastated by the Tsunami and likely had nothing a few years ago. Now, however, they want to learn about expanding into new markets and how RI will help them accomplish that easily.
You can see their eagerness to succeed and their drive to continue developing themselves.
It was another incredible learning experience for me during this exchange.