Think Globally

Sustainable aid for tsunami stricken Sri Lanka

Visiting Sri Lanka for talks with the Centre for Environment andDevelopment (CED) on the formation of an Eco-village with right livelihoods, trustee Owen Fenn and Administrator Pip Richards watched this disaster unfold and were lucky to escape.


Over the years we have continued to help in small ways. The Saga Charitable Trust have extended the project and we have been concerned with providing trees with edible fruits for relocated families, education around lowering carbon footprints and solar power. The Centre for Environment and Development (CED) contributed to ‘Advancing Sustainable Consumption in Asia’ a guidance manual published by the United Nations Environment Programme, ISBN 92-807-2639-0

When the waves came in, coastal villagers lives were changed in minutes. As well as the sudden huge loss of life, houses were smashed, livelihoods destroyed, precious possessions lost, and a great fear, previously unknown, descended on the people. The train at Peraliya, on the south west coast was washed away killing 1700 people. Within days, aid from every developed country in the world was centred on this site.

Pip and Joe of Sustrust, took refuge in the jungle near here. They were recipients of such selfless and happy care by a community in ruins that they decided to return with help when they could. The Sustainable Trust raised £4,000. Cornish ‘green’ businesses, groups and individuals helped. Robotmother, carbon neutral developers, Helston and the Lizard Friends of the Earth, the Cornwall Paper Company, Ground Force cycling group and the Longmead Trust, local food producers, donated. We covered our own travel and living expenses. Together with our partners in Colombo, Sri Lanka, we aimed at improving the conditions and wages of the coir workers in one village with this relatively modest sum of money.

A real need was identified in the course of this work. The dispirited villagers had lost their sense of community and there was no cohesion between people of different age groups and abilities. A house abandoned after the tsunami was identified as a centre for the village. With the help and encouragement of the Centre for Environment and Development, the youth, children and elders got together to clear the garden, lay water pipes, sand and paint a house hit by the waves. It is now used as a development centre.


  • A Village Council has been created
  • Water storage and distribution is improved
  • The Coir industry has been revived, and a micro credit system initiated.
  • A village Youth and Sports Development Club has been formed.
  • 50 children became members of the Better World Childrens Club and had bank accounts opened for them.
  • Three families were given small grants to complete their homes.
  • An Entrepreneur Programme for the youth was established for a TV and Electronics Repair Shop, an electrical workshop and a small tailors shop giving employment.
  • The Community Development Centre was cleaned and repaired and a meeting room organised with 50 chairs, a library and first aid facilities.
  • A ‘World Environment Day’ celebration with tree planting and help planning home gardens was held. At a college nearby, we raised funds from the SagaTrust to repair the damaged gate. 5,000 people sheltered here during the days following the tsunami.