Thursday, 4 June 2009

A Recipe for Relief for Sri Lanka's Internally Displaced People (IDPs)

Questions of hygiene and nutrition: 
A father shares a cooked meal with his daughter in a camp
in Sri Lanka

You will have heard of the civil war in Sri Lanka.    A good friend who is a Networker  has passed to me the following information.  I have added relevant links, some photos and the video.  My friend says:

I am forwarding an e-mail some friends of ours sent from Sri Lanka. It describes a major project underway with Sarvodaya Shramadana and some of the top chefs in Sri Lanka, collaborating to not only feed the Internally Displaced People (IDP), but train some of the young people in the camp. The article includes the contact information for the person in charge for this program in Sarvodaya. 

Vinya Ariyaratne MD PhD
Executive Director
Sarvoydaya Shramadana Sangamaya

You already know about their wonderful work. They are an alternative, sustainable development movement that emphasizes the integration of spiritual values in social organization. They have bases in at least 15000 of the 25000 villages in Sri Lanka. This is probably the only organization I trust, where the money goes directly to the people. I have known the founder A. T. Ariyaratne for a long time now, and Vinya Ariyaratne, his son, is the director now. He is in charge of all their activities. Over the past several decades they have been involved in helping and building peace in the war areas.

The chef who seems to be the main person in this project, Gerard Mendis, is a top pastry chef in Sri Lanka, and has won awards in Europe. He was working in Hilton before, not sure if he is still there. It is quite touching that all these five-star chefs are getting together to do this.

Gerald Mendis: Hoping to train youth in culinary art

Of course, if you know organizations from overseas who would go directly and feed the people that would be wonderful too. However, I am aware that due to difficulties of security screening very few groups can be allowed into these areas. Do pass this on. As you can imagine, it is a monumental job for the government to feed such a huge number of people (said to be the biggest camp of IDP in the world), any help would be great. 

The elderly mother of one of our friends, who had been rescued by the Sri Lankan security forces and kept for a short while in this camp before being sent home to relatives, had said that it was difficult to get decent food. So I am hoping our efforts could help provide the kind of food Sarvodaya and the Chefs are planning, for all of the 300,000 people.

Thanks and God Bless,

Watching the Sarvodaya interview on TV last Friday.. 
Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne stated as follows.. 

"The cost of feeding 'one person' (in the Refugee Camps) 
'one meal a day' - is Rs 60/=

There are 300,000 refugees ... 
- my mind boggles.. 

IDP - (Internally Displaced Person).
Recipe for relief

From five star hotels to the IDP camps, members of the Chefs’ Guild have taken up the challenge to cook 30,000 meals a day. Chathuri Dissanayake reports:

For many of the 300,000 people living in the IDP camps in Wanni, a simple hot meal has become a luxury they hardly dare dream about. Wanting to make at least a little difference in the lives of these Sri Lankans who have seen so much suffering these past few months, the Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka has stepped in to help by doing what they know best - cooking.

The programme they will launch along with Give2Asia, and Sarvodaya, aptly named ‘Helping Hands’, will see members of the Chefs Guild cooking 30,000 meals a day for those in the IDP camps.

For the chefs more accustomed to working in the state-of-the art kitchens of the country’s five star hotels, this is indeed a challenge but they are more than willing to rise to the occasion.
When we saw what was happening and the situation in the camps we knew we had to step in and help in any way we could. Many of the people were donating dry rations and some were providing cooked food which has the likelihood of going bad. People who are cooking inside the camps have no technical knowledge or the experience needed to cook for a large number like 250,000 people. We have the technical knowledge and the experience and we thought we should share it with them and make their burden easier to bear,” said Chef Gerald Mendis, Chairman of the Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka.
“When the tsunami struck our shores, we stepped in and provided cooked meals to the affected people. Give2Asia was a partner there as well. I spoke to Sharadha de Saram, the Programme Consultant for Give2Asia Foundation and she immediately stepped on board and also suggested that we partner with Sarvodaya Foundation which is already providing food for the IDPs,” said Chef Mendis.
They went to work straightaway. “We set about implementing the programme as soon as we agreed on the concept. The day after the initial meeting we went to Vavuniya to assess what needed to be done,” said Sharadha.

The Chefs Guild plans to provide three meals a day for the 10,000 IDPs in Manik Farm camp Zone 2, Sarvodaya blocks 1, 4, 5, 8, 9. They have already made improvements to the community kitchens there.

Different menus have been planned and consideration will be given to nutritional aspects. The food is provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) whereas all the ingredients and improvements in the diet will be provided through donations from the public.

We have spoken to a number of hotels and hotel management companies such as John Keells Holdings and Jetwing Hotels and they have promised to help,” said Chef Mendis.

Eight chefs will go to Vavuniya every week and will cook in six community kitchens that have been set up in the blocks. "Our chefs have the capability to do anything with any food and create a good meal anywhere from five star conditions to a community kitchen so we can adjust to any situation," said Haleesha Weerasinghe, President of the Chefs Guild who will be going to the camps.

The Chefs Guild and Sarvodaya are appealing for donations of rice, dhall and spices- chillie powder, turmeric, roasted curry powder, coriander powder, goraka, cinnamon, Maldive fish, salt, mustard seeds and ginger for the project. For information contact Subasena de Silva at Sarvodaya on tel- 0777635015 or 2655110, or e-mail:
Cooking food for so many people is no easy task. We have to look at doing it systematically and we have to micro plan about issues such as quantities to prevent any possible wastage or shortage because the numbers in each zone are different. For this we need technical know how in cooking. This is where the chefs can come in a big way,” Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Executive Director of Sarvodaya said.
We are hoping to come up with a programme for these youth to be trained in cookery. So when they get out of the camp they will be able to make a career out of it. We lack the funds and are looking for donors to set up a proper programme,” Sharadha said.


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