The last week I was with Walter in Sri Lanka supporting Sarvodaya with the 3 year strategy plan for their new micro finance institute DDFC. We had a board meeting, many talks with the key people and developed the action plan for the upcoming year. It was great to be back and meet everybody again after 2 years. Wim passing away overshadowed the meeting.
Monday 28 is the official opening in Colombo with the first 8 branches. To generate more publicity they decided to open the others throughout the country the upcoming weeks. Wim was supposed to make a documentary about this. I am hugely impressed by all the work they have done the past 2 years. The loan portfolio is being managed now in a professional way, there is a new organizational structure, the internal processes are being optimized and last december they got the long anticipated permit of the National Bank.
After the celebrities of the openings I will be back to support them with their next steps. For me it’s always great to be there. You never know what you will encounter the next 15 minutes let alone your agenda for the next day. Flexibility and Presence are the personal attributes most in need. Next to that the country is astonishing beautiful (although I’ve seen this time only a small stretch of beach for 20 minutes) and the people feel like family. With Dr. Ariyaratne I went to the largest Buddhist bookshop in the world where he gave me the books to understand Buddhism at a deeper level. Sarvodaya is grounded in Buddhism and raised out of poverty thousands of villages throughout the country. Next to that they have hundreds of preschools, development centers, an institute of higher education, orphanages and a teenage mother shelter center.
For many years I pay the salary of the director and being there I know again why: smallest girl is 12 and pregnant, raped by a family member and put in the shelter by the court. Her life and that of her unborn are not safe.
The picture above is together with 81 year old Dr. Ariyaratne (the Gandhi of Sri Lanka) in front of his Stupa that he build last year for his mother. 51 relics of the Buddha are in cemented in the top of the temple. We prayed here for Wim.
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Thank you for the wonderful report – so nice to read.
THX Hans. And then I didn’t even mention that the bank is lead by Vinya Ariyaratne who feels guilty to get money for his work. He doesn’t like to be paid by the deposits of his (poor) customers so he goes to the USA to teach medicine at the Brandeis University once a year. He is a physician himself. This way he earns enough for his kids to study. Leading by example.