Seeds of Hope to Gardens of Potential
A story of International Community Development
Dawne Clark and Cassandra Skoworodko
What started as seeds of hope for the children of Sri Lanka after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 has turned into gardens of potential of community development. “Community development is the process of promoting change, helping a community strengthen itself and work toward its full potential.” The Janoda Centre and its programs in Hambantota District have grown significantly in the last six years from four acres of bare land and a vision to two buildings, one housing a variety of educational and community programs and the second a two room preschool for three and four year olds. The future is filled with potential and opportunities for continued growth and expansion. As with many gardens, some plants dried up and did not produce any fruit but the gardeners continue to be vigilant, pruning and caring for the promising plants and fruit. Hard work and vigilance are starting to be seen in the fruits produced.
In January 2005, students from the Bachelor of Applied Child Studies at Mount Royal University (MRU) in Calgary Canada wanted to help after the devastating tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean, December 24, 2004. The students decided to visit the country of Sri Lanka and see how their experience and knowledge could support recovery efforts. Professor Dr. Dawne Clark started the search for a partner organization in Sri Lanka that had similar goals as the Department of Child and Youth Studies at MRU. Often, organizations in North America assume that they know best how to help people in impoverished circumstances but there are organizations on the ground who have an intimate knowledge of the people and their needs because they are the people. What these existing organizations need is access to resources, whether it be knowledge, experience, or finances to begin to make significant progress in their goals.
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