Kay Street was first introduced to Farms by Sue and David Jackson who served with Baptist Missionary Society in Sri Lanka.
Farms is about micro projects; small schemes worked through with a family or individual aimed at increasing their income and improving their health. By giving small loans and teaching people new skills, individuals are able to generate an income which benefits their family, their church (through tithing), their locality and ultimately their country.
Di and David Isherwood were the first Kay Streeters to visit Sri Lanka and meet Farms General Manager, Clarence Mendis. They saw a sewing project, where money had been loaned to buy a sewing machine, a small pottery making rustic pots for local use and a carpentry enterprise. Other projects included raising chickens, growing palm trees and various retail enterprises, ranging from a lady selling individual packets of coffee, to a very small local shop. The amounts loaned, very small by British standards, range from £25 to £150.
George and Anne Boyer (Amy and Jennifer's parents) visited Sri Lanka twice. Each time meeting up with Clarence Mendis and bringing back with them batik items made by Mr Lal and sewn by his wife. The colourful table cloths we use for Inform lunches were hand made by Mr and Mrs Lal.
When the Tsunami struck Sri Lanka on Boxing Day 2014, Clarence and his team were able to respond really quickly and use the money donated by Kay Street to help the survivors. He did this by asking simple questions:-
Day 1 "What do people need? They need clean water, and medical supplies".
Day 2 "What do people need? They need cooking pots and money to bury the dead."
Trained in disaster management Clarence offered help to both Christians and Buddhists; the major faith in Sri Lanka. Since then he has given this training in Nepal, India and the Maldives.
The tsunami is not the only disaster to hit Sri Lanka, from 1983 to 2009 there was civil war, with the North and East of the island being claimed by the Tamil Tigers. After many years of bitter fighting, government troops prevailed and peace was declared. No one knows how many died in the fighting but it could be that there are 80,000 war widows, many destitute with no means of support. There is no welfare system in Sri Lanka, no widows' pension, no child benefit, no universal credit!
WHAT ARE THE NEEDS NOW?
Mrs Lydia, a war widow and her 10 year old daughter Sonia, have been helped by Farms to keep chickens. They now know how to feed and protect their chickens. They now have eggs for themselves and eggs to sell to their neighbours. Mrs Lydia is now able to afford to send Sonia to school.
Farms would like to be able to help many more widows and their children.
7 years ago Farms startedgiving English classes to the children of very poor families living in Moratura. This led to Farms providing wood, corrugated iron and other building materials so that the shanty homes, lived in by the families, could be improved.
Farms would like to be able to offer more help to these and other families.
In 2016 Farms received "island wide" requests from many agencies, for books for under privileged children. Responding to this request in 2016 Farms gave out 2,454 packs of books to children. Even more will be given out this year .
Farms would like to give out even more packs of books to children in 2018.