We traveled with Intrepid Travels to visit the culturally rich highlights of Sri Lanka, including Buddhist Temples, World Heritage Sites and beautiful beaches. The trip also included a visit to one of the 2012 WFTD’s sponsors fair trade project, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap’s subsidiary fair trade and organic coconut oil project, Serendipol.
Serendipol has proven to be a successful Fair Trade and Organic Coconut Oil Project that supports hundreds of communities and is dedicated to ensuring their entire supply chain is fair and environmentally sustainable. From the small farmers they buy their coconuts from to the workers at the processing facilities to the fair trade fund taken from premiums paid and used for community development projects, Serendipol has been a positive force for sustainable development in Sri Lanka. (Soon after my visit, Serendipol and Dr. Bronner’s were featured in a Time article describing how farmers often do not benefit from the resurgence in coconut’s popularity.)
When Dr. Bronner’s purchases coconut oil from Serendipol a fair trade premium is added in order to support community development projects. To decide on which projects to undertake in the communities a community based committee was formed of farmers, farmworkers and processing workers. Some of these projects we visited included the following:
An Ayurvedic Clinic in the local community sees 45 patients per day and staffs roughly 14 people. When we were visiting they had just finished a treatment using leeches to cure varicose veins
A community lake that had been cleaned up so that people could start to use it for daily activity. Lakes in Sri Lanka are known as meeting places where people can enjoy good conversation, cleaning clothes and bathing.
Electricity for 60 houses. Pictured are some of the happy recipients in one community that electricity had been supplied for by the fair trade fund.
Sri Lanka is a country rich in history and diverse in different religions: Buddhism, Hindi, Catholicism and Muslim and all the religions live in peace together, but this has not always been the case. Sri Lanka is also a country that has seen civil war and massacres of 10’s of thousands of innocent civilians. The war between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers ended just a few years ago in 2009. The UN pulled out of civilian areas when they should not have leaving thousand of innocent civilians dead. Civilians were going on hunger strikes to ask the UN not to pull out as they needed protection but to no avail.
Bruno our tour guide from Intrepid Travel (voted best tour guide of the year in 2010) gave our group of 12 a cultural experience to remember, and an endorsement even from this historically lone traveler.
Next year for WFTD 2013 we will be taking winners of the Sweepstakes to Peru to visit with Alter Eco and Equal Exchange’s projects with a side trip to Machu Picchu. Stayed tuned by signing up for our newsletter.