We leave at 7am from the hotel and are making our way to the first of our community development projects, which is mainly a water purification center being built for a small local community. We are covering 93km’s today! Just to note the Tuk’s only travel at a max speed of 60km’s p/h.
As we head further into the central part of Sri Lanka, the roads change and the surroundings become more rural, picturesque and challenging to navigate on the Tuk. In many of the small towns we pass children come running out of their homes calling out to us to say hello and waving. There are monkeys, snakes, cows, and goats all visible along the way and the road is riddled with potholes, which is so bumpy in a tuk with hardly any suspension, but we soldier on.
We arrive at the charity center (very late) and are greeted by the entire town of approximately 100 people. It is amazing to see how the charity contributions made by you guys can have such an impact on the families in the town. They provide us all with lunch and refreshments which was greatly appreciated and needed after the mornings journey. We spend a few hours there talking with the families while they so proudly show us around the community and surroundings. I come to learn that due to the poor drinking water conditions, approx 300 people have died in recent times with various illnesses. The new purification plant will save many lives over the years to come and hopefully the next time I visit the town, this will be even more evident. The feeling is incredible and difficult to explain in writing.
With lunch having been sorted (string hoppers and curry), I decide to head to the next nearest town to talk with some of the business owners about digital payments.
This time, I immediately find stores accepting cards, however, it is concentrated to large supermarket chains, electronics and white goods. I continue walking in search of a small place for an afternoon tea or coffee but the only place I can find is an expensive restaurant. Knowing that this could be my only chance for dinner, I reluctantly stay and order food and a drink talking with the friendly staff who seem happy to have a visitor. Today in conversation with the local businesses owners, I find 75% or more of their trade is done in cash. One owner said to me ‘Cash is a way of lif
e in Sri Lanka’. I think about that statement all the way back to the hotel….