March 17, 2012
PWRDF currently has a nine-member delegation visiting the Organization for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR) in India and Sri Lanka as we continue to accompany the Tamil refugees OfERR serves as they begin the process of returning to Sri Lanka from India. The members of the delegation are acting as guest bloggers on the PWRDF blog. Today’s post comes to us from Frances Stewart, PWRDF Diocesan Representative, Diocese of Brandon.
Veterans of night-train travel arrive back in Chennai at 5:30 am. The grounds of the YWCA International Guest house are still fragrant from night flowers. Shower, clean clothes, unpack backpack, hand laundry.
Adele, Suzanne and Janet have early morning meetings.
At 9:30 am we leave for the 7-acre Nallayan Farm – 35 kms away through a maze of traffic and pedestrians. We pass imposing government buildings, temples, schools, food stalls, luxury shops, homes of every description. We glimpse the famous Chennai beach – miles long but not on our itinerary.
A warm welcome at the farm where we meet Theresa de Haan from the Canadian High Commssion. She is also a guest of OfFER representing the Canadian Government.
We see the 20 or so concrete tanks where spirulina algae is produced with exacting methods pioneered by OfERR. First as a nutrition supplement and income generating program for refugee camps. Now the methods and simple technology are shared at no cost to OfERR’s Indian neighbours and people world-wide.
We drink spirulina mixed with pineapple juice. Refreshing and healthy. Check out www.oferr.org for the full scoop of this Miracle Food/supplement. It arrests the spread of viral infections, notably HIV and dengue fever. And we buy all manner of spirulina products to take home. Look-out Anglicans, spirulina is coming to a town near you!
Cameras are snapping pictures of the sign thanking PWRDF for supporting the development of the Spirulina production.
The farm is self-sustaining and provides training to refugees plus some of the food for the OfERR staff and volunteers in Chennai.
Cattle, goats, guinea fowl look us over. Cody talks turkey with a large one. We look over the biogas operation, solar panels, hay, and a water plant mixed with livestock rations.
Sadly, nearby bottled-water production has lowered the water table. The farm now buys water to irrigate its rice paddies.
Then we head inside to an airy hall. It’s hot. Thank heavens there is no humidex indicator to scare us. Representatives from about 20 camps have gathered to share ideas, concerns and hopes. Many have lived in Tamil Nadu for over 20 years. Others are newer arrivals. Speakers are passionate. Body language says a great deal as we wait for the English translations.
Late lunch and a trip back – this time through ‘rush-hour’ traffic. At the OfERR Office members of youth programs perform skits on their concerns. We are touched. Then it’s the formal debriefing with our hosts. They have guided us and been at our sides.