Updates from our roving Reg in Sri-Lanka
how's it going?
This is my regular group email as I haven't given a good update for a while. As I mentioned I was planning to send last night whilst waiting for my flight- but it was delayed for more pressing issues at the airport!
Since New Years eve at Galle face I seem to have been working pretty hard doing my research in toxicology. It's good because I really want to make some progress with it this year. The work of self poisoning and self harm is challenging and it's really opened my eyes to a few things. In particular, I've become aware of many of the social problems such as lack of coping strategies that are prevalent within the poorer communities. It's also made me realize how much harder it is to practice medicine when the health sector has very limited resources – a lot of the tests we take for granted in New Zealand just aren't freely available in some of the peripheral hospitals such as Polonnaruwa where I've been spending a lot of my time recently. It's been challenging but interesting work.
As for Sri Lanka in general, I'm still loving it! However, I'm missing my family and old friends who are in Australasia. Thus I'm heading back to New Zealand and Australia at the end of the week for a short break including spending a couple of weeks at ANU in Canberra where my degree is based. I would love to catch up with everyone if possible but I've only got a short period of time in each place so sorry if we don't meet!
My schedule will be roughly as follows - This is the main purpose of my email now :- (if I wasn't going anywhere I'd probably not have written for several months again –I'm getting slack these days!)
I'm heading back to New Zealand via Hong Kong –(and hopefully catching up with an old school friend there – right Narly?). My first objective in New Zealand is to see my dad receive his NZ merit award on March 29th as he was on the 2007 merit list for Community service with the Sri Lankan community in New Zealand and service with Rheumatology in New Zealand over the years – well done Thathi - I'm looking forward to the ceremony!
I'll be in Wellington from 27th March until 3rd April – I would really like to catch up with everyone but time is limited that's why I'm thinking of doing the usual "drinks at Havana" on Saturday 31st March – so keep it free! Thereafter I'll go down to Dunedin for 3 days to catch up with my little bro Suresh at Otago! And also I'll be having a mini reunion with Jarad (and perhaps Deano too!) – and Nic and Dave so far.
From 7th of April to 15th I'll be with Yosanta and Sandra in Brisbane. Thereafter I'll be spending 2 weeks in Canberra catching up with my MPhil supervisor Nick, staying with Darren and spending some time at ANU doing some study and some ED work.
Medical School Reunion
For those of you who are my medical school classmates and haven't realized yet – this year is our 10 year batch reunion – yes we are old buggers! As I've even heard through the grapevine (internet) that people are expecting me to organize something – Ha ha your right! But what I had in mind was a "Virtual" reunion so I've set up a google group for all the classmates from 1992-1997 can keep in touch. It'll need major audience participations and will rely on the snowball effect – so forward this link on to people and ask them to join!
Googlegroup http://groups.google.com/group/class_of_97_Otago_10yrReunion?lnk=li&hl=en <http://groups.google.com/group/class_of_97_Otago_10yrReunion?lnk=li&hl=en>
My Debut performance in Kandyan dancing
A couple of days ago was my debut stage performance in Kandyan dancing. I have been learning the "Uda Rata" (Up country) dance from my Guruthuma "Mr Lionel Sirena" for the last year. I performed the "Hanuma Wanama" – otherwise known as the "Monkey Dance" at the Sri Lanka Medical Association doctors concert. I has such fun – my Professors were there as well as all my friends – and it felt great to dance on stage in the traditional Kandyan outfit!
I've just discovered UTube which is great so I will try and upload a video clip of the dance in due couse!
(this isn't the dance but just a couple of test videos that I've uploaded already – one of them is me on the back of a bike at going from Polonnaruw a Hospital to the study house, and the second one is a Hikkaduwa surf clip!)
Sri Lankan Political update
Unfortunately no update email would be complete without a thought to the ongoing political situation. Sadly there is still fight in the North and the East and there are people suffering as a result of it. (And there terrorist attacks that are intermittently occurring in Colombo as I experienced this morning!)
However, looking towards progress and change, I have notice more and more discussion websites about Sri Lanka's political problems. Last year I looked for such forums to try and promote peace and didn't find them easily. This year I can. This has to be a good thing. Recently one my second cousins, Sam De Silva, had a launch of a documentary called "Circles of Violence" which was a documentary about Sri Lanka's ethic and political problems which was in my opinion a very brave but necessary venture (film trailer @- http://culture2.org/cov/trailer.htm
There were hundreds of people at the viewing, and there was a group discussion thereafter. I thought he did a good job overall there are some viewers comments ( I've written some of my views on the film and this topic on this site (my comments are last so you'll have to scroll down if you are interested http://www.groundviews.org/2007/03/01/circles-of-violence-%e2%80%93-going-round-and-round/
StayPositive, its easy to be cynical – this is my advice to myself and others
Through these troubled times, no matter how hopeless the situation sometimes looks (especially when there is ongoing fighting such as what people experience in the North and East, and the what I experienced first hand tonight even in Colombo) –– I think we have to stay positive and focus on the progress. I am skeptical of violence leading to cessation of violence, and even for an eternal optimist such as myself, it can be demoralizing to see what is happening! But I still think we have to stay positive and look and believe that we will see the days when this problem is resolved - after all if we loose hope of ever finding a solution how can we expect one to arrive!
Sometimes there is progress being made on some dimensions, but we are so focused on the lack of progress, and get demoralized by this at the same time, that we fail to recognize any progress and we end up wanting to give up. At the recent scientific sessions I attended I heard about the Millenium Development goals of 2000 with regards to improving health care in the poorest countries. Whilst some countries (particularly Africa) are doing badly there has been progress in things like reduction of global poverty and increased assisted deliveries leading to less maternal death in other areas of the world like South East and Eastern asia ( the report is freely available on the net and I urge you to have a look – it's pretty interesting! http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/Progress2006/MDGReport2006.pdf
). I don't think we should pat ourselves on the back and stop there, but I think it is useful to at least recognize progress no matter how little it may be and use it to motivate us further, rather than just say "oh its all just hopeless!".
Anyway, as usually a short email has become a long one, but I just thought I'd put my thoughts down for you if you are so interested. I hope you enjoyed (if you had the time to read it all!)
Well gotta go and pack now– Take care
I hope you are all well and Happy in your respective corners of the globe!
Humanity is diversity
Diversity is Humanity
Thus, let us respect each others diversity, live in unity and harmony, without violence"
"One Sri Lanka", equal rights irrespective of race, religion or gender"
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P.P.P.S enjoy these pics as well!