Sri Lanka 2013 Pilgrimage by Corrine Brown
Most of Sri Lanka's south west & south east coastal areas were badly affected or destroyed in the December 2004 tsunami.
Recovery has been slow - even in August/September 2013 when we visited, this island country is still suffering, from broken coral beds to small numbers in tourism.
Sri Lanka is mainly Buddhist followed by Christians, Hindus and Muslims hence you will see many stupas, Buddhist temples as well as churches, Hindu temples and mosques - an interesting mix of religion all (apparently) harmoniously living together.
As with our other personal yearly pilgrimages for the greater good in reconnecting with the Self, cleanse and recharge the soul and spirit, we have taken the lessons learnt and the joy in giving through these philanthropic experiences to continue our personal commitment to share with others less fortunate than ourselves, with unconditional love and gratitude.
Lipsticks, lip glosses, lip balms, hats, caps, pens, glitter pens, pencils, colour pencils, note pads, koala key chains, teddies, ink stamps, face paints, paint sets, skirts, blouses, dresses, shirts, T-shirts and sandals (all 30kgs) were donated to the locals from age 2 months to 85 years, males and females alike; at fishing villages, farm villages, local schools etc. Cash was donated at smaller local temples and churches. Some goodies as well as a cash donation went into supporting a local Montessori school which had very poor facilities for the children.
We had a van and driver; and stopped at places where tourists would not have gone or been. The opened bag of goodies sat in the back of the van and soon enough, we had to close it as everyone was rushing to get to it. At one stage in the High Country, the tea pluckers were so quick with hands opened for gifts - some even came back for seconds, thirds (and fourth).
We stopped at a few waterfalls, lakes and rivers where the locals were having their baths. When we spot a couple of children, we offer them the gifts, but soon before you know it, the entire tribe and village stands before you, overwhelming you with their outreached hands. There was also a family bathing in the drain waters by the roadside. We felt we had intruded upon their daily bathing routine but they were pleased to receive our gifts.
We also gave gifts through the windows of our van on days that were raining. We soon learnt that the rain does not bother them as kids were running up to the window, soaking wet and standing in the rain waving us goodbye and thanking us, of course with huge smiles on their faces!
Not every Sri Lankan could speak English, so this was great as we used facial and body languages to communicate. The smiles on their faces say it all. Life is so simple for them and their genuine gratefulness in our gift shows their unconditional acceptance in receiving.
Our philanthropic pilgrimage reminds me of simplicity, humbleness and of unconditional love. It continues to ground me and brings to mind what really matters in life as the modern society can so easily take all that away, and you find yourself entrenched in the daily rigours of the stressful material world.
I re-affirm my gratitude every day for the basic needs of living - fresh air, clean water, pure food and unconditional love. It is no coincidence that previously on my Myanmar Pilgrimage last year, I was very unwell for the last 5 days. This time, I was unwell a week before leaving for Sri Lanka - a cleansing on all levels. Cleansing on an energetic level cleanses the physical body and vice versa - that's the power of spiritual healing.
My words of love to all - everything I wish for myself, I wish for you. Create today every day. Blessings.
Special thanks to Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Volunteer Department for some of the above donations and to those who contributed gifts and money towards purchasing some of the above items as well as for temple donations….you know who you are!
View photos of the Sri Lanka 2013 trip