Newsletter May/June 2021.
Unfortunately, all schools in Sri Lanka were still closed in May and June. It is not yet known when they will reopen. Fortunately, the number of infected cases of Covid-19 has decreased drastically. At the end of June, however, this was still an average of 1500 infections and 50 deaths per day. After being in a lockdown for almost 6 weeks, the expected relaxation came on June 21. That was nice because then the teachers and matrons could come back to school to give the buildings and the garden a good clean. One of the staff members got corona and also her parents and brother. They have to spend 3 weeks in a quarantine center. However, there were 2 other staff members who were in isolation and therefore could not come. Traveling between provinces is also still prohibited.
The monsoon period was intense this year. In May, we faced a severe hurricane called “Yaas”. Due to the excessive rainfall, floods and landslides occurred in various places in the country, especially in the major rivers. 16 people were killed and 200,000 people were temporarily, (many permanently) homeless. A large group of them still live in temples and schools and are cared for by the government. A few students also had to deal with flooding at home.
Sri Lanka suffered the worst environmental disaster ever in May. A Singapore container ship carrying 1,750 containers with also nitric acid and oil caught fire during the hurricane in Sri Lankan waters. The ship’s location was 18 km east of Negombo. Soon all kinds of toxic substances, cosmetic items, plastic balls etc. washed up on the beautiful tourist beaches over a distance of 80 km. Hundreds of dead rare turtles, dolphins, whales and fish followed. The beaches are inaccessible and are still being cleaned by the Army and environmentalists. Fishing is not allowed for the time being because of all the toxins in the seawater and in the fish. The fishermen receive compensation from the government.
3.5 million people in Sri Lanka have now been vaccinated against Covid-19. At the moment there are sufficient vaccines available, so that all staff of schools will soon have their turn. We hope that the schools will open again soon after that. During this period, our deaf students receive their homework via the Whatsapp of their teachers. Not all parents have a mobile phone, which is why we have been able to arrange that they can be reached via the mobile phone of an uncle, a neighbor or friend from their village. This works better than expected and everyone is happy with this solution!