Skipping meals, cutting down on nutritious food, queuing up for long hours in the extreme heat for fuel, losing sleep with stretching, and daily blackouts – everyday life has become a struggle for millions of Sri Lankans. The spiraling economic crisis has led to extreme food shortages; about 6.26 million lack access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food, according to the latest data released by the World Food Program.
One of the most significant economic earners, the tourism sector, has collapsed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agricultural sector took a heavy blow with the country’s ban on fertilizer imports. It is heartbreaking to witness the events that are unfolding in Sri Lanka. Countless families, including children, new mothers, and pregnant women, continue to go hungry as affordable food increasingly becomes scarce. They couldn’t afford a meal for a day.
Responding to the immediate needs in the country, we launched the ‘Community Kitchen’ initiative in partnership with Local Community Institutions. We delivered the first round of life-saving food assistance in early July. The initiative was new, and we experienced various challenges in the beginning and quickly adapted from the learnings to improve our initiatives. To date, we have organized eight ‘Community Kitchen’ programs across the country and fed over 1,750 people.
A critical learning of the initiative was local fundraising. We tapped into the collective consciousness of the passionate Christian community and volunteers to raise funds locally, which resulted in tremendous success. Leveraging the cross-border partnerships and spreading the word through our regional networks, we have raised over LKR 19,66,292 (~ USD 5500) in Sri Lanka and India.
Compelled by love and the desire to help, the people of Sri Lanka continue to give money to support the Community Kitchen initiative. In the coming months, we expect to receive continued support in the region to organize more ‘Community Kitchen’ initiatives.
We have also stepped up our training efforts to reshape Christian understanding of poverty. Recently, we organized a second cohort and coached more than 40 young leaders on the biblical understanding of economic security, poverty, inequality of possessions, a worldview of health, and the role of business in the church to create a life full of abundance for others.
Please continue to join me in praying for Sri Lanka and our team responding to this crisis.