We’ve nearly been in Sri Lanka now for two weeks and our second stop was Kandy. For travellers (us included) this place is usually a quick one or two night stop off to explore Sigiriya and Dambulla.
Whilst in Kandy we stumbled upon the Sthree social enterprise which is one of the Women’s Development Centre projects. It’s purpose is to create a platform for small businesses, led by women and disabled individuals who through Sthree gain the opportunity to earn a steady income.
Sthree’s headquarters is located a few minutes walk from Kandy’s bus and train station. It has a shop that sells the products made by these disadvantaged women and a cafe which is run by an amazing chef and provides hospitality training to disabled women with the hope that they can leave Sthree employment and gain employment elsewhere.
Whilst in Kandy we ended up paying Sthree a visit three times. The first was for a bite to eat after our trip to Sigiriya. We had curry and rice and a delicious cinnamon tea, of which we asked the recipe for and were told it’s a secret (can hardly blame them)! The second was to purchase some handmade elephant poo Christmas cards. And the third was on the morning of our train from Kandy to Ella where we enjoyed a breakfast of hoppers, more cinnamon tea and collected a ‘packed lunch’ of curry and rice which was perfect for our train journey (see me munching with my bamboo spork below).
The shop is filled with beautifully made clothes of really vibrant colours, jewellery, kitchen ware and toys. If I wasn’t on a budget and living out of a rucksack I’d of spent a fortune in this shop. The food is all local, fresh and vegetarian. They recycle and compost all waste and all produce is grown chemical-free.
Not going to lie, it’s been a tough few days for us. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with some amazing people, but as with a lot of the places we have travelled to it has it’s issues. There’s plastic everywhere, un-sustainable development left right and centre, pollution and road safety is just gross and some of the attitude to women (even myself) is heart breaking, the government is in tatters (but who’s isn’t…) and corruption is rife. But that is why when travelling to new countries and experiencing new cultures, instead of spending money where every other Tom, Dick and Harry spends it, we should spend at places like Sthree that are doing something to go against the grain and create positive change.
This will probably be my last post before the 25th, so to all my followers… have a very Merry Christmas!
Sending love to you all back at home.