A week already gone by

As I write this, a deep clap of thunder reverberates through my very being and for a brief moment I savour the vibrations within my body, before a bright quick flash of lightening is let loose.  There is a momentary stillness before the next quick thwack of thunder … a warning that soon the deluge will be unleashed to pound into the now sodden ground, and overflowing drains.

It’s not monsoon don’t you know.  The whole island has had a week of hammering rain, the worst in over 3 years I am told.  Along the East coast where I was just a day ago, I was grateful to be travelling in a truck tall enough to wade through some 2.5 feet of flooded water over roads that are low-lying in the first place.  The road side was only visible by the scattering of small wooden fishing boats tethered to the road signs.

The local fresh-water prawn farms were frantically pumping out water to prevent a slew of Jacques the French-accented prawns of Finding Nemo fame, from making a life-changing break for freedom.  I suspect they would not last very long in the searing sun, once the water recedes!  Would make for some tasty fish paste though.

There’s not one that is complaining about the torrential rain though.  That’s because of the drought in the last couple of years, a drought that has severely impacted the bi-annual paddy harvests.  So this rain is seen as a lifesaver, giving hope to farmers of two decent harvests that they can count on over the coming year.

But enough of the rain!

It’s heartening to feel some things haven’t changed, but there are more things that have changed.  It was good to take in the moistened heat and night-time smells of a sleepy city as I stepped out from the air-conditioned airport en route to my first home away from home – the downtown hotel. The city skyline is filled with cranes and construction sites, much of which is funded by China.  The land being reclaimed from the sea at Galle Face Green as part of the controversial City Port (now known as the Colombo International Financial City), is near completion … a few years behind schedule but getting there I guess.

Traffic is still crazy and three-wheeler rides are as manic as ever, especially when your face is at the same height of the exhaust of a neighbouring bus!

It was great to catch up with the ladies and gents of the BIZ+ office and reconnect with old friends. It was lovely actually, and they make my return back to Sri Lanka all the more worthwhile.  But it wasn’t all about chillin’.  The BIZ+ project ends June 2019 so there is much work to do with the investment partners before then:  business coaching in human resources matters, process improvements and general management themes.  It is the same the world over! In just a week, I have already traveled the length and breadth of the country, with business meetings in Matara, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, a small island near Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa.  Definitely thrown into the deep end alright.

Personally, I will be working with a slew of the more mature businesses, helping them prepare for Great Place to Work certification (GPTW).  This is a worldwide certification with it’s genesis in the US, where a measure of the employees contentment level and the organization’s culture is taken.  An international independent committee reviews each application and awards certification, or not.  There’s high hopes for some of these business to receive certification once I am done with this – let’s hope I do not let anyone down!

So sin an sceil for my first week.  Access to wifi has been intermittent hence no photos but I move to my ‘permanent’ home in Matara at the weekend.  This should see me with a kitchen from which to cook, a place to hang up my clothes and what is hopefully, consistent wifi connection!  Tis the simple things, isn’t it.


The good thing about being on the road in Sri Lanka, is how many elephants you see along the roadside!

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation www.bomkarlsson.com and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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5 Responses to A week already gone by

  1. Debbie says:

    Kate so glad you landed safely and it sounds like you are “all systems go” right from the start! Looking forward to your next post and can’t wait to see pictures! x0x Debbie

  2. Mick Canning says:

    Hadn’t realised you were back in Sri Lanka (I think I’ve missed a lot of everyone’s posts recently). Looking forward to hearing more.

  3. Courtney Sherwin says:

    Glad to hear you made it safely! Hope you are settling in to your new digs in Matara.

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