Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: November 02, 2023

Feeding the Hungry in Sri Lanka

“May the Lord bless you!” exclaimed Chaminda when he received desperately needed, nutritious rice meal packages for his young family from our missionaries at Don Bosco Chinthanaloka in Ahungalla, Sri Lanka. And it’s thanks to the support of friends like you.

Like many of his neighbors, Chaminda works hard in the nearby cinnamon fields—investing long hours to support his wife and two children. But it’s seasonal work—crops grow and yield for only six months out of the year—and the pay is remarkably low and inconsistent.

On a good day, Chaminda might earn a meager $4.00. On a bad day, he might earn nothing. And with the recent skyrocketing costs of fertilizer, there are more bad days than good ones. The people who own the fields can’t afford fertilizer, so the cinnamon harvests are shrinking. And when these owners have less cinnamon to sell, they hire fewer employees at even lower rates of pay.

“It’s an extremely challenging cycle,” explains Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Cinnamon workers like Chaminda are already forced to find supplemental jobs during the off-season months when the fields are dormant. They’re willing and able to earn a living, yet they are barely scraping by because of the economic reality of where they live.”

On top of it all, overall inflation and several consecutively poor growing seasons have hit Sri Lankans very hard. Food costs have increased by nearly 95 percent in just a few years and now, as many as 6.3 million people face moderate to severe food insecurity.

Fortunately—thanks to our ongoing partnerships with international relief organizations such as Rise Against Hunger, and the established presence of our Salesian missionaries in Sri Lanka—tons of fortified meals are already on the ground and waiting to feed desperately hungry children and families in the country. The biggest challenge is getting these nutritious meals into the hands of those who need it most.

You can help us overcome this obstacle.

Every November, Salesian Missions launches our Annual Food Distribution Appeal—and we invite friends like you to be part of it. The funds we raise during this crucial campaign cover the costs of transportation, so that we can move all that food from the shipping docks to Salesian-run programs where it’s prepared and distributed.

And the good news? It doesn’t take much. Just one dollar can provide 20 times that amount in nourishing food! That means that just one $10 donation helps us transport $200 worth of food; $25 immediately becomes $500; and $50 can distribute $1,000 worth of fortified meals.

The direct, human impact of your generosity is significant. Since we first partnered with Rise Against Hunger in 2011, kind friends like you have helped us feed tens of thousands of desperately hungry children and families in impoverished countries around the world. This life-saving aid has nourished students in Salesian-run schools, as well as members of the broader community during times of crisis and disaster.

In Sri Lanka specifically, more than 6,000 people—including Chaminda and his family—received crucial rice-meals donated by Rise Against Hunger. Missionaries distributed the meals at Don Bosco Chinthanaloka, as well as through several other Salesian schools and community centers around the country.

“I express my gratitude to all those who supported us with this food,” says Father Sebastian Fernando, director of Don Bosco Chinthanaloka. “Due to the economic crisis of this country, the price of goods has increased, the electricity bills have increased, transport prices have increased—everything seems to have increased. But salaries stay the same, so the people of this locality find it very difficult to support and sustain their families and themselves with food, education and good health. Therefore, I think this is a very great moment in which you really helped these poor families. Thank you and may God bless you all,” he says.

The generosity of donors like you truly makes a meaningful difference—and that generosity extends far beyond Sri Lanka. Support for our Annual Food Distribution Appeal benefits hungry children and families in thousands of impoverished communities in more than 130 countries around the world.

“Because our Salesian missionaries live and work in the communities where they serve, they’re perfectly positioned to effectively and efficiently distribute goods and supplies,” explains Fr. Tim. “Missionaries know the local and political landscape, and have the resources to ensure that food aid reaches those most in need. And our donors are an integral part of that success.”

Learn more about our work in Sri Lanka.

Our mission transforms every $1 you can give into $20 worth of life-saving food. Please join us in this miracle today!

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