Greg Holyfield (Sri Lanka)

Greg Holyfield (Home for Human Rights, Sri Lanka): Greg graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in history. He then worked in the production department of Sony/ATV/Tree Music Publishing and served as a “Big Brother” for an elementary student from Nashville. He later volunteered with the Peace Corps where he served for more than 2 years in Mali, West Africa as an Agriculture Extension Agent. In Mali, Greg oversaw the construction of a garden project for a women’s group in the village of Konna. He later worked as a legislative assistant to U.S. Congressman Bart Gordon (TN-6th) on agriculture, immigration, and international relations. Greg also volunteered with the Everybody Wins mentoring program in the Washington DC public schools system. At the time of his fellowship, Greg was studying for a Masters degree in the inaugural class of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas.

Back to Batticaloa…

18 Jul

Hello everybody. I returned from Batticaloa this past Sunday and it was a pretty amazing trip (In fact, I have decided to return this weekend for about 2 weeks). During our trip, we visited two villages HHR is working in and monitored progress of the post-tsunami rehabilitation. The first village we came to was located about one km. from the beach and was destroyed by the Tsunami. The people who lived in this village were originally from the interior of the country and they had to move to this location because of continued violence from the war. We saw firsthand the wells and toilets HHR and the Dutch Refugee Foundation have funded. The work is progressing nicely.

We also met women who have been trained as tailors in order to supplement their meager incomes. We heard the success stories and the concerns the women had. All were grateful for their training and we saw the quality of their work. All they need now is a small amount of money to buy 7 more foot cranked sewing machines. Unfortunately, the funding is running out. The Dutch Refugee Foundation, who does great work and graciously funded most of HHR’s tsunami relief projects, can’t continue funding the project. We hope to locate a small grant to make this project truly sustainable.

The next day, we traveled to another village to hand out driving certificates to 9 young men who had successfully completed driver training funded by HHR and the Dutch Refugee Foundation. These young men will now be able to find jobs driving trucks, cars, three-wheelers, or motorcycles. They were all happy with their achievements were grateful for the support they received. We also heard from more women who had received training as tailors. Again, we hope to find outlets so that these women will be able to supplement their incomes via their sewing skills.

It was very gratifying to finally get to “the field” and see tsunami rehabilitation firsthand. During my stay, I met several Europeans and one American who had been working for the past year and a half helping with rehabilitation. This work can be amazingly frustrating and gratifying at the same time. The sense right now is that the devastation was so great, that grants will continue to be the primary source of aid for many people. Micro-credit lending seems to virtually non-existent and that is totally understandable. Who would want a loan when someone is giving money and aid away for free! I am going back to Batti for around two weeks this Saturday and I know I will have a lot more to report after spending more time there. Thanks again for all your support. Until next time…

Posted By Greg Holyfield (Sri Lanka)

Posted Jul 18th, 2006

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