government structure

Posted Thursday November 13, 2014 by Hazel Durbridge

My body is adjusting to the heat. I was in 2 meetings yesterday and found the A/C too much. This morning I was dancing around the edge of the shower because it felt too cold. I have had final briefings on finance, political sensitivity (that I dare not even write about), government structures and a chaotic trip to Lady J department store to buy household items. Lady J is like an ant city version of Poundland.

The government structures was a quick run through the 3 eras of colonialism Portuguese, Dutch, British, the different constitutions, the power of the president, the political parties and what they stand for then how government works at National, Regional (they have 9 provinces), District (25 per province), 300 divisions per district then 14,000 Grama Niladahari which is a village official looking after approximately 39,000 villages so 2-3 each.

Then they have provincial councils which are not a government body, but have some dissolved powers and look after the less important schools and hospitals. Everything has a hierarchy. This was given as a sop during the Tamil/Sinhala tensions. They have elected members and a small ‘parliament’ but no power to form laws.

They also have a Town Council/Parish Council equivalent structure that looks after practical stuff like rubbish collection, electricity, water etc and is well loved because it is practical.

The biggest external income generator for Sri Lanka is the 1,000,000 Sri Lankan domestics who go and work mainly in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE. Some poor 17 year old Sri Lankan girl got beheaded recently because there was an incident with a baby in her care.

Sri Lankans also suffer an extremely high rate of mental health issues because of the war, the tsunami, poverty and changed lifestyles.

I have refused a motorbike, but I am being coerced in to getting a bike. I hate bikes. In Africa I was always falling off it or it was forever getting a puncture and then I had to push it to some little man to get fixed. I did have a favorite bike fixer out there. In the market they sell recycled clothes from the west and pretty much exclusively the men will put together the most quirky, off the wall combinations. I especially remember wooly pom pom hats which for some bizarre reason in astonishing heat were a fashion item and these old men with their chiselled cheek bones, glittering white teeth and designer stubble wore them with such aplomb it was very sexy and endearing. Bike fixer man had a penchant for kiddy pyjama bottoms with teddies on with strategic rope belts. He was cute. Anyway, I would rather walk, but apparently it is too far from my house to the work place and I will not have the money or access to trishaw drivers as there are in the towns.

After my last Tamil lesson today I am travelling to some hippy tourist place to meet up with 2 volunteers for the week-end as it is their big New Year holiday here and everything is closed.


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