The first item on the agenda on Day 3 was a visit to the Galle Fort which was built by the Dutch. However, the constant pleas to visit the Hikkaduwa coast by the participants convinced the organizers that visiting Hikkaduwa once again was worth the delay. The ride turned out to be absolutely stunning, especially for the team from the North who had never experienced something like that before. Having seen the beauty of the corals, a Sister from Vavuniya, much to my confusion remarked that humans indeed were like the Hikkaduwa coast line. My confusion was put to rest when she explained that humans were turbulent on the surface, just like the waves that crashed onto the coast, while deep within they were capable of compassion, the beauty of that compassion could be likened to the beauty of the corals found on the sea bed. Out of all the inspiring analogies that are thrown around, that had to be one of the finest I have ever heard.
After coming ashore, we then set off to the Galle Fort with two other members from the Galle DIRC who acted as guides informing the group of the history of the fort and the community which lived within it. The group was treated to some breath taking views of the ocean from the top of the fort and to some fascinating stories of individuals being taken away to the sea in an area of water which even at high tide only reached up to a person’s knee. A Muslim Moulavi of a mosque, located within the fort invited the group into the religious premises and provided them with an extensive history of the Fort and the community that lived within it. He also informed the group; of the extremely strong inter religious ties that existed between the communities that lived within the fort. He went onto claim that during times of ethnic unrest outside the fort, steps were taken by the inter-religious committees set up within the fort to prevent the unrest from seeping into the community within the fort by preventing certain persons from entering the fort. For many of the Hindu and few Buddhists from the North (which included a Daham Pasal teacher), this was the first time that they had entered a mosque. Subsequent to this experience, the group headed back to the Training Center for lunch and a welcome ceremony by the Galle DIRC.
The group then travelled to Pittabadara Matara, a small village which clearly punched above its weight in putting a fine welcoming ceremony for the group from the North. Prominent members from the local government and Matara DIRC graced the occasion. Fine Sri Lankan sweets like “Thala Guli” and “Halapa” were served, while a group of young girls put on an elegant dance performance. It was also arranged for the awarding of marriage certificates to 20 couples who lived in the nearby estate to take place after the usual round of speeches. Some of the couples who had arrived had already been married for well over 10 years and yet did not have a marriage certificate. Members of the Divisional Secretariat claimed that it was a mixture of ignorance and apathy that was responsible for this pathetic situation, where a large number of estate workers did not even have birth certificates.
The team then left to the Sarvodaya in Matara where they were to spend the night.