Quarantine Series: Letter 2
While distracting myself with various activities and creative projects, I realized that the people who are hardest hit by you are those living on a daily source of income. If we take a closer look at the socio-economic landscape of Sri Lanka, it can be assumed that more 45% of the entire populace are dependent on a daily income, 25% of this community being tea plantation workers and 3% being independent taxi drivers and 17% of those working in public janitorial services. Due to a recent change in January 2019, after much public upheaval and rioting on the grounds that the legislature towards minimum daily wage was bordering on inhumane and insensitive, the Collective Bargaining agreement (CBA) agreed to increase it to Rs. 730 from initial derisory Rs. 500. Although this was initially targeted towards eradicating the prejudice and inequality against tea plantation workers, this agreement applies to all facets of those under the daily income bracket. However, this progress has been perpetually stagnated because of you. Especially since the profession of tea planting, chauffeuring and offering public janitorial services aren’t deemed ‘essential’, these individuals are left with no money to buy the necessary resources to hibernate in comfort.
I admit, the true impact of the chaos that you have drowned us with was more of lingering feeling that didn’t quite feel real till I read the headlines; “Villages starve in tea country” …. “Tea Country is non-functional and so are the communities living there”. A flurry of emotions swarmed over me, mostly being frustration and disbelief. I realized that this was the horrific product of our weak financial network and was compelled to do my part to help. I figured that donations and funds were the best method to help alleviate the financial distress that these people were facing and thus decided to raise awareness of the issue through social media and virtual posters. After much research, I discovered that UNICEF branch in Sri Lanka was launching a ‘penny for the penniless’ initiative to help mitigate the issue that afflicts minimum wage workers. Thus, due to my internship with a prominent news agency; News 1st, that I had completed last summer, I opted to write an article and a series of smaller Instagram posts to raise awareness on the initiative in order to acquire substantial donations. I opted to focalize my search and resources to the villages that are the hardest hit within the Sabaragamuwa province. Through this experience I demonstrated engagement with issues of global significance, in a more localized way. Despite the fact that you have disrupted lives of people throughout the world, I hoped to have a direct impact on those affected by the lack of the employment domestically.
A poster that I am in the process of designing shown below:
Similarly, another facet of service that I have been pursuing all because of the disarray that you have inflicted on us, is working with the family business to donate food essentials such as fruits and vegetables to those affected. Especially since our horticulture business has expanded into the agricultural industry by farming organic vegetables and fruits, I have worked with the current manager of ShiroHana farms to donate some of our produce as a contribution to UNICEF’s relief efforts. More awareness on the issue is also being raised through the company Instagram, encouraging others to follow suit in sending aid in whatever form they can. Thus, recognizing the benefits of working collaboratively we extended the invitation for donations and sponsors to other companies and individuals alike to provide aid. So far, the Tudawe Brothers and the same Youth Flood Relief team addressed in my ‘Flood Relief Program’ post have agreed to purchase non-perishable items such as canned groceries to be delivered to the province. I have been tasked with handling this aspect of the company Instagram and have designed a couple of posters to further publicize our efforts. I found the responsibility of the task to be initially daunting as I had never embarked on a professional project as such before and was quite skeptical of my capabilities. However, I showed commitment and perseverance when accomplishing this task with an open-mind and committing to my arsenal of tools I acquired when working in the marketing sector during my internship. At first, I faced a plethora of technical difficulties in terms of logistics and when contemplating which aesthetic would be the most effective to inspire others to join the relief effort. I made two distinct posters and after a virtual meeting from the manager of ShiroHana farms and other companies mentioned above, we decided to use the second draft as it felt more compelling and immediately captured one’s attention.
Final poster design: This was more of a supplementary post which accompanied a more detailed pamphlet.
An instagram story that I designed for Shirohana:
I know that you have caused grief to a multitude of families and have inflicted pandemonium in all parts of the world. However, I know that this experience is not deprived of a silver lining, even if it is only a miniscule sliver. I have always blamed you for my constant state of paranoia and exhaustion but I never thanked you for the opportunity to better myself and to be of service to my fellow Sri Lankans affected by your implications. Sri Lanka is a host to a vast array of diverse and rich culture and as a result have had its fair share of disparity and ethnic segregation. However, this shared and communal experience of battling you has in fact given all Sri Lankans a unified banner in which to rally against and in my opinion has provided a fleeting feeling of unity in our otherwise dispersed society. We have not given up hope and we will persevere. I will keep fighting and so will everyone else.
One of 7.6 billion lives you affected.