Rains in a strange place...
By Ranee Mohamed
When there is a depression somewhere and the rains slash our cars and blind our vision, the last thing we will think about are
refugees of the tsunami. After the rain ceases and we are in the.....
Remembering World AIDS Day
Of cool ice-creams
> Drinking tea lowers bad cholesterol
Lanka's leopards have changed their spots
> Lucky flood victims (....Balder
Rains in a strange place...
An unsteady childhood
By Ranee Mohamed
When there is a depression somewhere and the rains slash our cars and blind our vision, the last thing we will think about are refugees of the tsunami. After the rain ceases
and we are in the safety of our homes too, we have our clothes to dry and our mud-stained cars to wash that the victims of the tsunami standing in one and a half feet of water holding their hungry little children is not our concern.
But go to Anura Mawatha, off Borupana Road and find a place called Salusalawatte and surely the plight of the people living there will touch our hearts.Without food, without clothes and hidden in a corner of this far
away deserted place, these innocent people say that the real effect of the tsunami is felt now more than ever before.
The unbearable stench comes from two locations - their overflowing temporary drainage system and the garbage collecting nearby - blending together this stench is so extraordinary. Also extraordinary is the fact that there are over 200 little children living here.
It is true that these poor people have been unlucky in life - but on this Wednesday morning they were unluckier; for as they were crying and pouring out their problems, arrived the grama sevaka of the area on his red bicycle.
"There is nothing wrong here," he told us. "These people have places to live in; they have everything," he explained. "What about the women and children who were forced to come here from Karmanthapura on Galle Road, Ratmalana?" we ask casually. "They came here on their own and they are quite happy
here," he stresses. We say that we want to see them, but the grama sevaka is sorry that they were unable to meet us because 'no one was at home.' "They have their jobs to go to," he says. But those who gather around us explain that we will never be allowed to see them, that we will never see their tears or hear the cries of their children.
"What about the houses that are underwater?" we ask. "Oh! The water has now evaporated," he tells us casually, directing us in the same breath to the government agent's office in case we needed any details and statistics about these refugees.
But we saw the details here, in the eyes of the silent people. They had so much to say but remained speechless in the presence of a government authority. But we heard it all, in the softness of the teardrops that moved and the desperate hands that went to their chins and hearts.
There was mud everywhere and little children were balancing dangerously on the pieces of rock. Though the mid day sun was scorching it seemed very kind to the huge patches of mud all over Salusalawatte.
We wanted to balance our way across the stones and see for ourselves what was causing so much pain in the faces of these men and women and so much distress in their hearts. But it is not proper, not with the grama sevaka standing there watching us with a superficial smile. So we walk out of the camp.
But for those few to whom the conditions here were unbearable follow us, looking behind anxiously, they run behind us: "Please help us, please take us out of this place," begs an old woman wearing a faded cloth. "Our children are ill and there is no doctor or
hospital for miles. This place is deserted and we know only hardship," she cries.
"There are 205 families here - look at our children," a young woman holds out an emaciated child who was sleeping on her shoulder. "These children are without any food. Once in a way some people from the GA's office comes with milk powder but all our children get nauseous after consuming this outdated milk powder. They
give the adults some kind of canned fish and there are worms in these. We cant' cook, we can't eat and we can't live here," begs these refugees.
These are the poorest of the poor, people who barely have Rs.100 with them and W. Kanthi is a helpless woman with a broken heart. "The Modera police took my 18-year-old son into custody. They told me that he had a bomb in his pocket, let alone a bomb, my son does not even
have a cigarette. This whole camp is willing to swear by his character. I have done everything possible, but what can a poor woman like me do," cries Kanthi. She is begging us to do something.
Many are the problems of these people whose lives have been washed away by the tsunami. Today their temporary abodes are under water.
"There are 15 houses under water after the recent rains but not a single person has come to see us. No one seems to care whether we eat or drink, live or die. Look at our children, at least can't they think about our children," they ask.
It is plain to see that the children are suffering here. Dengue, colds, coughs and fevers are common to all children here.
These people of Salusalawatte live a strange life - without food or drink, without clothes, without any kind of recreation or without any money to call their own, these are the people who are waiting for government aid, which trickled down for a few days after the tsunami and then dried up.
Lucky flood victims
This week, I was a flood refugee. Our garden was transformed into a miniature lake. We flung some clothes into a couple of bags, and waded through the ankle deep water into our vehicle. We were lucky because unlike most of the flood
victims here, we were given top class treatment at our refuge.
We had lots of entertainment in the form of my little grand-nephew, who had innumerable questions, all beginning with 'Why.' We had to explain why we were there, why our house was flooded, why it was raining and so on. The kids thought it was great fun camping out.
The only thing they complained about was the apparent loud snoring, for which they accused him and me. What, me snore? Never! They were threatening to record it and play back to me the next day.
Anyway, it gave me a sort of indication what it is to be displaced, though I would not have chosen a nicer location! The last time we were flooded out, we had to wade out knee- deep in water. Since the kids were little, they had to be brought out perched on our shoulders, to their delight.
Our suitcases had to be carried balanced on our heads. Some enterprising neighbourhood guys had fashioned a raft and were going up and down the area. I am seriously thinking of buying a boat. You never know, these days! The last time I was given one day's notice to clean up for a very important official dinner. Since I was busy
cooking, I had no time to supervise the work, but miraculously it was done.
Clean up operation
I decided that my Christmas spring-cleaning might as well be started together with the clean-up operation. So there was literally an invasion of an army of workers. Some were painting, some repairing, some cleaning and everywhere there was chaos. Of course, the computer guy who had been missing in action for the past several days
decides to arrive with the army.
He then proceeds to waste a lot of our time and finally admits he could not repair either one of our computers. The electrician says we absolutely have to replace all the ceiling light bulb holders.
We apparently have totally the wrong kind. The electronics guy says the fancy phone needs this very expensive new battery. It never just rains, it pours! Things were strewn all over the place.
My newest addition to the staff who pretends to understand Sinhala, nods vigorously and enthusiastically, say, 'Yes!' to everything and goes and does whatever she feels like, which is usually nothing close to what I have asked her to do. I can't tear my hair and scream, as people would think I'm totally batty. In addition to this, it
keeps raining every evening and new leaks appear with every deluge, which disappear with the next shower. It must be wind direction, or force or something like that. So, there are more objects lying around to trip over.
Clothes don't dry, and my new helper sweeps everything in sight into the dirty linen basket, like the towel you're using, the clothes you kept out to wear later on in the day, so that there's even more washing than usual! Cauldrons of tea and food are churned out in the kitchen to be consumed by the army. In the midst of all this,
there is a mini battle being fought by The Army, the Resident Women versus the Men.
Tantrums are thrown by everyone, the hugest by me, and then everyone slinks off, muttering darkly to themselves. Great fun and a good way to let off steam! I totally recommend it.
Loku Akka's visit
At last the place looks decent enough to receive the foreign resident relatives! I must do the final inspection with a magnifying glass, Sherlock style.All hints about fabulous cheap new curtaining, are being ignored by the Head Householder. After all, it's his Loku Akka who's visiting, not my family.
Never mind, we'll recycle the old ones. Also I'll madly decorate, both for Christmas and for the kids party in one go! I once put up curtains out of fishnet in our television room, which I came across. I draped it very artistically around, and everyone admired it, saying how unusual it looked! Just you wait! The absolutely worst
disaster is that my dressmaker is hanging up her scissors. Now I'll have to wear old clothes as well!
- Honky Tonk Woman
Remembering World AIDS Day
December 1 was World AIDS Day and according to UNAIDS estimates, there are 38
million adults and 2.3 million children living with HIV, and during 2005 some 4.9 million people became newly infected with the virus.
Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35. Around 95% of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing nations. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.
Started in 1988, World AIDS Day is not just about raising money, but also about increasing awareness, education and fighting prejudice. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.
For many years, World AIDS Day has been organised by UNAIDS, who have chosen the theme after consultation with other organisations. However, in 2005 UNAIDS handed over responsibility for World AIDS Day to an independent organisation known as the World AIDS Campaign (WAC).
WAC's theme for their campaign is "Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise." This theme is however not specific to World AIDS Day only but to the work the WAC does throughout the year. It would also remain the focus until 2010.
This change in the way that World AIDS Day is organised has caused some confusion among HIV and AIDS organisations. Some have chosen to adopt "Stop AIDS; Keep The Promise" as their theme for World AIDS Day 2005. Others have, for the first time, picked their own topic for the events they're holding this year . Whatever one
decides to do however, the most important thing is that you follow basic principles by raising awareness and understanding where you live and by remembering the millions living with HIV or suffering because of AIDS.
The red ribbon
The red ribbon is an international symbol of AIDS awareness that is worn by people all year round and particularly around World AIDS Day to demonstrate care and concern about HIV and AIDS, and to remind others of the need for their support and commitment.
The red ribbon started as a 'grass roots' effort, and as a result there is no official red ribbon, and many people make their own. It's easily done - just use some ordinary red ribbon and a safety pin!
What can I do to support World AIDS Day?
There are many ways in which you can support World AIDS Day. For example:
Raise awareness of HIV and AIDS in your area.
Wear a red ribbon and ask others to do the same.
Protect yourself and your partners - this is the first and best way to stop the spread of HIV.
If you are worried - get tested.
Of cool ice-creams
By Shezna Shums
In warm, sunny Sri Lanka the humidity could sometimes be extremely stifling and uncomfortable. These days are cool but most of the time we have to literally beat the heat.
An immediate way of cooling off is to have something that's cool and soothing to the body, and what better way to do this than by having an ice cream.
Ice creams give immediate pleasure and energy to the person and its cool texture offers that instant relief at times of gloom.
Ice creams are not just good to cool off during the day but are very popular at parties where this easy dessert is enjoyed by both children and adults. And for our country, although small in size it could proudly boast of a very impressive array of ice cream flavours.
The usual and adored flavours such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry are ever so popular. And of late local fruit flavours are coming into the market. These flavours are also gaining popularity while there are also vanilla ice cream with local kithul and cadju added, to meet the demands of the local tastes.
Some of the local fruit flavours available are avocado, woodapple, pineapple, passion fruit and coconut to name a few but this list certainly is much longer.
"Local ice creams are custom-made for the Sri Lankan palate and they offer just the correct amount of fruits and milk flavour - unlike imported ice creams which are too strong in their flavour, too much of chocolate or are too milky to the Sri lankan palate," Christy, an
avowed ice cream fan told The Sunday Leader.
She added that the variety available in the country is very impressive. "Avocado and even the fruit and nut ice cream flavours are my favourite," she said.
Ice creams are generally enjoyed by most of the people and the cups are extremely popular specially when at work and one absolutely needs to have something sweet. An ice cream cone from one of the ice cream vans is also relished when out on a hot day.
These ice cream vans can be found at Galle Face or near crowded places and is most certainly very tempting.
Radika, another confirmed ice cream addict, says that she too enjoys having ice creams especially when she puts about three flavours of ice cream together with chopped banana's and cadju.
"For my birthday we just buy a couple of ice creams and make jelly and have other stuff like cadju, peni cadju or wafers and have ice cream sundaes," she said.
She added that the flavours and quality of ice cream here are excellent and one couldn't ask for more.
1. "Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone."
2. "I had always thought that once you grew up you could do anything you wanted - stay up all night or eat ice-cream straight out of the container."
3. "My advice to you is not to inquire why, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate - that's my philosophy."
4. Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Coincidence? I think not!
- Author Unknown
5. Forget love... I'd rather fall in chocolate! - Author Unknown
6. There are two kinds of people in the world:those who love chocolate, and communists.
- Leslie Moak Murray
7. Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces.
- Judith Viorst
8. After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you could conquer enemies, lead armies, entice lovers. - Emily Luchetti
9. I don't cry over spilt milk, but a fallen scoop of ice cream is enough to ruin my whole day.
10. I doubt whether the world holds for anyone a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream.
- Heywood Broun
Drinking tea lowers bad cholesterol
For years, studies in China and Japan have shown that the folklore about tea does contain some truth - it does promote
longer life. Japanese smokers have only half the living cancer rate as American smokers. In areas of Japan where the most tea is drunk the rate of stomach cancer is the lowest.
Tea (Camellia sinensis) refers to Black, Green and Oolong teas. Teas differ by levels of fermentation processing. Black tea is fully fermented; Oolong is partially fermented, and green is unfermented. The health properties are similar due to similar bioactive health substances like bioflavonoids.
Black varieties of tea which are very popular in European countries, some of the Asian countries (such as Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Middle-Eastern countries), and United States, are prepared by processing, fermenting and drying tea leaves. Green tea does not undergo
fermentation. Instead the leaves are steamed, dried and made ready for use. During steaming some of the enzymes present in tea are inactivated and some of the bioflavonoids in tea are destroyed during the fermentation process. Therefore green tea preserves much of the
beneficial nutrient content found in fresh tea leaves.
Lowers bad cholesterol
Consumption of both black and green tea lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and can one day be used to help reduce the chance of heart disease for those at risk. Scientists with U.S. Department of Agriculture have found that consumers who drank black tea for three weeks experienced a decrease of between 7% and 11% in their low density
lipoprotein (LDL) or so called bad cholesterol. There was no effect on level of high density lipoprotein or the good type of cholesterol. "This may indicate that drinking tea regularly as part of a mixed diet for most people has a beneficial effect" said Joseph Judd, a chemist with USDA, who led the study (2003 October issue of the Journal Of Nutrition).
Cholesterol is distributed in the body attached to protein called lipoprotein and high levels of HDL cholesterol reduce the risk.
According to the Tea Association of the USA, total sales of tea in 2002 were $ 5.03 billion up, from $ 1.84 billion in 1990.
Judd and his colleagues placed 15 participants on a six week double blind study. About half received five cups of black tea per day while others were given coloured water that tasted like tea. The two groups then switched. LDL levels dropped by an average of 7.5% during the three weeks when the individuals consumed tea. The scientists
proved that the drop in LDL cholesterol level was not due to caffeine. The study controlled the diet of the participants by supplying them with their daily meals.
Green tea has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. The potent antioxidant effects of green tea inhibited the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in the arteries. It is the oxidised LDL which, is harmful and not the unoxidised cholesterol, and oxidised LDL plays a major role in the formation of atherosclerosis.
Green tea prevents blood clots
The formation of blood clots (thrombosis) is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes, and green tea has been shown to inhibit abnormal blood clot formation as effectively as asprin. Green tea specifically inhibits platelet stickiness (aggregation and adhesion) via effects that differ from those of aspirin.
Green tea reduces the, risk of arterial blood clotting by two known mechanisms. First, green tea inhibits thromboxane A2 formation as does asprin. Second, green tea inhibits another clotting agent called platelet-activating factor (P A F). Throboxane not only causes arterial
blood clots but also arterial constriction. The inhibition of thromboxane by tea can prevent a heart attack or thrombotic strokes.
Asprin has some antithrombotic effects that differ from green tea. If you are taking low dose asprin to prevent a heart attack or stroke, you should continue doing so even if you consume green tea.
Green tea lowers blood pressure
The loss of arterial elasticity is one cause of hypertension (high blood pressure). Youthful arteries contract and expand effortlessly with each heart beat. Ageing causes loss of arterial elasticity. As mentioned earlier green tea inhibits thromboxane production which is one cause of arterial constriction. A more significant cause of
hypertension is an enzyme secreted by the kidney called angiotenesin, converting enzyme (ACE) and drugs called ACE. Inhibitors such as captopril, enelepril and lisinopril function as ACE inhibitors. Green tea is a natural ACE inhibitor. If you are going to use green tea to treat hypertension do so under the supervision of your
Lowering blood sugar levels
When we consume starch we need and enzyme called amylase to break it down to simple sugars such as glucose that can be absorbed into the blood stream. Green tea polyphenols inhibit amylase and prevent normal elevation of glucose and insulin when starch is ingested. High blood levels of glucose and insulin predispose people to diabetes
and heart disease, strokes, and are associated with ageing. For most of us especially those of middle age and old age, sugar is the primary culprit in accumulation of body fat. It has been proved that there is a reduction in body fat when you drink green tea.
Tea drinking prevents cancer
Researchers in Australia announced that a cup of tea could be the next weapon to fight skin cancer. (Most of the research on tea has been done using green tea). Ability of green tea may be especially protective against lung cancer in former and current cigarette smokers. Green tea catechins have been shown to prevent cancer in the
1. Green tea catechins help to neutralise dietary carcinogens such as nitrosamines and aflatoxin.
2. They interfere with the binding of cancer causing agents to cellular DNA thereby
protecting cells against mutations that can eventually cause cancer.
3. They protect against free radical DNA damage that causes some cancers
4. They inhibit bacteria induced mutations that also can lead to certain cancers.
5. They work with enzymes and other antioxidants in the intestine,
liver and lungs to prevent the activation of certain carcinogens before they damage D.N.A.
6. They protect against the effects of ionizing radiation and ultraviolet irradiation.
Some studies have shown that green tea blocks the formation of certain tumours. Green tea has been shown to counteract both initiation and promotion of carcinogens. Therefore it would be well worth taking tea as a beverage or supplement with a view to prevent cancer.
Green tea may help to lower prevalence of esophageal adenocarcinoma, one of the fastest growing cancers in Western countries.
A team from the Harvard Medical School reported that a substance called E G C G present in green tea inhibits the growth and reproduction of cancer cells associated with Barrets oesphagus which is caused by stomach acid (HCL) creeping back up from the stomach to gullet (oesaphagus). Acid damage causes the cells lining the oesaphagus to
change and raises the risk of oesphageal cancer by 30 to 40%.
Other beneficial effects of green tea
Recent scientific research suggests that green tea has potent fat burning properties. Dr. Abdull Dulloo led research into weight loss which was conducted at University of Geneva and proved that catechin polyphenols in green tea promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content and helps weight loss (Dulloo A et al,
Amer.) Clini, Nutrition., 1999, 70,1040-45)
Antioxidants in green tea may prevent and reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis (April 13 issue of The Proceedings Of National Academy Of Sciences).
Pelvic pain syndrome
Known as pelvic pain syndrome, prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostrate gland that affects about 30 million men is U.S.
The condition causes severe urogenital pain and standard treatment schedules of antibiotics offer little or no success. It was proved by Daniel Shosbes, head of urology in Encino, California that there is improvement in symptoms when they are treated using bioflavonoids quercetin found in tea. It is noteworthy that in middle aged and
elderly men with prostatic symptoms, cancer of the prostrate should be excluded by referring the patient to a urologist or a general surgeon who will do all the investigations such as P S A, urine culture, US scan of abdomen etc., before diagnosing pelvic pain syndrome.
- D.P. Athokorale
Lanka's leopards have changed their spots
By Risidra Mendis
Spotting a leopard in the wild is every wildlife and nature lover's dream. The thrill of seeing those black eyes staring at you through the trees or the sounds of a leopard close
by are unforgettable memories, for some of us who visit the Yala and Wilpattu National parks.
Even though Sri Lanka has many national parks to be proud of, Yala and Wilpattu are the most popular national parks for spotting leopards. However the recent reports of signs of leopards roaming the Bundala National Park have attracted the attention of wildlife and nature lovers in the country.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Naturalist Udaya Chanaka said that for the past three years no sighting of a leopard was reported from the Bundala National Park.
However an unexpected encounter of an animal that resembled a leopard, by a wildlife official within the Bundala National Park in July was later confirmed to be that of a leopard.
"A wildlife official travelling from the Uraniya area in the Bundala National Park on July 13 saw an animal that resembled a leopard running across the road at around 7.30 p.m.
"The animal ran in front of the wildlife official's vehicle and disappeared into the jungle. However the official could not identify the animal as it was dark," Chanaka said.
On July 23 Chanaka went to the Bundala National Park to gather some information on wild elephants that were to be driven from Bundala to the Lunugamvehera National Park. However having heard the story of the possibility of a leopard roaming the Bundala National Park, Chanaka decided to do his own investigations. Chanaka's reason for
visiting the Bundala Park then changed course.
Chanaka together with three wildlife officers entered the Bundala National Park and took a turn off the main road towards the Geikadunuwala area. "We received the shock of our life when we saw the clear signs of a leopard's footprints on the road.
"A short distance away from the suspected footprints we saw the dung of an animal suspected to be that of a leopard. I took some samples of the dung and gave it to a professional naturalist, Kelum Manamendra Arachchi for identification. Having examined the dung, Arachchi confirmed that it was a leopard's dung," Chanaka said.
The news of leopards at the Bundala National Park was music to the ears of the many environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts who thought that leopards would never be spotted in this park again.
"The recording of the sighting has once again drawn attention to the Bundala National Park. Leopards are an endangered species in Sri Lanka and need to be protected.
The number of leopards has decreased in the country as they are hunted for their skins and teeth by poachers.
However measures should be taken if these animals are to be protected for future generations. It is also the duty of all citizens in the country to protect the leopard from extinction," Chanaka said.