About an hour after dawn on the 7th of September 2020, a group of young, energetic Rotaractors boarded a bus to reach Ingiriya, which was the planned location for the second phase of the Project Cut the Greed, Not the Green. Having reached our destination by 8.00 am, we at once realized the change in surrounding both physically and mentally. We were surrounded with so much greenery which was not a part of our everyday lives, since we all lived in highly urbanized areas. The rain had given the flora and fauna that occupied the area a proper awakening. It was such a mesmerizing view with the sun peeking through the leaves of the nearby trees, and the noises made by birds and other animals, resulting in a perfect morning.
In addition to our group of Rotaractors we were accompanied by a team from the organization Reforest Sri Lanka, a group of students from St. John’s School Panadura, the working staff of a nearby Water Board, the senior officer of a nearby Police station and a few more enthusiastic individuals.
The samplings were to be planted at the bank of the Kalu Ganga, in Ingiriya. As we stepped into the wooded pathway that led there, we immediately realized that the leeches had already emerged due to the rain, and this was naturally something none of us liked. A slight drizzle continued, but it was no turn around for us as we were nothing but focused on reaching the goal of planting the 400 samplings that we had planned for the day.
Once all the samplings were unloaded from a lorry, we split into 2 groups which consisted of a good mix of Rotaractos from our club and other volunteers. One group headed to the nearby river bank with mammoties and trowels, while the other got onto a fully loaded boat that took them to a more densely forested areas of the river bank one could not reach by foot.
The group that went by foot immediately began to plant the samplings near the river bank. The place was smaller than we expected, so after completing planting on the bank, we looked for another spot where we could plant the rest. The kind villager helped us with finding the perfect place for the job; a grove a little away from the river. She took us through a paddy field where we had to walk over a long canal boundary to avoid the mud water on both sides and we crossed several small water streams to reach the destination. Thereafter, we successfully planted all the saplings we had.
The group which took the boar ride had quite an experience as the surrounding scenery looked exceptionally calm and beautiful, and we felt the cold wind and water droplets hitting us as we proceeded towards our location on the boat. The time on the boat enabled the team to interact with each other, which added to the good time we were already having. Our voices and laughter were second only to the sound of the boat engine.
Apart from experiencing leech bites, slips, mud patches and scratches, we also stumbled across some illegally brewed liquor and were able to witness its disposal in the hands of the local police officers having had the chance to know how the brewing is actually done.
A few hours passed and with almost all the samplings bedded on the side of the river bank and we decided to call it a day and head back to reunite with the others. We had quite a rough time trying to load the boat back onto a lorry on a muddy and slippery surface and it required a lot of manpower and teamwork.
By the time the boat was loaded we were even more exhausted and that was when the rains started pouring again and everyone scurried for cover depriving us of our long awaited lunch. Reforest Sri Lanka provided us and the other volunteers with lunch packets and the kind lady who helped us to find the grove earlier prepared tea for the entire crew. It was amazing to to enjoy the delicious meal while laughing about the epic moments happened throughout the day, and watching the rain outside.
They say all good things must come to an end, and likewise we had to wrap up an adventurous, productive and fun-filled day. The team of Rotaractors gathered to say goodbye and thank everyone who were a part of the project.
While walking down the road to catch a bus home we laughed and talked about the experiences we had that day, and within a time span of two hours we were able to carry our tired selves back home with a lot of satisfaction and memories to cherish, looking forward to the next phase of Cut the Greed, not the Green.
Written by: Rtr. Priyan Jerome
Edited by: Rtr. Kalani Siriwardena