Sri Lanka has been stricken by one disaster following another in 2017. The howling winds, the destructive flood water and the fatal landslides claimed many lives and livelihoods and the drought that followed has left hundreds affected. Farmers curse their parched crops with parched lips as their children wail in hunger. All the while, an even deadlier foe brings death to nearly every neighbourhood in the island. Death, riding on the wings of mosquito, has claimed hundreds of lives in 2017 alone. The spread of the dengue virus has often been closely attributed to man’s callous activities including improper disposal of garbage. Water collecting in ill-disposed cups, tins, old tyres and coconut shells are ideal breeding ground for the aedes aegypti mosquito that carry this fatal fever.
In a bid to combat the spread of dengue in the Thotalanga area in Colombo, the Alliance Development Trust (ADT) joined hands with a section of this community on 13 August, 2017. More than 80 children, youth and adults marched through the town area via the market place to the flats of Muwadora Uyana. The children held hand-made banners in their bands while the youth beat on a drum calling out messages of awareness. The campaigners’ messages were simple yet factual – they called the people’s attention to the rising death toll, the need for immediate action and ways to mitigate this disaster. The 10 youth gathered also acted out a street drama as the residents of the flats looked on from their balconies and passers-by gathered around. Not stopping there, the little kids and youth put their words to action and walked the streets with garbage bags in hand, collecting garbage and saving lives.
The young ones message rang true and strong – dengue is deadly and we can prevent it. The ADT is happy that youth and young children from the community of Thotalanga stepped up to actively participate in the awareness programme. The programme not only instilled in them awareness about the need to take preventive measures against the spread of dengue but also a sense of leadership and responsibility towards the well-being of their community.