Early in the morning of December 26, 2004, an underwater earthquake sent a massive tsunamis along the countries bordering the Indian Ocean, killing 230,000 people in 14 countries. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. We have talked about this tsunami before, in episode 11 with Gayatri Datar of EarthEnable. In this episode of Social Entrepreneur, Shanil Samarakoon of Empower Projects relates his story of the same tsunami, but in this case, from the perspective of his native Sri Lanka where tens of thousands were killed.
Empower Projects uses an asset-based community development approach. You may have heard this mentioned in the interview with Sasha Fisher of Spark MicroGrants. What is interesting about Empower Projects is that they make a five-year commitment to a community before they begin. This allows them to patiently work through the thorny issues of development. They train community facilitators who conduct a vision workshop, gathering the aspirations of the local community. They help the local villages to create inclusive leadership teams, including women. And they provide access to resources such as microfinance and sustainable technologies. In many cases, these villages are leapfrogging older technologies into the 21st century.
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