Community - Local Culture
The village surrounding the villa is a village which still, largely upholds the true rural Sri Lankan ethics of simplicity, kindness and hospitality
Post war Sri Lanka saw many changes to the economy and progression of the country and its people. A 33 year repressive period was followed by sudden and fast paced development which confused many of the otherwise simple people. Along with this cost of living in Sri Lanka has sky rocketed making simple necessities such as milk, meat, fish vegetables and fruits, unaffordable to many villagers. The traditionally healthy diet of rice with vegetables and fish has now changed to rice and coconut or plain bread in most rural villages leading to malnutrition and frustration amongst people.
This has resulted in many turning to scurrilous and opportunistic tendencies in an attempt to make money, becoming power hungry and losing focus on the traditional Sri Lankan buddhist values.
The village surrounding the villa is a village which still, largely upholds the true rural Sri Lankan ethics of simplicity, kindness and hospitality. The local villagers are shy of attention and compliments, as they lead very simple uncomplicated lives. Most of them survive by rubber tapping or working or finding work on plantations where the work is long and arduous and pay is traditionally, quite low.
Having a rich community centric history, the house itself is 150 years old and belonged to the then chief of the village, who served as an advisor, decision maker and community figure head for the local area and its people. With the movement of the wealthier families in to the Capital City, Colombo and overseas, villagers are left to depending solely on government funding and development activities. With all of Sri Lanka under development, small villages such as these are often overlooked in favour of larger towns and cities across the country.
Plantation villa was created to offer employment and development for the village community in harmony with its cultural values and environmental protection. The Villa still upholds is role as the centre of the village providing employment, guidance and the villages have the sense of belonging to the Plantation. The Villa profits are channelled in to our own charity, The Metta Trust which organises all of the community development and nature preservation activities.
A summary of our community projects are listed below. You are invited to join us in these activities as we introduce Metta (Loving Kindness) and Altruism as important elements of improving our wellbeing:
Almost all of our staff are local villagers as we have made significant efforts to train and employ those who couldn’t find employment before due to their lack of education and experience. Prior to joining us, they were either house wives or worked as maids in wealthier families for very little money. They are now trained an employed by our resort. We run a ‘family’ atmosphere with the hotel being directly involved in assisting the upliftment of their personal lives. These include:
- All training provided free whilst on the job whilst they receive salaries which is a cost to the hotel but it is important as they do not have any other source of income
- In addition to their salaries, all staff members receive 8% of our net sales on a monthly basis on a performance basis
- Every six months, profits are shared as a bonus based on their effort contribution
- Annual staff trip – we travel either on a day trip or a weekend trip to one of the most exclusive 5-star hotels in the country to experience what it is like to be in a hotel and experience service. Prior to coming to Plantation Villa, they have never seen a hotel before.
Family Assistance – high performing staff members are well looked after with the hotel assisting them with their medical bills, children school fees, financial planning advise, life planning advice etc.
LOCAL SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT:
- Provision of Books and Uniforms – When the retreat centre was set up in 2012, most village children had no uniforms or shoes. With the assistance of our guests, we have annually provided uniforms, books, stationary and shoes to all children.
- Guidance and Teaching – Our founder and our regular guests visit the schools periodically to teach and offer motivational discussions
- Performance incentives – The hotel provides incentives for students achieving higher grades. Those becoming first in class receive a goodie bag from the hotel filled with items that most kids love. It is offered as an incentive to focus on their studies. The hotel also is putting together a scholarship program to allow parents to also promote education amongst their children.
- Building Development – The hotel and our guests have been involved in a number of development projects in the local schools. We have build a play ground, roofing in school buildings, providing loud speaker systems and building of the computer lab, library and toilets.
LOCAL TEMPLE DEVELOPMENT:
Village life in Sri Lanka revolves heavily around the temple with the buddhist monks often playing the role of a counseller helping people make sense of life’s difficulties. We work with a number of the local temples to support these establishments as they survive solely on donation and rural villages, these can be few and far between. You can walk around the village to visit the temples we support.
- Assisting monks – Provide food and medicine for monks as and when needed and the temple is short of supplies.
- Building Development – We have funded a number of temple development projects such as roofing or tiling of temple buildings, providing the water system for the temple, donation of buddha statues, and funding and development of stupa.
FUN DAYS AND FREE MEDICINES OR FOOD DAYS:
- Annual Dinner and Chanting – There is also an annual dinner followed by an overnight buddhist chanting in the hotel to which all villagers are invited to join. It is an opportunity to villagers to partake in hotel facilities, enjoy a nice dinner, listen to chanting and discuss their problems with a wise buddhist monk.
- o Mommy and Me Parties – The hotel organises periodic parties for village kids and their moms to attend. The party will have lots of party food for kids, an opportunity to play and display their talents to the guests such as singing, dancing or giving a speech and receive gifts. Each kid will be given a goodie bag filled with toys, chocolate, and candy. Kids enjoy displaying their talents to our foreign guests as this is generally an opportunity only available for kids from popular drama schools in the capital.
- Village Festivals – the hotel sponsors many of the periodic village festivals such as the Annual New Year festival to provide light entertainment for villagers.
- Free Food Days – The hotel provides ‘dansala’ or free food days where a chosen item of food it provided free for anyone who comes. These are normally done on a ‘poya’ day, which is a buddhist holiday and the food stall is located at the steps of the temple and some item of food considered a ‘luxury’ in the village such as Ice Cream, Chocolate, Biscuit or a Meal is provided free to anyone and everyone who comes. The objective is to provide the villagers with a treat that they wouldn’t otherwise get and for us to practice non-attachment to the money we earn. It is important for us to earn money for the continued success of our operation, but we do not want to get attached to the money we earn and instead we want to give back to our community. It is a super fun and joyous event and we invite all our guests to join in.
- Free Medicine Days – We have provided days where villages can come and obtain free doctor consultations and medicines for their ailments. Many of the village elders do not take the necessary medicines due to lack of funds. We are trying to combat this through our free medicine days and our individual relief programs.
- Providing relief to individual needs – All of our villages know our concept so when there are needs they come to us. Each cases is assessed for its genuineness and the hotel provide relief for these villages. These instances include buying medicine or wheelchairs for elders, payment of school fees for a kid, or supporting a major surgery for a villager. We also send all our extra food to the Old Peoples Home near our Head Office along with medicine supplies as and when they need.