The Community Organization
Having spent a few days travelling the long roads of the interior, I’m happy to be back in the bustling city of Kandy, located on a plateau in central Sri Lanka. Built on tiers on the mountainside, houses seem to float above the trees in a wonderful explosion of colours, while others stand more discreetly among palm trees. Kandy Lake sits at the city centre, its square island home to a stand of slender palm trees that seems to imitate a nearby fountain. It’s an artificial landscape, but it brings a calming vibe to an area where crossing the street is an extreme sport. The city of 125,000 has a well‑established tourism program with a royal botanical garden, a sapphire museum, a handful of Ayurvedic centres and a traditional dance troupe that includes fire breathers.
I’ve seen so much since my arrival in this country that my brain is overflowing in a way that reminds me of my days in lecture halls at university. This is the kind of learning I thrive on, but I’m starting to miss human contact. At the Sthree Café, I find what’s lacking. The space was created in collaboration with the Women’s Development Centre, an organization that provides employment opportunities to women and supports women entrepreneurs in the region (all profits are reinvested into the organization). “Sthree” means woman in Tamil and Sinhalese. I meet three sthrees here, one of whom is Isuru Harshana, who invites me to sit down before serving smoky black tea in a coconut teapot, followed by rolled crepes, coconut caramel and kokis.