Five years ago, a few good seemingly ordinary people got together and formed Ghedora-Connects, a platform which began as an online community to share the stories of the voiceless struggling but don’t ask for help and instead do the best they can to survive. This platform’s aim was to voice these stories in order to create a more compassionate community because they simply believe kindness is contagious. This network of sorts focuses on encouraging random acts of kindness consistently in order to create a more compassionate community; it focuses mostly in Colombo but has a few projects in other parts of the country as well.
They started out as a small second-hand stall at the Good Market and as time went on, they began to form into a more solid and directed organisation. Through this, within five years, it has been able not just to do one-time charities, but also to provide sure sources of income to those who previously barely had any way of earning. What they do at Ghedora is primarily identifying individuals struggling in life and finding out what they can do to keep earning. They essentially help those who do not ask for help but certainly need it.
The Founder, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared that these people are in reality already entrepreneurs; they simply don’t know how to manage their finances and conduct a business in a sustainable manner. What she does with her movement is teaching them just that and lending them a helping hand to get through their daily struggles in life as most have been shunned or forgotten by society and their own families and are in need of a friend.
She spoke about how some of these people have little shops of their own or, while most of them are women, provide a few extra snacks to shops near their homes to make an extra income to support their families. These ladies already have so much talent, but they are shy and/or afraid as most women are in Sri Lanka, and so they need to be patiently guided to think outside the box and develop their small businesses to achieve their dreams. This is where Ghedora links them with Good Market clients who generally value supporting small businesses and are aware of social enterprises in order to develop their own businesses.
One of their new projects this year, which they launched during lockdown, is called “Ghedora Kaama”, meaning home-cooked food; this is cooked by ladies from low-income homes or single moms struggling but doing their best to survive.
They began every Sunday and now have a larger menu and are able to provide more food weekly as they have more cooks too. Every item is contributed by many families and they encourage eco-packaging with the use of banana leaves too. These leaves are sourced by another “brave soldier” – as the Founder said they like to term those they help – who earns income through a small home business of selling the banana leaves, which is certainly sustainable both economically and environmentally.
These weekend special lunches include a truly unique surprise. They are called “#BathHappyMeals”, as it is somewhat like happy meals available at fast food outlets but perhaps even better, as it makes more than one family happy and comes with a surprise toy inside. These toys aren’t made out of harmful plastic but instead are handmade out of paper by a few little kids who get paid for the toys they make in order to raise money for their education and help teach them to save for a rainy day. This is also a way for these kids, most of whom come from very sad circumstances and family backgrounds, to heal through art.
While Ghedora finds business opportunities for their clients; they also help them in many other ways such as medical issues and operations, where they channel doctors for them, take them for appointments, and ensure they understand what has been prescribed. Mainly, they are encouraged not to worry too much, which most tend to do due to a lack of awareness and understanding.
Most of their donors like to remain anonymous, as do their volunteers, as they all believe in not letting the left hand know what the right hand does, and pray daily to be a blessing to someone in need every day. When it comes to purchasing brand-new items, however, what they did during this lockdown period as an extension of their project “Gifts of Love” was to buy groceries for those who needed it and give it to them as presents, which is something they usually do during festivals such as Christmas.
“This year was the year we were to launch a few new projects and didn’t realise how timely they would be,” shared the Founder in regard to the work they did this year. “It was heart-warming to see the support we have got for our corona relief work. Special mention to PickMe Foods riders who we used for deliveries to individual homes; we booked Sathosa packs and paid them extra for the delivery to those we could not do ourselves as only two of us (one in Gampaha and another in Colombo) were going out for distributions. The Disaster Management team also played a huge role in helping us. Sakeenah Foundation, Keells Super, Endurance Labs, many influencers, and a whole new bunch of angels in disguise and volunteers stepped up to use their voice for the voiceless, which has been a dream come true for us. Our main mission is to connect those from well-to-do homes with those who are struggling in order to reduce poverty and empower single women.”
Ghedora-Connects’ volunteer team is growing and their Founder is delighted to see the interest she is getting from the younger generation of Sri Lanka, who are largely enthusiastic and genuine about helping those in need. “Those who help each other grow together” is what this extraordinary team believes in and are extremely hopeful for the future post Covid-19; if we all continue to be as kind in true Sri Lankan spirit.
Ghedora, just like its name, focuses on connecting all classes of people together through consistent random acts of kindness to create a more compassionate community of human-“kinds” and not “unkinds”.