Sri Lankan association bands together to clean up forts
Members of the recently formed Sri Lankan Association of Bermuda rolled up their sleeves this weekend to help the St George’s Foundation.
About 60 members of the organisation took part in a clean-up at Fort Victoria and Fort Albert on Sunday as part of efforts to restore the historic structures left derelict after the closure of Club Med.
SLAB member Sudath Ariya said the group had formed in November and selected the clean-up as their first act of community service.
“Bermuda has given us so much so we wanted to give something back,” he said. “I came to Fort Albert once before and I saw that it was a real part of Bermuda’s heritage and needed to be protected.
“I felt so bad that it had been neglected, so I told the SGF that I had a team that could help you. And hear we are today.
“We have about 100 members and we have had about 60 come to help make this place beautiful again.”
Mr Ariya said that the newly formed group hoped to expand and bring together more of the Sri Lankans who live on the island to network, support each other and celebrate their culture.
Peter Barrett, president of the SGF, said he was blown away by the level of support that SLAB had shown.
“They are helping us to restore two Unesco World Heritage Sites, so we are delighted they came out – really en masse,” he said.
“It’s not usual that when someone says 45 people are coming out that you get 45 people. Usually you can divide that by two or three.”
“They are really doing all that they can for us to move forward.”
Mr Barrett said more work must still be done at the forts, including clearing invasive trees that have overtaken the edges of the fort.
He said that while the hilltop locations were vital for the forts purpose of protecting the island, it now meant the sites could offer residents and visitors outstanding views of the East End.
“Now that we have a new bridge into Fort Albert, a great many more tourists will want to visit these sites,” he said.
“These are historical gems. They are historical monuments that many jurisdictions around the world would give their right arm for, and we are not really using it in the way we ought to.”
Nirosha Fernando, the secretary for SLAB, added: “We are very happy to be out here and the participation has been even higher than we expected.”
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