Usbim School was recommended to us by both the Zonal Director of Education in Wellawaya and the park warden of nearby Uda Walawe National Park, famous for its elephants.

The school was established to serve families settling in the area under the Uda Walawe irrigation project. 

However, the land is not that fertile and can only be cultivated during the rainy season.

The principal also told us that there had been some social problems because a large number of the mothers had left to work abroad as helpers.

The school wanted to combat this by opening a counselling room and thanks to HSBC's sponsorship, we were able to refurbish a library and counselling room in 2012. 

On re-visiting the school in 2013, we were told that a teacher cum counsellor was seeing about 20 students per month about a range of issues from bullying to neglect. 

We were also very impressed with the way the library was being run.

Our visit coincided with a special literature programme for students in grades six and eight. 

Prizes were awarded for the students who had borrowed and read the most books over the course of the year - 59 books for one boy in grade six and 68 books by one girl in grade eight.

The principal's own dedication to the school is obvious, but has a very sad history as his seven-year son was killed by a tractor in the school programme over a decade before.