Monthly Archives: February 2008

Debarawewa Groundbreaking Ceremony

Posted on by Jackie

Towards the end of 2007, the investment bank Credit Suisse, agreed to nearly triple its original US$20,000 donation to fund a landmark project at Debarawewa President’s Primary College.

This is one of the largest schools in the area with more than 3,000 pupils and its principal had been trying to set up a special needs centre for children who were falling outside the education system.

Credit Suisse agreed to finance the centre, which would comprise a large classroom for special needs children, a smaller classroom for deaf children as well as a library and computer lab for the other children at the school.

Getting the project off to a good start was very important to the Sri Lankans and we held a groundbreaking ceremony at an auspicious time in the Buddhist calendar to make sure it was a success. Pictured right are Mark and I laying the foundation stone.


Gangeyaya Library and Computer Lab

Posted on by mark

Completing this project was a particularly satisfying experience for us as a Sri Lankan friend told us the teachers never believed we were serious about doing anything for them.

When we first turned up to take photos of the prospective library and computer lab, they were overhead speculating that we would use these photos to raise money back in the UK, which we would keep for ourselves.

It was an eye-opening moment for us understanding local attitudes towards corruption and perceptions of foreign NGOS that come in, promise the earth and either don’t deliver, or are seen staying at five star hotels at their charity’s expense.

Pictured right are children at the opening ceremony singing about the dangers of eating peanuts


Nadigamwila Renovation

Posted on by mark

This was the first project for the Nadigamwila School and was just before he retired after many years of teaching in the Hambantota School district.

This was one of our smaller projects, but helped the school separate two classrooms by building an internal wall.


Karambagalmulla Library

Posted on by mark

This was our fourth opening ceremony in as many days and we were beginning to feel like foreign royalty thanks to the huge and warm welcome wherever went. Steve arrived in time to join Jackie and I for the opening ceremony at Karambagalmulla primary school, which is very close to Mulana School

We were particularly impressed by the principal of this school. He had gone to great lengths to brighten up the school using posters and artwork on the classroom walls and lots of plants in the school grounds.

After we agreed to renovate one of the classrooms and turn it into a library, the principal also found an old boy that had done well from life and who donated a large number of books for the library. Pictured right is Steve cutting the ribbon to the new library.


Mulana Computer Lab

Posted on by mark

This is another school recommended to us by Mr Piyasensa, Zonal Director of Education for the Hambantota area. The school is about an hour’s drive away from Tissa back up the coast towards Galle and the furthest project we have done to date.

However, Jackie and I both warmed to the principal, Mrs Sujeewa, who takes a very active interest in every child and has recommended a number of deserving pupils for our scholarship programme.

Mulana already had a library, but was desperate for a computer lab. Like Gamanapura School before it, there was a second room attached to the library which could be turned into a computer room at very little cost. As with all our other satellite labs, we installed six computers for the children to use.


Beralihela Library

Posted on by mark

This primary school was recommended to us by Mr Piyasena, the Zonal Director of Education for Hambantota and the surrounding area. Mr Piyasena has been incredibly helpful in pin pointing schools for us.

In each case, they have been schools with dynamic principals but basic facilities.

Beralihela is one such school in a very rural location. Getting to it involved bumping down a large number of very small tracks.

Again, we found a disused room, which did not require that much work to get it ready. So our main job was making sure we found lots of big picture books for the children to encourage their love of reading.

Jackie and I both attended the opening ceremony, one of the most colourful to date with lots of dancing and singing.


Kawantissapura Computer Lab

Posted on by Jackie

This project is a perfect example of how good intentions can be tripped up if the sustainability of the donation is not thought through. We were alerted to this by the smiley priest from Kande Viharaya Temple, who is also the vice principal of the school.

We found that an English company had donated 12 computers after the tsunami. But no one had considered whether the school could use them or not. We discovered them gathering dust because the school had no electricity.

Some years ago it had been connected to the grid, but the principal had run up a huge bill and was unable to pay it off. A stand off then ensued between the electricity company and the Department of Education.

We cleared the US$800 electricity bill and sealed off a classroom to create a proper lab with desks and chairs.