December: Tissapura School Science Lab
This was a project on behalf of another NGO called The Yala Fund, which is based in the UK.
We renovated a classroom at a cost of US$3,700 to create a science lab.
We sealed one classroom, which included adding wire mesh over the holes where windows should be.
Once that was completed, we installed a water line and purchased some big benches so the students could do their experiments properly.
We also bought some new equipment including a few microscopes (pictured left).
December: Osuwina School Principal's Office
A second project on behalf of the Yala Fund was the renovation of the principal's office at Osuwinna School.
It seemed like a fitting project as we'd already renovated all the classrooms and created a computer lab and library.
It seemed a shame that the man who'd done so much to improve standards had been left with a very dilapidated office.
Most of this project was executed by the principal, Mr Disanayake, and we acted as a conduit for the funds, which amounted to about US$600.
December: Weligatha School Water Tank
This was the fourth of five projects that we executed for The Yala Fund.
This was a fairly straightforward project at a cost of US$653.
It was also very good for the school, which is situated in one of the driest zones of the Tissa district, close to Bundala National Park.
Lack of water is a real problem in the area, which is far more arid than other parts of Sri Lanka.
December: MCTC CCF Classes
We have begun a series of after-school classes at the MCTC.
These are run on behalf of CCF, an NGO based in nearby Hambantota for children at different schools in the area.
December: Ikkapalama School Renovations
This project involved finishing the junior school block where there was, as usual, open spaces instead of windows.
We fixed grilles in place of windows for four classrooms at a cost of US$3,000.
All the schools prefer grilles to windows. They last for longer than glass, which is easily smashed.
They are also better for letting air flow through the classrooms to mitigate the stifling heat.
November: Debarawewa Allagala Renovations
Many teachers live in the schools where they work because they often come from other parts of Sri Lanka.
It's also a good way for the government to help with their accommodation because the Department of Education may move them to another school at short notice.
This photo is of the teachers quarters post renovation thanks to a donation from the UK-based Yala Fund.
November: Karambagalmulla Playground Equip
This was our first project for another NGO called the Yala Fund, which is based in the UK.
This was a good project because Karambagalmulla is a primary school, but the children don't have any playground equipment.
The school is also remote so there is nowhere else they can play either.
November: Mulana School IT Equipment
Pictured left is SRI Director Mark Bucknall and the principal of Mulana School, Mrs Sujeewa.
We gave the school some equipment for the new computer lab and library including a DVD player and some UPS equipment to smooth the electricity supply.
November: Karambagalmulla School IT Lab
This was our second project at the school following the establishment of a library.
We were happy to fund this as we liked the way the principal was running the library.
He had also already gone some way to creating a lab by sealing off one of the smaller classrooms.
November: Weligatha School Library
We got to know the principal during his previous incarnation as music teacher at Mahasenpura School.
We liked him a lot and wanted to help after he was promoted to a small school just off the main road from Tissa to Hambantota.
The school didn't have much in the way of facilities beyond a string of classrooms.
So we created a library and computer lab along similar lines to the ones we established earlier in the year.
November: Weligatha School IT Lab
Creating a computer lab at Weligatha School had a double meaning for the charity.
We not only liked the principal but two of the computer teachers at our Mahasenpura Community Training Centre (MCTC) attended the school when they were children too.
November: KG01 School Kitchen
This is a very remote primary school close to Lunugamvehera National Park and is very small with just 90 students.
But it does have a very good principal and he wanted to build a kitchen so the school could give the children a morning drink and lunch.
The school had managed to secure enough money for most of the building work, but needed a further US$350 to finish the roof.
We were happy to oblige.
September: Weerahela School Trip
The biggest reaction that I (SRI Director Jackie Horne) have ever experienced at an opening ceremony in Sri Lanka was when I told the pupils at Weerahela that we would pay for the entire school to go on a three-day trip across Sri Lanka.
I was further amazed when the principal said that he had never seen the sea before. This was despite the fact that he lives in Tissa only an hour away from the coast by bus.
But it was good to hear because it underlined the benefit of school trips.
This is especially the case for inland children who don't get the opportunity to travel even in their own country let alone abroad.
Weerahela is a small, rural school with only about 80 pupils.
Hiring a bus did not cost that much (about US$200 per day). However, the impact was great in terms of broadening the students' horizons and deepening their knowledge about their own country.
Here they are pictured getting on a boat to try and spot some whales off the coast near Galle.
August: Kirinda Muslim School Photocopier
This donation followed request by the Principal, Mr Alamudeen.
Kirinda’s distance from Tissa made life difficult for Mr Almudeen.
He had to make a special trip to the town’s communications shop every time he needed to get a photocopy of something.
The school was re-built by Save The Children after the tsunami but it lacked many of the soft facilities.
July: Credit Suisse Special Needs Centre
Credit Suisse sent over its Indian Chief Operating Officer, Shekar Ganesh for the opening ceremony of the special needs centre at Debarawewa President’s Primary College in late June.
The bank funded a special needs building, which teaches about 30 children with a range of disabilities ranging from autism to Down’s syndrome. There is also a separate classroom for deaf children, which has nine students.
As part of the project, we took all the deaf children to a specialist centre near Galle to get their hearing tested. As a result of this, we were able to swap their primitive hearing aids, which looked more like MP3 players, in favour of modern digital hearing aids that could be wrapped round their ears.
We hoped this meant that some of the children could be taught how to speak as they had previously just been using sign language. To boost the chances of this happening, we had a long mirror installed in the classroom so they could see themselves articulating sounds.
We also purchased a special hearing set in England, which enables the teacher to talk through a microphone to receptors the children wear around their necks.
June: Weerawila Orphanage Children's Party
We came across Weerawila Lama Nikethanaya children’s home through our project manager Jaya.
He knew the owner, Mr Bandara, a local lawyer and his wife.
What's really striking is the level of dedication that both of them have shown, both in terms of setting the home up in the first place and the way they run it today.
Nearly all of the children living there have suffered some form of abuse. Many are also orphans.
The Bandaras try to give each child a sense of family by creating mini homes.
Each home has 10 children and one house mother. Many of these house mothers are former children who grew up in the home.
The grounds are also incredibly clean and tidy thanks to Mr Bandara’s determination to create a beautiful environment for the children to grow up in.
He encourages them to think about their surroundings by enlisting them in the daily gardening work too.
Pictured left are some of children with gifts at a special party we held.
Some of the gifts were purchased in Sri Lanka and some were donated by Diana Footitt and her family in Hong Kong.
The latter were brought over to Sri Lanka by SRI Directors Steve Irvine and Jonathan Back.
We presents distributed the present at a special party we held one afternoon.
It was hard to tell who had the most fun – the children playing musical chairs, or Apple fan Steve acting as DJ with his iPod and speakers.
February: DPPC Groundbreaking Ceremony
Towards the end of 2007, the Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse, agreed to nearly triple its original US$20,000 donation.
This was made after tsunami and we decided to use it 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 so it felt like a very deserving recipient.
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 and a smaller classroom for deaf children.
The funds also enabled us to build an even larger building with a library and computer lab for the other children at the school too.
Getting the project off to a good start is always very important to the Sri Lankans.
So we held a groundbreaking ceremony at an auspicious time in the Buddhist calendar to try to ensure sure that it was a success.
Pictured left are SRI Directors Mark Bucknall and Jackie Horne laying the foundation stone.
Pictured above are some of the students who put on a special show to mark the occasion.
February: Gangeyaya School Library
Completing this project was particularly satisfying as a friend told us the teachers never believed that we were serious about doing anything.
When we originally turned up to take photos of the prospective library and computer lab, they'd speculated that we'd use them to raise money, which would then keep for ourselves.
It was an eye-opening moment: understanding local attitudes towards corruption and perceptions towards foreign NGOS that come in, promise the earth and then either don’t deliver, or stay at five star hotels at their charity’s expense.
February: Gangeyaya School IT Lab
Opening ceremonies are an important part of Sri Lankan culture.
They always begin with the school band leading in local dignatories. The very first step is the bugle call, pictured front.
I (SRI Director Jackie Horne) took it just as we were about to go into the opening ceremony for the computer lab we build and furnished at the school.
February: Nadigamwila School Classroom
This was our first project for Nadigamwila School and also for its principal, just before he retired.
This was one of our smaller projects. But it was one that helped the school.
We separated two classrooms by building an internal wall that enabled them to function without disturbing each other.
February: Karambagalmulla School Library
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.
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.
After we agreed to renovate one of the classrooms and turn it into a library, he also found an old boy who had done well from life and agreed to donated a large number of books for the library.
February: Mulana School IT Lab
This school was recommended to us by Mr Piyasensa, Zonal Director of Education for the Hambantota area.
We immediately warmed to the principal, Mrs Sujeewa, who we soon learnt, takes a very active interest in every child.
Mulana had a library, but was desperate for a computer lab. There was a second room attached to the library which could be turned into one at very little cost.
As with all our other satellite labs, we installed six computers for the children to use.
February: Beralihela School Library
Beralihela is a tiny, rural school with almost no facilities and was recommended to us by Mr Piyasena, the Zonal Director of Education in Hambantota.
What the school did have was a disused classroom, which did not require that much work to turn it into a library.
Our main job was making sure we found lots of big picture books for the children to encourage their love of reading.
We also try to buy colourful furniture for junior school libraries to create a more fun environment.
February: Kawantissapura School IT Lab
This project is a perfect example of how good intentions can be tripped up if the sustainability of the donation is not thought through properly.
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 after running up a bill it couldn't pay 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.