December: Sponsorship Students

Pictured left is our new sponsorship student Nisansala outside her house with her mother, brother and sister.

She was recommended to us by both the school principal and the deputy principal who is also the chief priest at neighbouring Kande Viharaya Temple where we have been sponsoring English classes since 2008.

We would like to thank Artemis in Hong Kong for kindly agreeing to sponsor Nisansala and her family in addition to making a general donation to the charity.

Nisansala's family fell into financial difficulties after her father was diagnosed with cancer and they had to sell everything including their previous home to pay for his treatment prior to his death.

Her mother is now working as a labourer to support the family.

Nisansala's teachers say that she is an incredibly hard working pupil and loves reading.

She told Project Manager Jaya that she would like to become an air hostess when she leaves school.

She hopes this job will enable her to travel and visit different places across the world.

December: Sri Dewananda Library

This was the second library renovation of the month thanks to a donation by the UK's JG Hogg Charitable Trust.

Sri Dewananda is one of the bigger schools in the Tissa area and has both a junior and senior school.

It is one of only two schools, which take children who do well in their grade five exams - ie the school is the equivalent to a old-style British grammar school.

One of Sri Dewananda's main problems was a very old library and not many books between its 1,200 students.

See bottom photo of how the library looked pre-renovation.

The good news was that the basic structure was pretty sound unlike many other schools operating libraries in disused classrooms.

However, there were many other problems.

These included cracked windows, a broken ceiling, furniture that was falling to pieces, very few book shelves and even fewer books, most of which were in a very tatty condition and held together by tape.

The outside of the building was also not in a great condition with cracked concrete and peeling paint.

Thanks to the donation, we were able to solve all of those problems and buy a lot more books from Colombo.

We also purchased a colourful animal and jungle mural, which came from the UK.

We hope this will be the first of many projects at the school whose motto is "the truth will out."

It has a very efficient and friendly principal Mrs Ramyalatha who was very helpful throughout the project.

December: Nadigamwila English Lab

This is now one of the most beautiful schools not just in Tissa, but in the whole of Sri Lanka.

That is almost solely down to the efforts of its principal, Mr Kumarasinghe who was once an agricultural teacher. He used that training and the country’s natural beauty to create stunning grounds with plants and foliage.

He also does his best to keep the classrooms in pristine condition even though the school has very little money. So it was not very surprising that he took our renovation of a disused classroom to a new level when we created an English lab.

Being able to do so was thanks to a donation from two SRI Directors - Steve Irvine and Mei Zhang, plus Rod Sykes and his family in Hong Kong alongside the JG Hogg Charitable Trust in the UK.

Mr Kumarasinghe invited one of his friends down from Colombo to create a very colourful mural, which pictures all the different animals in Sri Lanka captioned with their English names.

The school has also created a word tree and painted the planets of the solar system on the ceiling.

We hope the lab will inspire the children to improve their English. It's very noticeable how it is often the students' worst mark.

Many don’t realise how important it is until they get close to leaving school and thinking about jobs, by which point it is hard to catch up.

December: DPPC Library Renovation

Thanks to a donation from the UK's JG Hogg Charitable Trust we have been able to help Debarawewa President’s Primary College to upgrade its library.

The school had a good building but almost no furniture and very few books.

This was not a great situation given that there are over 4,000 children at the school.

It also has some of the highest and most grade five pass marks per school in the whole country.

Nimeshika, our Finance Manager sends her daughter Nethu to the school.

She is currently in grade two, but has only ever visited the library twice because it does not have enough books.

She is also not allowed to take any books home to read.

JG Hogg's donation enabled us to buy proper tables and chairs for both the junior and senior sections of the library as well as a lot of new books. We also re-painted the outside.

Pictured left is Poojana. He is the nephew of another SRI team member, Teddy and is also at the school.

February: Diploma IV starts

It was great to kick off the year with our fourth one-year diploma class.

This class is geared towards students who have completed the three-month Microsoft Certificate Course.

They delve deeper into modules covering Microsoft Word and hardware as well as new subjects covering programming and graphic design.

November: PowerPoint Competition

We held our annual PowerPoint competition. Some 13 schools entered the competition, which offered pen drivers and A4 paper for the winning entries.

This year’s winner was Chamod Jayathrika from Debarawewa Central College.

He also entered last year when he came fourth.

This year’s winning entry was all about how to create an IT networking system.

November: ICT Seminar

Every year, we organise and fund a one-day seminar for students about to sit their O-level computer (ICT) exams.

This year, a total of 87 students attended from 17 schools in the area.

We organise the seminar in association with the Department of Education in nearby Hambantota.

We also seek the support from all IT teachers at schools in the area. Here are some pictured left with SRI's MCTC team.

Former students of the Mahasenpura Community Training (MCTC) Centre also came along for the day to help out as volunteers.

In order to accommodate everythone, we took over four classrooms at the school in addition to the MCTC.

The students completed a series of one-hour sessions where they sat different parts of the ICT exam and then went over the answers in a group discussion.

The student with the highest mark won a prize.

This seminar was made possible thanks to our funding from Barclays Bank in the UK.

November: Community Class 42 Starts

Pictured left some of the students who have joined Community Class 42 studying the Microsoft Office Certificate Course.

These students are all A-Level leavers who sat their exams in August.

Most of them will not have had much practical experience even though IT is now part of the school curriculum.

November: Community Classes 39 - 41 Start

The autumn months are always busy at the MCTC.

This is when we hold all our Microsoft Community Computer Certificate Courses for post A-level leavers.

Here are two of the current crop of students learning Microsoft Word.

Nuwan is teaching Class 39 Thushari 40 and Tharindu 41.

October: Weligatha School Trip

Thanks to a kind donation from the Reoch family in England, we could organise a school trip for Weligatha School.

Project Manager Jaya and Project Officer Teddy took 48 students, four teachers, a number of parents and both the new principal and old principal on the trip.

The children always like to sing when they are on the bus and this time there was a boy who was playing the drums as well.

The first observation point was Rawana Ella falls.

Then we (reports Jaya) came to Demodara railway station. Most students had not experienced travelling on a train before.

Next stop was a New Zealand dairy farm in Ambewela followed by lunch at the Highland Milk Factory.

Then it was on to Nuwara Eliya, the capital of the tea country.

While we were there we tasted strawberries and pears, which many of the children had not tried before.

Our final stop was Gregory Tank, a very beautiful lake.

We did more singing and dancing with our drummer on the bus coming home.

October: Nadigamwila School Trip

We (Project Manager Jaya and Project Officer Teddy) took 74 of the older students on a bus with 11 staff members including the Principal to mark World Children's Day.

In order to fit in as much as possible we left at 3am from the school.

Our first stop was at Ella where there are beautiful waterfalls.

Then we drove to Demodara railway station. This is a very famous station built during the British period in the early 1920′s. We took a two-hour journey to Ambelewa.

When we left the train we went to a farm and observed many different animals including goats, cattle and rabbits. The farmer showed them how they feed the animals, how they milk them and treat them when they are ill.

Our lunch stop was a milk factory. After that we proceeded to Nuwara Eliya, the capital of the tea country.

Our next stop was a big tank. Here it was very misty and the children had their first experience in this climate as Tissa is very dry.

All the children were wearing jumpers and hats, which they found very exciting.

The students had some cookies and banana while the teachers prepared dhal curry for dinner.

The teachers paid for all the food themselves to help the students.

We had a very good time thanks to Robert and Georgina Reoch from the UK who funded our trip.

September: Kids Class IV and V Start

Some 11 students successfully completed the exam for this introduction course.

Top marks went to KDH Ashen Viduranga who scored 98%.

Most of the students who attended this class are in grade five.

They learnt basic drawing with MS Paint and typing with Notepad.

At the end of the course they sat a practical test where they had to draw their own picture and write about themselves using the computer.

September: Community Class 38 Starts

Community Class 40 has begun every Wednesday.

This class is filled with A-levels students who sat their exams during the summer and are waiting for their results, which they will get later this year.

Nearly all will go onto university or further training.

September: Hardware III Starts

We started our third hardware class under the guidance of deputy MCTC manager, Nuwan, pictured overseeing some of his students.

This class always attracts a large contingent of male students (!).

Many of them are now helping Nuwan as he goes on his rounds to government schools to fix their computers.

September: Diploma III Finishes

It was great to see that eight students passed their final exam after studying for our one-year Diploma Course. A total of 15 students regularly attended over the course of the year.

Highest mark went to H.R Dulanjali who now works at a bank in the area. She got the opportunity to work there thanks to the computer knowledge she gained at the MCTC.

In her new job, she handles e-mail as well as data entry and cashier work.

We also gave an internship to a second diploma III student, Nisansala, pictured discussing the course with a fellow student.

September: Tissapura IT Parts Donation

This is one of the first schools we ever created a computer lab at.

MCTC deputy manager Nuwan makes regular visits to fix the computers and provide new parts.

Here he is pictured with the school's IT teacher handing over: one power unit, one UPS, one keyboard and a new mouse.

August: MCTC Deaf IT Class Starts

We have established a new class for a group of deaf students.

It was the initiative of a former student, Chamila (pictured right), who is deaf herself and we are also sponsoring as a trainee teacher.

Chamila is teaching some of the former students from the special needs unit including Nipuna left, Ashen centre and Owindu right.

August: Google Maps visits the MCTC

The person responsible for Google Maps is a friend of the MCTC centre's manager, Tharindu.

During the summer holidays, Tharindu invited him to the centre to meet some students.

He brought his car with him to explain how Google is mapping Sri Lanka’s geography.

August: Tissa Police Training

Over the summer, we established a special class for 12 officers from Tissa Police Station

The station currently only has two computers, although the head of the station has his own lap top which he brings to work.

The group studied the Microsoft Office Certificate Course to help them with their administrative duties at the station.

August: Bandarawela Library Book Donation

SRI donated some books to a library that was recommended for doing very good service for its local community.

It's located north of Tissa at the foothills of the tea country.

We went to Colombo to get some famous English novels, which have been translated into Sinhalese. These included Harry Potter and The Hobbit.

Project officer Teddy went to deliver the books to the librarian Miss Priyani.

Reader he is now marrying her!

August: Gamanapura IT Parts Donation

Just before the summer break, we donated some new IT parts to Gamanapura School after MCTC deputy manager Nuwan made one of his regular visits to fix the school’s hardware.

We donated: three power units, one mouse, two keyboards and eight CMOS batteries.

August: Yatala IT Parts Donation

This is a large school with 1,000 students. But they do not have an IT teacher, only a volunteer.

We are now bringing this teacher to the MCTC for training and have sent our own intern to the school to help out as well.

MCTC deputy manager Nuwan has also just repaired the school's existing computers and provided some replacement parts – two power units, one mouse and two keyboards.

July: Uda Matala IT Parts Donation

This school computer lab was funded by Barclays two years ago.

This month, deputy MCTC deputy manager Nuwan took some of the pupils from his hardware course to fix three computers.

Bringing the students is good training for them as it helps them to gain practical experience.

We also supplied some new hardware parts including two power units and new RAM.

July: Weligatha IT Parts Donation

MCTC deputy manager Nuwan always likes going back and fixing the computers at Weligatha School because this is where he originally went to school.

This time we supplied them with a new power unit, four UPS batteries and a motherboard.

July: Gunalankara Temple Classes

MCTC deputy manager Nuwan has been teaching IT at this temple every Sunday since we donated some used computers last June.

The temple has a school for trainee priests (Sri Sobitha Privena) and Nuwan is currently teaching 18 young men the basics of computing.

The Chief Priest believes IT and English are important so they can spread dharma (wisdom) to society.

June: Mulana IT Parts Donation

This school is quite a long way from Tissa, but MCTC deputy manager Nuwan often visits it on his rounds fixing computers across the whole of Hambantota District.

This month, we provided a new power unit, CMOS battery and VGA card.

June: Karambagalmula IT Parts Donation

This is a remote school quite a long way from Tissa and the teacher requested a printer as it takes a long time to get to the nearest shop that has any printing facilities.

Last month, MCTC deputy manager Nuwan fixed three computers and replaced some hardware items.

He also advised the teacher how to take care of the computers after he discovered one was broken because a gecko was living inside it.

June: Sri Dewananda IT Parts Donation

Nuwan took some of the students from his hardware class to try and fix the computers here.

The school has a big IT lab but the computers are now very old and on their last legs.

They were able to fix eight computers and provide some new parts.

This included: RAM (DDRI and II), 12 CMOS, one power switch, three mouse trackers, three keyboards, five hard discs, eight data cables and one monitor.

June: Viddyartha IT Furniture Donation

Viddyartha School has a new principal and is keen to turn the school’s computer lab into a community centre.

As a first step, we paid for 13 chairs.

Last year its pupils submitted 30 PowerPoint presentations for our annual PowerPoint competition and secured second and fifth places.

June: DPPC IT Parts Donation

Nuwan took some of the students from his hardware classes to visit the school.

It is one of the biggest in the Hambantota zone with over 100 students taking ICT in grade 10 and grade. 11.

The group fixed eight computers and the school now has 19 working.

We also supplied an array of new parts: one RAM (DDRII), three power units, one data cable, two power cables, eight CMOS and two UPS.

June: Uduwila IT Parts Donation

Nuwan handed over a mother board and fixed three computers when he recently visited Uduwila School.

While he was there, he also installed new operating systems and application softwares.

Two students from Udiwila school have also attended our ICT revision classes at the Mahasenpura Community Training Centre (MCTC) over the past year.

May: Thanamalwila IT Parts Donation

Thanamalwila Central College is a large school with 1,138 pupils, 30 minutes north of Tissa.

It is the equivalent of a UK grammar school and many of its students travel a long way each day from outlying villages.

The school has 12 computers, but only six were working.

MCTC deputy manager Nuwan was able to fix three of them.

We also supplied new parts: IDE cables, DDR1 RAM, CMOS batteries and some new hard discs.

May: Athbatuwa School Trip

This is a small rural school and it had not been able to go on a school trip for over a decade.

So this was a great trip to organise thanks to the generosity of the Reoch family from the UK.

Our (Project Manager Jaya and Project Officer Teddy) first stop was nearby Yala National Park where we saw lots of animals as we drove through.

Later in the day we stopped to meet Sri Lanka’s aboriginal people, the Veddas pictured left. They still use traditional hunting methods (bow and arrow) to capture deer and also tap honey from the park too.

We then headed further north to Polonnaruwa (pictured above) passing a few reservoirs on the way.

The first night’s accommodation was very basic in a temple and everyone slept on the floor together.

The next morning we explored the historical sights before heading to Sigiriya and we had lunch before climbing the famous rock, which was a great adventure for the children.

That night we stayed in Kandy at another temple.

The next day we explored Kandy and all the children were very happy because none of them had been before and it is Sri Lanka’s second most important city.

On our way back to Tissa, we went to Nuwara Eliya, the capital of the tea country.

May: Nadigamwila Chinese Class

SRI director Steve Irvine visited Sri Lanka with his wife Mei, who also volunteers for the charity and their daughter Heather.

Mei and Heather took the opportunity to teach a special Chinese class to some of the students at Nadigamwila School.

They explained how a couple of Chinese characters are formed and their underlying meaning using their arms to demonstrate.

Then the students took part in a Chinese painting competition. The Great Wall and Chinese flag proved very popular choices.

March: MCTC Leadership Training

We held our first leadership training programme for the MCTC’s computer club.

The day-long event was attended by 28 students, mainly A-level leavers.

One of the trainers was also a former MCTC student who volunteers with the Red Cross.

Participants had to complete a roster of activities, which aimed to teach them the benefits of team work.

March: Community Class Students

Students from MCTC classes held during the spring this year gather outside the centre for a group photo.

We are now starting community classes 34, 35 and 36 for O-level and A-level leavers.

February: Osuwina IT Parts Donation

This is one of the most rural schools we regularly visit. It has nine computers in a lab built by another UK NGO.

The principal requested some new parts during one of Nuwan’s recent visits.

We were able to supply them from a budget sponsored by Barclays Bank. This included six power cables, one monitor and one speaker.

February: Community 34 Starts

The community classes we start at the beginning of each calendar year are directed at O-level leavers who sat their exams in December.

However, the MCTC has been in operation for so long now that it also attracts a lot of other community members, typically in the 18 to 25 age bracket.

This class is being taught every Saturday by MTCT Manager Tharindu.