November: Sri Dewananda IT Lab Renovation

It was very pleasing to project manage the renovation of this school's computer lab, which had 20 computers originally donated by the Asian Development Bank.

SRI had been able to keep fixing them with new parts, but the schools was eventually down to just one computer.

It was very generous of Sri Lanka’s largest private sector bank, Commercial Bank, to fund the project, which was overseen by its branch manager in Tissamaharama, Syamal Fernando.

November: Elephant Awareness Event

We held our third awareness event of the year at Uda Matala School.

We chose this school as there are often elephants in the school grounds because it is part of their home range.

They have previously damaged some of the school buildings and the villagers have to be very careful when they are out on the road at night.

I (project manager) Jaya held a session with grade nine students explaining different aspects of elephant behaviour, why there has been human/elephant conflict in Sri Lanka and what we can do to manage it. .

November: National Reconciliation Convention

Project manager Jaya participated at this convention as one of 33 members representing the government and NGOs from Hambantota District.

Sri Lanka's President, Maithripala Sirisena, pictured left, gave the main speech.

He discussed why Sri Lanka needs a new constitution so all members of society can work together and gunfire is never heard in our country again.

November: Community Class 56 Starts

Most of our community classes these days are for post O-level and post A-level students.

But in November, we also began a new class for older community members who want to learn computing.

The new class comprises 12 members who hope to use their new IT skills in their jobs around the town.

October: 55 Community Class Starts

We have begun an additional community class in October for A-level students who sat their exams in August and are waiting their results.

This is an additional class to the ones we began in September and is for the students who missed that start date.

There are 16 students on the new course, which will run for five months.

October: KG03 TV Donation

We would like to thank HSBC, which has been a huge support to the charity over the past decade. Its latest donation comprises seven TVs, which we have donated to schools in the Tissa area.

All of the computers have 40 inch screens and were formerly installed in the bank’s offices and branches in Colombo.

The donation to KG03 primary school is particularly apt since HSBC also funded the construction of a library here a few years ago.

October: Kandagasmankada TV donation

This is the third TV donation we have made to a special needs unit thanks to the generosity of HSBC, which has donated seven TVs.

Special needs children really benefit from being able to watch and learn from TV programmes and this school as a unit with 16 children.

The school itself was started in 1980 a part of the Lunugamvehera irrigation project.

October: Pallemattala TV Donation

This is a tiny little primary school situated very close to the new Mattala airport.

It currently has 84 students, up from nine when the principal first arrived 12 years ago.

However, the school has not been developed by the government in that time period and has few facilities.

A few years ago, SRI gave the school a computer and thanks to HSBC it now has a TV with a 40 inch screen as well.

October: Medawelena TV Donation

This is the first donation we've been able to make to the special needs classroom at Medawelena School.

It's thanks to the generosity of HSBC, which has donated a total of seven TVs that were formally used by its offices and branches in Colombo.

The TV is a great addition to the school as the special needs unit has very few facilities and the classroom itself is not in good repair.

For example, it does not have a proper ceiling and the floor is in bad condition.

October: Uduwila TV Donation

Thanks to a donation from HSBC, SRI has been able to deliver TVs to a group of schools in the Tissa area.

Uduwila School was top of the list because SRI has previously created a special needs centre there.

Special needs children really benefit from being able to watch, listen and copy what they see on the screen.

This is the first electrical item in the classroom.

October: Sumudu Teaching Assistant

Thanks to a donation from Cate Thomas and her brother John Skutsch, we were able to continue sponsoring a teaching assistant at the Sumudu pre-school in Lunugamvehera.

Cate and John both previously lived in Sri Lanka and have raised funds for a number of schools over the years.

This includes Sumudu where they renovated and fitted out the school classroom.

October: MCTC Programming Seminar

We would like to thank Dilan Anushka and Amil Kanchana for coming to Tissa from the Colombo.

The two software engineers volunteered their time to come to teach students who are studying for a one-year diploma course at the MCTC.

Dilan conducted a Java session and Amil UI/UX.

September: Dehigahalanda Teaching Assistant

The CIMA- and Foundation of Goodness-sponsored special needs centre at Dehigahalanda School has been going from strength since it was opened in February 2017.

Increased students numbers led the government to appoint a second teacher to join Ms Udari.

CIMA has also begun funding a teaching assistant, Miss Chamodi, as well.

September: Human Elephant Conflict Seminar

Project manager Jaya conducted a seminar at Lunugamvehera National Park about human elephant conflict in association with the Park Warden, Mr Chintaka.

Mr Chintaka is creating an elephant corridor next to the park for the elephants so they can maintain their home range.

It is a big problem in this area because the population is growing and they want to increase their cultivation across land the elephants use.

September: HSBC Sponsorship Students

We took a group of four university students studying in Colombo to meet Dilini Fernando (left), HSBC’s Corporate Sustainability Manager in late August.

Over the past two years, the bank has sponsored nearly 250 students to mark its 150th global anniversary.

All four thanked HSBC for their grants, which are being used to pay for food and study materials.

September: Community Classes 53 & 54 Start

Community classes 53 and 54 have begun after the completion of A-level exams in August while students are waiting for their results.

A total of 45 students joined the classes.

Most of them signed up, after we pamphleted them when they came out of their exam centres.

August: Shangri-La Garage Sale

The Shangri-La Golf Resort and Spa in Hambantota held its second garage sale to raise funds for a library development programme.

A total of Rs75,930 was raised from the sale of lost and found items.

The hotel also has an 2% employment target for people with disabilities and SRI was extremely pleased when two of our former deaf students - Nipuna and Owinda – were given jobs there late last year. Nipuna is pictured top row, second from right.

July: Community Classes 51 and 52 Start

Community classes 51 and 52 were launched after the completion of O-level exams in December while students were waiting for their results.

A total of 12 students sat for the final exam in the second week of July 2017 and all passed.

The highest mark of 72% was recorded by Binuri Kavishka Achinthi from Debarawewa Central College. She is in the science stream.

June: Flood Relief

Students at the computer centre joined together to help collect food and other necessary essentials for people affected by the devastating floods, which killed more than 100 people and wrecked nearly 2,000 homes in May.

Among the items collected were: food, stationary, school bags, soap, toothpaste, nappies, clothes, water, pillows and sleeping mats.

We distributed the items to families in the Deniyaya area, which was particularly badly affected.

It is close to Matara, one of the biggest towns in Southern Province.

June: Nisansala's Job

We were very happy to help our intern Nisanasala to find a job as a computer operator at an electronics shop in Tissamaharama.

She was with us for a couple of years, giving the students practical advice and help alongside our MCTC teachers.

We chose her because she had shown great aptitude when she first came to the centre as part of community batch 28 after she finished her A-levels.

May: HSBC Sponsorship Students

We recently marked the second anniversary of our most recent partnership with HSBC, which is sponsoring over 240 students.

The programme covers O-level, A-level, university or vocational students.

Nearly all the students come from the Hambantota, Ambalantota and Galle educational zones in Southern province, although the university and vocational level students are based at institutions all over the country.

May: Community Classes 46 to 50 Finish

We completed community classes 46 to 50 in May.

There were 52 students who sat the final exam.

Two of them didn't quite reach the required pass level so we arranged some extra revisions classes and then asked them to sit for the exam again.

By the end of the month both these two students also passed as well.

April: Shangri-La Garage Sale

The Shangri-La Hotel in Hambantota held its first garage sale in early April to raise funds for a joint library development programme.

A total of Rs31,630 was raised over a two-day period from the sale of lost and found items, plus donations from hotel staff.

February: Dehigahalanda Special Needs Lab

Thanks to a donation from CIMA Students Society and the Foundation of Goodness, Dehigahalanda School got a refurbished special needs unit in mid-February.

Much of the effort raising the money was thanks to two of the society’s board members - Abdul Qadeer and Amjad Rahim - from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants’ Colombo branch.

They enlisted the help of another Sri Lankan NGO, the Foundation of Goodness, and held a number of fundraising events for their newly established programme: Education Beyond Ability.

This targets special needs children across the country as they felt that they have been particularly neglected by the education system.

The unit at Dehigahalanda School was established by the principal, Mr Dharmasiri, when he first arrived a few years ago.

However, the classroom was not in a very good condition and there was little equipment.

CIMA’s donation enabled a complete refurbishment including tiling the floor, re-plastering the walls and installing electricity.

The society’s members also concluded a range of equipment from Colombo for the children and their teacher, Ms Udari Ranaweera.

February: ICT Revision Class Starts

This month we started a new ICT Revision Class for grade 10 students with participation from 20 students.

They mainly come from Osuwinna, Ranminithanna, Beralihella, Mahasenpura and Tissamaharama Schools.

This is a one-year course and is a supplement to their normal school classes.

Feb: Osuwina Repairs

Nuwan was back at Osuwinna School as part of his regular repairs in the area.

He particularly likes going to this school as it has a good lab that was sponsored by SRI donor Cate Thomas and her brother John Skutsch.

Feb: Elephant Awareness Event I

We held our first elephant awareness event of the year at Osuwina School.

The School is right on the edge of Yala National Park so there are a lot of elephants in the area and plenty of conflict with villagers trying to grow their crops.

I (Jaya) set up a training session for grade nine students to educate them about elephant behaviour and try to forestall potential problems when they are adults.

This photo is from a nearby rubbish dump where elephants congregate.

January: Sponsorship Students Trip

SRI directors Jackie Horne and Jonathan Back were in Sri Lanka during January and took a group of sponsorship students on a safari to Bundala National Park.

The park is most famous for its wetlands.

There are a huge number of birds and crocodiles, plus quite a few elephants.

However, one of the biggest highlights is always driving up and down over the sand dunes in Teddy's jeep.

We rounded off the trip with time on the beach at sunset.

January: Sponsorship Students

Pictured centre is sponsorship student Chalana Sathsara and his family.

Chalana has just completed his A-levels at Debarawewa Central College in the commerce stream.

His cousin, pictured far left also attended our special needs centre at Debarawewa President's Primary College.

His father died after being bitten by a snake while he was tending his paddy fields.