After the terrible pandemic years and time of serious economic and social challenges in Sri Lanka, Trustees were once again able to visit the island. In January and February 2023, Joy and David Cooper spent a most enjoyable few weeks catching up on various existing projects and developing new ones. They met children whose education we are supporting, visited schools and the work being done through various Rotary International global Grants.
The very latest project supported by various Rotary Clubs and a Global Grant is to establish an operating theatre at Peradeniya Teaching Hospital in Kandy, dedicated to surgical operations needed by pregnant women, their unborn babies and neonates. The mortality rate of women and babies in childbirth is high and hopefully this new theatre will save many lives.
As the pandemic continues, our donations which are part of Global Grants of Rotary International continue to do life-changing work. The money we donated to Peradeniya Hospital for surgical equipment and specialised equipment for diagnosis and treatment of cranio-facial deformities has resulted in the purchase of ‘state of the art’ equipment and the hospital to become a leader in this highly specialised field of medicine. This has enabled digital planning, simulations, design and construction of patient specific implants and prostheses for the purpose of management of severe cranio-facial deformities.
We are delighted to report success with applications for two new projects in association with the Rotary Club of Kandy. The first of these focuses on the donation of equipment to the Peradeniya Teaching Hospital in Kandy for the relief of pain. Numerous patients will enjoy a relatively pain free post-operative period, and pain free childbirth as a result of the grant we have been able to give. Our photo shows surgeons of the hospital receiving equipment from the grant during pandemic times.
The second project again provides equipment for Peradeniya Hospital, for the treatment of cranio-facial deformities. State of the art equipment will enable the surgical teams to treat deformities that otherwise would remain untreated. Both of these projects link Project Sri Lanka with the Rotary Club of Alnwick, UK; the Rotary Club of Kandy and are enhanced by Global Grants of Rotary International.
Sadly, the global pandemic brought to a halt all planned visits of Trustees throughout 2020. It is our great hope that the situation will soon change so that once again we will be able to meet our Rotarian, community, and charity colleagues on a face-to-face basis. Meanwhile dialogue progresses through virtual means and we are so delighted that we have been able to progress two Global Grants during the period of the pandemic.
Furthermore, we have made donations to families and individuals who are suffering severe hardship as a result of the significant economic downturn in Sri Lanka. So many people in the communities we support have lost jobs and livelihoods as a result of national lockdowns and so many families are in need of basic supplies of food and essentials. We hope for better and brighter days to come soon.
Volunteer Holly Eggleston spent three weeks in Sri Lanka in the autumn of 2019 undertaking placements in various medical establishments in order to gain experience prior to starting a medical degree in the UK. Holly spent time at the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy, a private hospital in Kandy, Mother Teresa’s home for destitute young woman and Peradeniya Teaching Hospital. She observed staff patients, routines and administration in all of these settings and enjoyed conversing with many of the medical teams that we have supported through our grants and donations as detailed on other pages of this website.
Chairman and Secretary of Trustees, Joy and David Cooper, visited Sri Lanka in February 2019. They attended the significant ceremony for the handing over of equipment for paediatric oncology at Peradeniya Dental Hospital in Kandy, visited a number of our other projects and held meetings with our community and Rotary partners in Colombo and in Kandy. They met with children in the Weligama area whose education we support on a regular basis. They also had the pleasure of attending the wedding of the daughter of the Senior Vice President of Kandy Rotary Club and former District Chair of Sri Lanka Inner Wheel.
Joy and David Cooper attended a ceremony for the handing over of equipment provided by our charity in association with the Rotary Club of Kandy and a Global Grant of matched funding from Rotary International. The equipment includes a large number of items to support paediatric oncology surgery. The ceremony programme also included a presentation on the work and obvious success of our oral cancer awareness, detection and treatment programme. Sincere thanks are due to those who run this programme on our behalf including the surgeons and staff of Kandy Dental Faculty and Cancer Care Services in Sri Lanka.
For thirteen years the Charity has been supporting young people in the Weligama area of Sri Lanka whose families and homes were decimated by the tsunami of Boxing Day 2004. Our scheme with these children of the Sarvodaya Society involved transferring donations from sponsors in the UK to the children in order to support their education.
At the start of the scheme there were 59 children involved and we agreed to support all of them until they reached the age of 18. In January 2018 the Chairman and Secretary met the final group of children who are still with us and are approaching their eighteenth birthday. It has been a wonderful scheme and thanks were expressed by Sarvodaya officers for the vast support given over so many years.
The chairman and Secretary were so delighted to be invited to the Engagement party of the daughter of the teacher in our school in Ihalagalagama and her husband-to-be from Colombo. The party was held in the home of the teacher who we have known since our school was built 10 years ago.
It was a very happy occasion attended by members of the close families of the bride and groom-to-be. It also involved Almsgiving and religious blessings on the couple conducted by the Chief Priest and other monks of the local Temple. Following the formalities, a wonderful lunch was served in the home, prepared and served by relatives of the bride-to-be.
The Charity Trustees had an extremely informative and worthwhile visit to the Oral and Maxilofacial Surgery Department of the Dental Hospital in Peradeniya on January 25th 2018. The purpose of this visit was to learn more about the work done by surgeons who specialise in treatment of oral cancers in children and launch our forthcoming project which will provide specialise equipment for paediatric surgery.
The meeting was attended by consultant surgeons of Peradeniya and members of Cancer Care Services who are such important members of the team working with patients in both pre and post-operative periods. Trustees were given an illustrated talk by the country’s leading micro-vascular surgeon and also met a group of patients who had received surgical treatment at the hospital before touring the oncology ward.
On January 27th 2018, the Charity Trustees spend an extremely interesting and worthwhile morning attending the official launch of our School Garden Project at Ilukwewa Junior College in Sigiriya. We have provided equipment for clearing land, starting the growing of permanent and short term crops, and watering the garden area.
A lovely ceremony was held to mark the occasion. The Principal and parents expressed deep gratitude for the establishment of this important new development in the school and pupils entertained the gathering with splendid dancing and speeches of thanks. Further details will be found on the Sigiriya page of this website.
One of the key tasks conducted by Trustees Alison and Michael Brown on their visit to Sri Lanka in early 2018 was to undertake an assessment of the impact of our provision of agro-drinking wells in various locations suffering from barren soils for a substantial part of the year.
They visited our well village at Hippola in the Kandy District and ten well villages in the Wellawaya District. Appropriate updates will be found on the relevant well village pages.
Joy and David Cooper had a busy and highly productive month-long visit to Sri Lanka through January 2018. They met with the Directors and leaders of the organisations we work with and visited many of our project locations including villages in the Matara and Ratnapura Districts. Thy attended Rotary meetings in Colombo and Kandy and met with the children we help through our educational support scheme.
Highlights of the visit included meeting surgeons, staff and patients of the Department of Oral and Maxilofacial Surgery at the Dental Faculty hospital in Peradeniya where we will be donating equipment for paediatric surgery, and officially launching our School Garden Project at Ilukwewa Junior College in Sigiriya.
Trustees Alison and Michael Brown visited Sri Lanka in early 2018 and enjoyed seeing a number of the villages where we have enabled the construction of schools and community buildings including Mapalagama and Hiththatiya. They also attended the meeting at the Dental Faculty and Hospital in Peradeniya where we heard of progress with our oral cancer project and launched the paediatric oncology surgical equipment project.
A significant part of their visit was concerned with investigating the impact of our provision of agro-drinking wells. They visited 11 villages where wells have been installed and provided data for the report on this. Updates and new photos are given where appropriate in the relevant village pages of the website.
On December 14th 2017 Chairman and Secretary of the Trustees handed over a cheque for £5,000 to the President of the Rotary Club of Alnwick. Alnwick Rotary Club will be joining once again in a Rotary International Global Grant application to be commenced in 2018.
The purpose of this grant will be to provide much needed surgical equipment for the University Hospital in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka which will be dedicated to operating on young cancer patients whose needs are very different from those of adults facing surgery. The Global Grant application will link Project Sri Lanka with the Rotary Club of Alnwick and the Rotary Club of Kandy. Our photograph shows the Chairman and Secretary handing over the cheque to the President of Alnwick Rotary Club, David Cant and the Treasurer, Terry Long.
David Cooper, Secretary to the Board of Trustees was awarded the high honour of a Paul Harris Fellowship by the Rotary Club of Alnwick on December 14th 2017. This award was in recognition of the thirteen years of voluntary service which David has given to being a Trustee and Secretary of Project Sri Lanka, and to community development and humanitarian work in Sri Lanka.
The award was presented to David on the occasion of the Christmas Fellowship lunch at the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick. It was presented by the President of Alnwick Rotary Club, Rev. David Cant.
Project Sri Lanka donated further much needed equipment to Kandy General Hospital in February 2017. This donation was of 4 syringe pumps, adding to the quantity of this essential device given in 2016.
In January, Trustees Joy and David Cooper met with officers of Kandy Rotary Club and finalised arrangements for handing over of the pumps. A ceremony took place in February 2017 when Rotarians from Kandy attended the hospital and formerly gave the equipment to the hospital staff on behalf of Project Sri Lanka.
A substantial new programme being supported by Project Sri Lanka 2017-2019 is concerned with awareness, detection, prevention and treatment or oral cancer which is a major health issue on the island. This programme is being implemented by the Department of Oral and Maxilofacial Surgery of the Faculty of Dental Sciences at the University of Peradeniya and Cancer Care Services in Sri Lanka. The donors are Project Sri Lanka, the Rotary clubs of Kandy, Alnwick and Honolulu Sunset and their associated Rotary districts.
On January 26th 2017 Trustees Joy and David Cooper participated in an inauguration and press release event at the Faculty of Dental Sciences. This was attended by the District Governor of Rotary Sri Lanka and senior members of the Dental Faculty and Cancer Care Services. Further details will be found on the Peradeniya page of this website.
On 20th January 2017, Trustees Joy and David Cooper returned to the village of Manelgalla in the district of Wellawaya to see progress with the agro-drinking well project there. Construction work had been halted during the year as a result of adverse weather conditions, but they were delighted to see that the well had been completed and declared it officially ‘open’.
It is a huge well with potential for significantly increasing agricultural production in the village in addition to enabling water supplies for drinking and cooking.
On Sunday 29th January our agro-drinking well in the village of Veheragala, near Habarana was declared officially open. This well is in an area of archaeological significance and permission had been gained from the Sri Lanka Archaeology Department to dig out this vital resource for the village people. It is 30 feet deep and will supply year round water to the villagers.
The ceremony was attended by Trustees Joy and David Cooper and a team of Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid City who had co-funded this important project with Project Sri Lanka. After the formalities of unveiling the plaque and speeches, the village children performed drama and dancing.
During 2016 Project Sri Lanka provided emergency response relief to a number of families in the Colombo area whose homes had been completely inundated with flood water. They lost all possessions and many had to be evacuated from their homes by boat.
In January 2017 Trustees David and Joy Cooper paid visits to 4 of the affected families and witnessed at first hand the destruction and devastation caused by the flood waters. Family members have returned to damaged properties and are working hard to overcome their losses.
On January 30th 2017 Trustees Joy and David Cooper visited the small community of Morawewa in the Tricomalee District on the east coast of the island. This village has chronic kidney disease issues as a result of the contamination of drinking water by pesticides used in the paddy fields.
It is proposed to install a water purification system at Morawewa’s Kish Pre-School which would supply clean water for the school and the village as a whole. The Trustees had a very informative visit to the school where they met children and teachers and saw the site of the proposed purification plant, next to an existing water well. Further details of this vitally needed project will be found on the Trincomalee pages of this website.
Trustees Joy and David Cooper enjoyed another visit to the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy which is a project that we have supported on several occasions including through a Global Grant of Rotary International linking with the Rotary Club of Kandy and through an ‘in perpetuity’ donation.
In January 2017 the Trustees witnessed a man learning to walk with a new prosthetic limb. They also learned of developments at the Centre over the past year including an ever-increasing number of people helped after amputations and spinal injuries and the provision of vocational training classes.
After the tsunami tragedy devastated lives in 2004, Project Sri Lanka commenced a programme to support 59 children whose families are members of the Sarvodaya community in Palana, Weligama, whose families had been severely affected by the disaster (see related website page in Sponsor a Child’s Education). Each child has been supported ever since until reaching the age of 18 which most have now done.
In January 2017 Trustees Joy and David Cooper attended a gathering of the 8 children remaining on the programme who themselves are now approaching the end of schooling.
Past District Governor of Rotary District 1030 RIBI Terry Long, Past Presidents of Alnwick Rotary Club Marion Long and Elaine Smith and Rotarian Graham Smith visited Sri Lanka once again in January 2017. They attended a meeting of the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid City and had a highly successful visit to the Primary and Pre-schools at Mapalagama.
The building project at Mapalagama was supported by the Rotary Club of Alnwick and District 1030. The Rotarian Team presented gifts and equipment to the school including a set of school sweatshirts from Duke Middle School in Alnwick and some descant recorders for the school band.
Trustee Chairman Joy Palmer Cooper and Secretary David Cooper spent the month of January 2017 in Sri Lanka. They visited our project villages where community buildings had been established in previous years, some of our well villages and all of the children whose education we support. They declared open new wells at Veheregala and Manelgalla and visited families of Colombo flood victims the charity had assisted. They also visited the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy where we provide funds to artificial limbs for amputees.
Two further key aspects of their visit were a visit to Morawewa near Trincomalee where we will be supporting the provision of a water purification project (see the Trincomalee page of this website) and addressing the launch of our Oral Cancer Detection and Awareness Project being developed in partnership with the Rotary Club of Kandy (as detailed on the Peradeniya page of this website)
(photo – CFH 2017 Joy and David)
In April 2016 our Chairman was honoured with a Rotary International ‘Champions of Change’ Award for her work in international community development, and in particular for management of community endeavours in Sri Lanka. The Award was presented by the UK Minister for Social Affairs in the House of Lords at Westminster, London. The ceremony was attended by various Members of the House of Lords, MPs and officers of Rotary Great Britain and Ireland.
Joy said “I am deeply honoured to have received this award but I would like to pay tribute to the many other people in the Project Sri Lanka team without whom our many and various community successes would not have happened. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to all of our sponsors and supporters and I am deeply indebted to the Project’s Board of Trustees for their tremendous dedication and hard work which makes it all possible.”
Trustees’ Chairman and Secretary Joy and David Cooper spent a month in Sri Lanka in early 2016. They visited many of the projects’ buildings and village communities and had a very happy visit to Mapalagama Prinary and Pre-School. They met the young people whose education is sponsored through the charity. They also attended Rotary meetings of the Clubs of Colombo Mid-City and Kandy in order to discuss on-going and future partnership projects.
Joy and David officially ‘opened’ 4 new agro-drinking wells and visited the site for the Charity’s next water well project. They also visited the Kandy Centre for Handicapped where a further donation is being made and presented £5,000 worth of equipment to the Emergency Treatment Unit of Kandy General Hospital.
Trustees Alison and Michael Brown had a very interesting and productive visit to Sri Lanka commencing in January 2016. They visited several of the charity’s village buildings and community centres and the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy. They also attended the presentation of equipment for the Emergency Treatment Unit of Kandy General Hospital.
Alison and Michael held a meeting at the Karapitya Hospital in Galle for the purpose of exploring the possibility of Project Sri Lanka contributing to the expansion of a Cancer Awareness Programme being developed and implemented by hospital oncologists. This programme is supported by the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid-City.
Rotary District 1030 Governor Terry Long and fellow Alnwick Rotarians Marion Long, Elaine Smith and Graham Smith visited Sri Lanka in January 2016. A key purpose of this trip was to visit the Rotary Club of Kandy and the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy which is the focus of Terry’s fund-raising initiative for his year as District Governor. In partnership with Kandy Rotarians and Project Sri Lanka, an application is being made for a Rotary International Global Grant to support the Centre,
The Alnwick group also visited Mapalagama School to present a plaque indicating that the toilet block had been donated by Alnwick Rotakids and they had a most enjoyable visit to the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid-City which had overseen the Mapalagama project.
Charity Chairman Joy Palmer Cooper was presented with a Vocational Service Award by the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid-City on 12th January 2016. This prestigious award was given in recognition of her eleven years of humanitarian service in Sri Lanka, working with Mid-City Rotarians.
Joy is an Honorary member of the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid-City and a Rotarian in the Rotary Club of Alnwick in the UK.
Charity Chairman and Secretary Joy and David Cooper spent two days in January 2016 visiting the sites of our agro-drinking wells in the barren regions of Tanamawilla and Wellawaya in Sri Lanka.
4 further villages had been identified in July 2015 as being places greatly in need of water wells. All four of these wells were successfully completed with Project Sri Lanka funding and were declared officially ‘open’ in January. They are situated in the villages of Parakumpura, Paranapara, Samagipura and Weherayaya.
Once again, the Chairman was very pleased to be able to transport to Sri Lanka a walking frame donated by Mrs Moira McLean of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. This zimmer frame will be of significant value to the people of the Kandy Centre for Handicapped who are learning to walk once again after receiving prosthetic limbs following leg amputations.
One of Project Sri Lanka’s donations this year has been for the provision of a 4 toilet block at Mallapitiya School in the Kandy region of Sri Lanka. Prior to this, the 700 pupils at the school had no toilet facilities and were required to use neighbouring scrubland.
Trustees Joy and David Cooper and Michael and Alison Brown visited the school on January 25th 2016 and were delighted to see work in progress on the toilet block with an estimated completion date of March 2016.
David and Joy Cooper were absolutely delighted to re-visit one of the villages where an agro-drinking well had been provided a year ago, this being the community named 39K near to Wellawaya town.
Prior to the provision of the well, there had been little or no agriculture at 39K. By January 2016, a complete transformation of the land had occurred. There are now vast areas of agriculture, with crop growing made possible by water pipes from our well. Without doubt this project has transformed the lives of the villagers who can now be farmers and generate income.
On 25th January 2016, a ceremony was organised by the Rotary Club of Kandy in the General Hospital in order for our charity Trustees to hand over £5,000 worth of urgently needed equipment for the Emergency Treatment Unit. This equipment included 2 cardiac monitors, 2 ECG machines, 2 infusion pumps and 2 syringe pumps.
A welcome address was delivered by Rotarian Dr Ajay Jayaseelan, the Project Chair. Rotarian Shamil Peries addressed the gathering on the history of the Emergency Treatment Unit, and the Hospital Director, Dr Ratnayake gave an address of gratitude.
On 28th January 2016, Trustees David and Joy Cooper visited the remote village of Veheragala near to Habarana with Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid-City. The party was greeted by the Chief Incumbent of the Temple, Rev. Maharambawawe Palitha and village people. 280 families in this community suffer from the effects of severe drought and lack of educational provision.
Trustees agreed to provide funding for a deep water well and also to support the establishment of a classroom and library where lessons may be conducted.
A significant honour was bestowed on Charity Chairman Rotarian Joy Palmer Cooper by the Rotary Club of Kandy on January 27th 2016.
She was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of many years of humanitarian service given in a voluntary capacity for the people of Sri Lanka. The award was proposed by Senior Vice President of Kandy Club, Rotarian Shamil Peries and it was handed over by Past District Governor of Sri Lanka Rotary District, Rotarian Krish from the Rotary Club of Colombo West.
The Chairman and Secretary of the Trustees, Joy and David Cooper, spent very enjoyable weekend in Edinburgh at the Annual Conference of Rotary District 1030 in October 2015. The District Governor, Terry Long, has ‘adopted’ the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy as his major fund-raising initiative of his year in office, in partnership with Project Sri Lanka.
Joy and David presented Terry (shown in the photograph) with a cheque for £5,000 from the Charity to get the fund-raising off to a vibrant start. The money raised is being incorporated into an applicant for a Rotary Global Grant by the Rotary Club of Kandy. At the same Conference, a very large bottle of wine was raffled for ‘The Kandy Project’ and this raised over £800 for the Governor’s fund. The wine was donated to Project Sri Lanka for fund-raising by St James’s Place and we are extremely grateful to Paul Williamson of St James’s Place for this generous contribution to our humanitarian endeavours.
The Chair of the Trustees had a most interesting and worthwhile visit to Sri Lanka in July 2015 when one of her substantial tasks was declaring open the Charity’s 7th agro-drinking well in the village of Walaskema and meeting villagers in four further drought affected locations to assess their water needs. She also met with Rotarians from 5 Rotary Clubs in the city of Colombo to discuss potential future projects in the fields of sanitation, water supply and health.
Another very important task was the setting up of personal bank accounts for children the Charity supports who were not accustomed to banking.
Joy presented items of mobility equipment to the officers of the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy and an extensive collection of books and sewing materials to the Principal and staff of Sri Sumangala Girls’ College in Weligama. Further details of all of these activities will be found on the relevant village activities pages of this website.
Two greatly appreciated items of mobility equipment were handed over to officers of the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy by the Chairman on her visit to Sri Lanka in July 2015. These were donated by Mrs Moira McLean of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The devices have augmented the Centre’s store of equipment used by individuals awaiting prosthetic limbs after amputations and by those in the training stages after the fitting of new limbs.
One of the key tasks of the Chairman on her visit to Sri Lanka in July 2015 was accompanying the parents of 17 children supported by the Charity on a visit to the Commercial Bank in Weligama town. The purpose of this visit was to open bank accounts for the children of these families who, until this time, had not held accounts.
This development provided a significant educational experience for the children, who are now in a position to monitor their savings and spending of monies given to support their education.
On 20th July 2015 the agro-drinking well provided by Project Sri Lanka in the remote village of Walaskema was declared open by Trustee Joy Palmer Cooper. After the formalities and meeting with speeches of thanks, the villagers provided music and a wonderful array of locally grown fruits and vegetables to mark the occasion.
This large well has transformed the lives of the people of this village. It gives a year-round supply of water for drinking, cooking and bathing. It also provides the water needed for agricultural purposes. Crops grown by the village people are consumed by the local families and surplus goods are sold to other local communities. Income derived from sales is enhancing the provision of fencing and other measures to stop wild elephants encroaching on the fields of crops and homes.
Given the obvious success and importance of agro-drinking wells provided by Project Sri Lanka in 7 locations (5 in the Wellawaya area and 2 in the Kandy area of the island), the Chairman was asked to visit four new communities to assess their needs for water supply and to consider the provision of wells. These four villages are Parakumpura, Samagipura, Paranapara and Weherayaya, all in the Wellawaya and Tanamawilla region of the country. Further details of all four locations can be found on the relevant village pages of this website.
Extremely positive meetings were held in each place in July 2015 when the Chairman met the owners of the land and village people who explained their needs and commitment to assisting with well construction. In each place Joy was shown the appropriate ground hole where a well could be established to retain water throughout the year. The Trustees agreed to support all four projects.
A team of Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Alnwick in RIBI District 1030 visited Sri Lanka in February 2013. The four visitors were District Governor Elect Terry Long and his wife, Marion Long and Rotarians Elaine and Graham Smith. All four had previously visited Sri Lanka and been instrumental in the Rotary Club of Alnwick’s support for the building of Mapalagama School.
On this visit they visited Mapalagama and enjoyed seeing both the newly completed Primary and Pre-Schools, and they visited the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid-City, one of Project Sri Lanka’s main partners.
Trustees Joy and David Cooper and Alison and Michael Brown all paid visits to the site of our potential 7th well which lies in the village of Walaskema in the Wellawaya District of Sri Lanka. They had the pleasure of meeting villagers and hearing of the need to create a well in this location.
They gathered beside a large area of agricultural land without a permanent water supply and learnt of the need for water on site which would be used for drinking and bathing purposes as well as for arable crop growing and maintaining a herd of cows which at present do not survive the dry season.
Trustees Alison and Michael Brown made a substantial visit to Sri Lanka in February 2015 during which they visited a good number of the Charity’s projects including our villages in the Ratnapura and Matara Districts and the newly completed school at Mapalagama, They visited the new Project Sri Lanka well in village 39K and went to assess the potential for a new well in Walaskema.
Other highlights included spending time at the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy where various items of equipment were handed over and visiting the Hindu College in Ramboda. At this College they met the ladies who have received sewing machines from the Charity and enjoyed seeing samples of their work which they sell in order to support their families. In this location they also were welcomed into a school of 500 Tamil pupils in need of water supply.
Four Trustees attended a gathering at the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy on January 28th 2015 and had the great honour of handing over prosthetic limbs and other items of mobility equipment which formed part of the substantial donation to the Centre made by the Charity in 2014.
Alison and Michael Brown and David and Joy Cooper met several individuals who had suffered amputations and others in need of mobility devices. They appreciated a tour of the Centre’s workshops and physiotherapy facilities.
Trustees Joy and David Cooper spent four weeks in early 2015 visiting the Charity’s villages and associated projects. They also enjoyed meeting with the young people in Weligama being supported by Project Sri Lanka. Highlights of the visit included the official opening of the Pre-School at Mapalagama, where they planted an orange tree to mark this special occasion. They also declared open of the well in village 39K, and handed over prosthetic limbs and mobility equipment at the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy.
Joy and David attended meetings of the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid City and the Rotary Club of Kandy and engaged in exploratory visits to other places which may be considered as locations for projects to be supported by the Charity.
On January 17th 2015 Trustees Joy and David Cooper enjoyed a second visit to the village named 39K in the Wellawaya District. The Trustees had agreed in 2014 to support the construction of an agro-drinking well in this village which for much of the year did not have access to water.
The wonderful well was declared ‘open’ on this visit, much to the joy of the people in the community. They are now able to access water for drinking, cooking and bathing throughout the year and the water will also be used to develop local crop production. It is anticipated that employment opportunities will arise from the development of small scale agricultural endeavours.
Two guests associated with the Rotary Club of Alnwick visited Sri Lanka in January 2015. Laura from the UK and Rachel from Australia joined Trustees Joy and David Cooper on visits to the Charity’s community buildings in Ihalagalagama and Puwakgahawela. They met the new intake of pre-school children in both villages, donated pencils and balls to the schools and enjoyed conversing with children, teachers and village people.
On 13th January 2015 Trustees David and Joy Cooper paid a visit to the site of Mapalagama School. They enjoyed seeing the completed Junior School and took part in a ceremony to declare open the associated Pre-School on the site. The original ‘old’ pre-school had been much in need of repair and refurbishment . A grant from Project Sri Lanka enabled the repairs to be carried out and new furniture, equipment and a toilet block to be provided.
The refurbishing of this pre-school is seen as a very important step towards completion of primary education at Mapalagama. With a flourishing early years facility, children will come here and progress to the primary years.
On September 18th 2014 the Chairman of the Trustees was invited to make a presentation on the work of Project Sri Lanka to members and guests of the Rotary Club of La Vallette on the island of Malta. She explained the evolution of the project, recent developments in the fields of education, water supply and health, and emphasised the centrality of Rotary partnerships. A significant proportion of the Charity’s recent endeavours have been in association with Rotarians in Sri Lanka, notably in the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid-City and the Rotary Club of Kandy. Rotarians have engaged with Project Sri Lanka at various levels including District involvement, Club support and involvement by Rotarians as individual donors. Joy is pictured here with the President of the Rotary Club La Vallette, Anne Marie Bianchi.
On 13th August 2014, a meeting was held in Alnwick to which the Presidents of the Rotary Clubs in Area 1 of District 1030 R.I.B.I. who had contributed to the Mapalagama School project were invited.
Chairman of the Trustees Joy Palmer Cooper made a presentation on the Mapalagama project in which she emphasised the success of this wonderful partnership endeavour which has united Rotary Clubs throughout the District’s Area 1 in support of this gift of education to the children of Mapalagama.
Clubs and organisations who have contributed substantially to the Mapalagama project are The Rotary Club of Alnwick (which co-ordinated the Rotary fund-raising), The District of R.I.B.I. 1030; the Rotary Clubs of Amble and Warworth, Ashington, Bedlington, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Morpeth, Seahouses and Till and Glendale; The Alnwick Rotakids, The Inner Wheel Club of Alnwick and the Duchess High School in Alnwick.
Chairman of the Trustees Joy Palmer Cooper visited Sri Lanka in July 2014 in order to complete the documentation relating to the completion of Mapalagama School, arrange for the formal opening of this school and discuss other projects proposed by the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid City, one of our major partners in Sri Lanka.
She also finalised the arrangements for payment of the remaining 2014 sponsorship money for our ‘adopted’ children in Palana and Weligama and discussed future plans for this and the ‘Jagabay’ child sponsorship schemes.
The charity was asked to support the provision of another agro-drinking well and the site will be visited by the Trustees on their next visit to Sri Lanka.
For the fifth year in succession Scott Weightman spent a month at Sri Sumangala School in Weligama teaching Grade 10 and 11 classes studying for their English literature ‘O’ Level examination. He was also invited to repeat these lessons at the nearby Siddhartha School and at Telijjawila Central College.
Enjoyable visits were also made to the project’s pre-schools/community centres in Hiththatiya and Vikumgama, and to the Thellula Janapodaya well. At weekends, Scott visited many of the children helped by the project and took part in two ‘western music’ workshops. Towards the end of his stay he visited the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka to discuss a teaching schedule for his next visit to Sri Lanka.
Two of Project Sri Lanka’s sponsored teenagers have recently achieved outstanding results in Sri Lanka’s GCSE examinations. At ‘A’ Level, Sanjeewani Abeysekara, sponsored by Trustee Scott Weightman, gained an A grade in each of her three subjects, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. In the autumn of 2014 she will commence studying for a degree in medicine at the University of Colombo. At ‘O’ Level, Nimadi Nilakshika, sponsored by the Tilley family, achieved a grade A in each of her nine subjects. She will soon start ‘A’ Level courses in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. In our photo she is being congratulated by Richard Tilley who designed the Project Sri Lanka logo.
Friends of Project Sri Lanka collected over 75 kilos of sports and educational materials that were distributed to schools in the Weligama area by Trustee Scott Weightman. Warwickshire County Cricket Board and Rugely Cricket Club donated over a thousand pounds worth of cricket equipment. Other contributions included badminton, soccer and volleyball equipment, educational materials, books, toys and re-conditioned laptop computers. Scott and his friends visited Sri Sumangala and Siddhartha Colleges during early May to present these donations. Both schools were delighted with these contributions from supporters of the Charity.
On 13th February 2014 Project Sri Lanka’s fifth village well was declared open in the village of Mederigama in the Kegalle District of Sri Lanka. This ceremony was attended by Trustees Joy and David Cooper, Bandula Senadeera from Sarvodaya Headquarters in Moratuwa, local Sarvodaya officers and people of the village.
A very happy meeting was held when the villagers explained how the new well would be used and its significance. Visitors enjoyed unveiling the well plaque, realising the value of this to the community, and sharing traditional foods and music. Further details of this can be seen on the Mederigama village page of this website.
Trustees Joy and David Cooper were invited to visit a Centre for Handicapped near to the town of Kandy on 12th February. This was organised through the Chairman of the Centre, Shamil Peiris who is a Rotarian in the Rotary Club of Kandy. This is an extremely impressive and worthwhile project. Children and adults attend the Centre which provides artificial limbs for those in need, plus a variety of mobility aids, training and assistance.
Our Trustees met several individuals who have received limbs and are undergoing training and were given a guided tour of the workshops and facilities. They are recommending to the Board of Trustees of Project Sri Lanka that the Charity supports this Centre. Further details can be found on the Centre for Handicapped pages of this website.
On 5th February 2014 Charity Trustees Joy and David Cooper were the Chief Guests at the Annual University Day of the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka. This was by kind invitation of the Vice Chancellor Professor Mahinda Rupasinghe.
During an elaborate ceremony Professor Rupasinghe made a presentation on the many excellent achievements of the University over the past year and various awards and certificates were presented to outstanding students and staff. Charity Chairman Joy Palmer Cooper was honoured with an Award of Excellence for outstanding contributions to the development of the Sabaragamuwa University and its community over the past 7 years. She received a very elegant trophy and certificate.
Whilst visiting the Wellawaya District, Trustees Joy and David Cooper were welcomed into the village of 39 Kanuwa which is another community desperately in need of water for drinking and small-scale agricultural purposes. A very pleasant meeting was held when the village people showed the Trustees their potential site for a well and explained their needs.
It was agreed that project Sri Lanka would fund a well in this community with much of the labour for its construction being provided by the people of the village. Hopefully, as long as weather permits, the new well will be completed by mid-July 2014. Further details are provided on the 39 Kanuwa village page of this website.
On February 2nd 2014 Trustees David and Joy Cooper visited the village of Thelulla Janapodaya in the Wellawaya District of Sri Lanka to see and to officially declare open the Charity’s fourth agro-drinking well.
The well had been completed according to the schedule and a very happy day was enjoyed with the village people and members and officers from Sarvodaya Shramadana. This well has been funded through Project Sri Lanka by the community of Spittal in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland (see the Thelulla Janapodaya village page of this website).
On 1st February 2014 a ceremony was held at the site of the construction of the new primary school which is to be built near Mapalagama, inland from the town of Galle. The new building is to be funded by Rotary District 1030 in the UK and Project Sri Lanka as a joint venture (see the Mapalagama village page of this website.)
The ceremony was attended by the President of the Rotary club of Alnwick, Elaine Smith and her husband Rotarian Graham Smith and Charity Trustees David and Joy Cooper and Michael and Alison Brown. They were warmly welcomed by Rotarians from the Rotary club of Colombo Mid City, the school Principal and staff, together with parents and children from the community. It is hoped that the school will be constructed by July 2014 alongside refurbishment of an older classroom block on the site.
Charity Chairman Joy Palmer Cooper, a Rotarian in the Rotary Club of Alnwick UK, was invited to accept the position of Honorary Member of the Rotary club of Colombo Mid-City at the Club meeting held on January 28th 2014. This is in recognition of the international humanitarian work she has developed in partnership with Mid-City Rotarians over the past 10 years. This work has included organising several teams of volunteers to teach at Moraketiara and Ahangama Schools, organising the donation of sewing machines to the Ramboda community and co-ordinating the support for the building of a new primary school at Mapalagama.
Trustees Joy and David Cooper spent one month is Sri Lanka from mid-January to Mid-February 2014. They visited the majority of the charity’s villages and engaged in many meetings with our partners to discuss progress on all projects. Highlights of the month included the laying of the foundation stones of the new Primary School in Mapalagama, opening of two new agro-drinking wells at Thelulla Janapodaya and Mederigama, adopting another village for well provision in a village named 39 Kanuwa, visiting the Centre for Handicapped in Kandy and attending the University Day at the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka. All of these key activities are detailed in separate news items and the respective village pages.
The President of Alnwick Rotary Club, Elaine Smith, and her husband Rotarian Graham Smith spent two weeks in Sri Lanka in January and early February 2014. They visited the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid-City which is one of our main partners in Sri Lanka and enjoyed home hospitality provided by Rotarian Hiran and his family. They met some of the local children we are sponsoring in Weligama. The highlight of their visit was the ceremonial ‘laying of the foundation stones’ of the Primary School to be built in Mapalagama, funded by Rotarians of the north east of England together with Project Sri Lanka (see the Mapalagama village page of the website).
At the invitation on the Vice Chancellor, Professor Mahinda Rupasinghe, Trustees Alison and Michael Brown spent a week at the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka teaching conversational English. This was their third visit to the University. Whilst there, they also visited the three villages where community buildings have been provided through Project Sri Lanka. In the Southern Province they visited three further Project schools.
Alison and Michael wrote “It is very encouraging to see the dedication of the teachers and the good use the villagers are making of the buildings. As well as schools they serve as banks, centres where midwives and health visitors can come and work and places for numerous community activities.” Alison and Michael also attended the ceremony for the laying of the Foundation stones at Mapalagama School (see separate news items and the Mapalagama page of the website).
Friends of the charity Agneta Elvin and her family visited our well site at Handapanagala early in the New Year 2014. They were very impressed with the use of the well and its significance for the community of this village. The visitors were given a guided tour of the well site, heard about how it was being used and were then entertained to some wonderful traditional fruit and sweet pastries in the home of one of the village people. Our visitors gained a great deal from going to this community and learning about life there and the villagers thoroughly enjoyed entertaining a family from Europe.
Scott Weightman visited the partially completed well at Thellula Janapodaya on November 11th 2013. This is the well being funded by the community of Spittal in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. Scott was greeted in the village with a colourful bouquet of wild flowers and was treated to a banquet of milk rice, fruits, wood apple juice and coconut water. It is anticipated that the well will be completed and functioning in early 2014.
After this well visit, Scott moved on to the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka where he taught communication skills to both academic and non-academic staff as well as students. Topics included writing and delivering a speech, formal letters, figures of speech, e-mails, sentence patterns, and improving spoken English. All participants engaged in presentations, debates and conversation classes and a great deal was achieved.
The team of volunteers 2013 achieved a splendid project in Vikumgama village during their stay. They worked alongside the villagers to prepare and develop small home gardens and agricultural plots. A huge amount of effort went in to acquiring the appropriate tools, digging out the plots and undertaking the first plantings of fruits and vegetables. The village residents have undertaken to ensure on-going maintenance and sustainability of this local development which should be of benefit to many families. Because of its success, a further garden was established for the community in Aththudawa and hopefully this scheme can be extended to other villages in the future.
On Thursday July 25th 2013, Trustee Joy Palmer Cooper and the Volunteer Team 2013 celebrated the official opening of the village agro-drinking well at Hippola. This well was financed by the fund-raising of Team 2013. It was a wonderful day, when the village people realised the transformation of their lives now that water was available within their community for personal and agricultural uses and for the Temple. The volunteers had the great privilege of staying for 2 nights in homes of Hippola residents, sharing in cooking and eating of genuine local dishes and finding out far more about the families for whom they had provided a water supply. They will never forget this wonderful ‘in community’ experience.
Chairman of the Trustees Joy Palmer Cooper once again visited many of our partnership communities in the Matara and Sabaragamuwa regions in July 2013. She spent time with the Team 2013 Volunteers enjoying their splendid work and achievements and in particular, she shared the wonderful opening ceremony for the well provided by this team in the village of Hippola.
Joy was Chief Guest at a ceremony organised by Colombo Mid-City Rotarians in Ramboda, where she handed over 10 sewing machines provided by Project Sri Lanka to ladies in the community. She also visited 2 new sites where the Charity will be providing agro-drinking wells in 2014, these being Thelulla Janapodaya in the Wellawaya district and Mederigama, west of Kandy. Also on this visit, Joy handed over supplies of embroidery and sewing materials provided by friends of the Charity at Sri Sumangala Girls College in Weligama and held various meetings with Rotarians in Colombo and Kandy about potential future projects.
Trustee Scott Weightman enjoyed another month teaching English Literature “O” level to the Grade 11 students of Sri Sumangala Girls School and Siddhartha Boys School in Weligima..
Scott remarks “the pupils have a wonderful attitude to their studies, are very appreciative and are a joy to teach”
Scott corresponds each month with each of the eighteen students and he intends to revisit the schools in November to carry out an intensive revision course before their December exam.
Week ends were spent visiting the homes of many of the forty seven children supported by Project Sri Lanka
He also took part in two music workshops with three music teachers from Rahula College, Matara
Church organist and trustee of Project Sri Lanka Scott Weightman staged a six hour long sponsored organathon and coffee morning on May 11 in St Pauls Church ,Spittal (Berwick upon Tweed)
He received huge support from the local residents and over £2,700 was realised , enough to cover the cost of building the “Spittal Well” in the Monaragala District.
Ali and Mike Brown enjoyed a busy three week visit from January 17th to February 10th 2013. They write: “At the invitation of the Vice Chancellor, we spent eight days at the Sabaragamuwa University where we engaged with lecturers, university staff and external students in daily sessions of ‘spoken English’ whose purpose was to give the participants confidence to speak English without worrying about perfect grammar. We were also fortunate enough to visit the Army Officer Training Academy at Diyathalawa to discuss the problems the staff encounter teaching recruits the English medium. We attended the opening of the new wells at Koonawalana and Handapanagala, and in Matara we paid visits to the pre-schools at Kirelawela and Hiththatiya. Both were obviously thriving. In Kirelawela a presentation was being given to teachers, parents and village elders on the subject of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence and in Hiththatiya the children were keen to join us in action songs. We look forward to visiting again next year.”
An important part of the work of Project Sri Lanka is fostering links between British and Sri Lankan institutions with common interests. Dr Nick Brown writes: “Normally I work as an NHS oncologist in the UK and I was keen to learn more about oncology in Sri Lanka. Through Project Sri Lanka I was able to set up an opportunity of observe in the Oncology Department at Karapitya Hospital, a large teaching hospital in Galle. My week in the department was extremely interesting and useful. I was particularly interested in the inventive strategies that have been developed to deliver the best possible patient outcomes in an environment where resources are inevitably more limited than those in the UK. I also had the opportunity to deliver a lecture to the Galle Medical Association, and to discuss research projects at Ruhuna University in Matara. I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Sri Lanka to anyone keen to create professional links and view their everyday job from a new perspective.”
Project Sri Lanka is delighted to have provided a funding contribution towards an operation that will restore the failing eyesight of Weligama resident Perera. This gentleman has worked throughout his life as a three wheeler driver and in other activities and finds himself in a position where he is no longer able to work and earn the necessary income to support himself and his family. It is anticipated that the operation will restore his sight and enable him to work once again.
Four Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Alnwick in Northumberland spent two weeks in Sri Lanka in January 2013. The visitors were Assistant District Governor Terry Long, Club President Marion Long, Vice-President Elaine Smith and Rotarian Graham Smith. The team stayed with hosts from the Rotary Club of Colombo Mid City and attended Rotary meetings at the Colombo Mid City Club, Colombo North Club and Colombo West Club. After their stay in Colombo they set out on field visits to observe a number of the Charity’s projects which are associated with Rotary Sri Lanka. They saw the school at Moraketiara which Alnwick Rotary Club had contributed to and a number of other village projects provided through Project Sri Lanka. It is anticipated that this visit will lead to the development of future joint projects linking Alnwick and Rotary Sri Lanka with Project Sri Lanka.
The Trustees are delighted to join Monk Dharmarissa, the office bearers of Sarvoday Gandarawatte Society and parents of the village in welcoming Ms Malika as a new teacher in the pre-school. Malika commenced her duties in January 2013 and is seen here alongside the long serving teacher in the school. This good news comes at a time when a new three storey Temple building is being constructed in the village which will be used for conferences, accommodating monks and Temple meetings.
January 2013 marked the occasion of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Project Sri Lanka and the Sarvodaya Society office bearers in Vikumgama. Like all the rest of the Charity’s villages, the people of Vikumgama have entered into this agreement which gives them the responsibility for taking good care of the building, keeping it clean and well maintained, ensuring that the school is running effectively and making sure that the building is well used for a range of other community purposes. It was a great pleasure to return to this village and see how well the building is being used. The event was attended by Trustees David and Joy Cooper and visiting
Project Sri Lanka is delighted to welcome Ms Madushani Sanjeweeni who commenced her job as teacher in our pre-school at Kirelawela in January 2013. Madushani has a National Diploma in Pre-School Education and started her role with 14 children in the Kirelawela school. We wish her every success and happiness in this important position and know that she will be well supported by the officers of the Kirelawela Sarvodaya Society and parents. Our photo shows Madushani (centre) with Sarvodaya office bearers.
On Sunday 27th January Joy and David Cooper and Alison and Michael Brown celebrated the official ‘openings’ of the first two wells provided by Project Sri Lanka. These are in the villages of Koonawalana and Handapanagala, in the Wellawaya Disatrict of Sri Lanka. It was a truly wonderful and memorable day, experiencing the joy felt by the village people at having water for drinking and agricultural purposes locally available in their villages. We observed children drinking glasses of water from their wells and heard explanations of how having the water would transform lives and agricultural livelihoods in both places. These projects are clearly hugely successful and Trustees resolved to explore other barren areas where the provision of wells would make a significant difference to the quality of life for the local people.
Joy and David Cooper spent four weeks in Sri Lanka during January and February 2013. It was an extremely busy visit, which involved introducing 4 Rotarian visitors from The Rotary Club of Alnwick to many of our partners and projects, visiting our partnership villages both in the Matara District and in Belihul Oya, conducting the opening ceremonies of two of the Charity’s new agro-drinking wells, visiting a new potential site for a well, signing an MoU, investigating locations for new humanitarian contributions and meeting many of our sponsored children. Several of these activities are written as separate ‘news’ items. The visit concluded with a 5 day visit to the Jaffna peninsula which was a most interesting experience. It is very clear that a good deal remains to be done in this location in terms of reconstruction and support for development. The photo accompanying this news item shows Joy and David in attendance at a meeting of the Jaffna Rotary Club where they planned support for local projects.
Trustee Scott Weightman visited Sri Sumangala and Siddhartha Schools in Weligama in November 2012 to discuss his 2013 English Literature teaching and a provisional timetable. On November 2nd he presented a laptop computer to Sri Sumangala pupil Erandi Ruvinika, a grade 13 student, who was recently placed second in a national IT competition organised by Microsoft.
Scott was accompanied by American mathematics teacher Robb Grove from Denver who engaged in some teaching at both of the Weligama schools as well as discussing the curriculum with staff,
Trustee Joy Palmer Cooper visited many of our existing partnership villages in the Matara and Sabaragamuwa areas in June and July 2012. She spent time with the 2012 team of volunteers living in Matara and shared the wonderful occasion of the ceremonial opening of Vikumgama community building and school. She handed over plentiful supplies of sewing and embroidery materials provided by friends of the Charity in Sri Sumangala School and held meetings with Rotarians to plan for development of our partnerships with Rotary Sri Lanka.
Joy also visited the villages of Koonawalana and Handapanagala in the Wellawaya area, as previously referred to, in order to plan the Charity’s provision of drinking and agro-wells in these locations. In both villages, well-attended meetings were held in shady outdoor places where the surrounding parched landscape spoke volumes as the villagers told of their desperate needs for water supplies.
Joy Palmer Cooper’s visit to Sri Lanka in June/July 2012 (see related report) incorporated an exploration of inland villages in the Wellawaya area with dire need for water resources. Many villages have no adequate water supplies for drinking or for agricultural purposes. Their landscapes are barren and parched; crops and natural vegetation are dying and successful cultivation of essential food supplies is impossible. It was resolved to provide wells for drinking water and agriculture in two village locations in 2012, these being Koonawalana and Handapanagala. Further details of these places are provided in the ‘Villages’ pages of this website.
On 12th July the Charity’s tenth community building was officially opened in a wonderful traditional ceremony attended by 9 of the student volunteers who had raised funding for this building and Chair of the Trustees Joy Palmer Cooper. Also in attendance were Bandula Senadeera, Head of the International Division of Sarvodaya Shramadana; Divisional and District Co-ordinators of Sarvoydaya’s Matara District; Government Officials from the Provincial and District Councils and all of the people of the village.
Accounts of this splendid day written by the volunteers are placed on the Vikumgama pages of this website.
Trustee Scott Weightman returned to Sri Lanka in June 2012. Sri Sumangala College for Girls in Weligama gave him the usual warm welcome. After 4 years of visiting this school, Scott now feels well at home and a part of the staff. He taught English Literature ‘O’ Level (Auden and Shakespeare) and repeated such lessons at the nearby Siddhartha College for boys. Other lessons included ‘A’ Level English Language and Music to Grades 6 and 7.
In July Scott moved on to the Sabaragamuwa University where, despite a national strike by university lecturing staff, he was able to carry out a wide variety of lectures and workshops within the Community Development programmes.
One of the highlights of the visit was seeing the three community buildings/pre-schools of Project Sri Lanka, namely Ihalagalagama, Puwakgahawela and Pambahinna, where the villagers and children made him so welcome. In free time, Scott explored a tea plantation, paddy fields and the three largest waterfalls in Sri Lanka.
Durham University Alumnus Stephen Fletcher devoted ten weeks of his time to voluntary work in Sri Lanka in 2012. First port of call was the Sabaragamuwa University where he taught business studies, agri-business and English, working around the difficulties of a protracted staff strike taking place the time. From there he moved on to Matara and worked in Aruna Vidyalaya where he taught English to appreciative staff and students of all ages up to university entrance level.
During free time, Steve enjoyed diving in the Unawatuna area and seeing the wonderful natural history including elephants and leopards.
Chandana Dissanayake, Senior Lecturer in English Language at the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka was awarded a Visiting Fellowship by Hatfield College of the University of Durham in May and June 2012. Whilst based in Durham pursuing his academic studies, Chandana was provided ample opportunity by the Charity Trustees to explore northern England and where possible, links with his literary interests. He participated in visits to Cumbria and the Lake District, Northumberland, Edinburgh and the Scottish borders.
In March and April 2012, Charity trustees Joy and David Cooper visited various venues in California in order to give presentations and engage in discussion on Project Sri Lanka’s model for humanitarian aid. They visited the Haas Centre for Public Service at Stanford University and discussed the possibility of engaging Stanford University volunteers. Also, presentations were given at the Rotary Club of Mountain View and the Palms to Pines Rotary Club in Palm Desert. Rotary remains a central partner in the Charity’s endeavours.
Trustees Joy and David Cooper gave presentations on Project Sri Lanka to staff and students in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia in February 2012. Students from Ljubljana had engaged with Sri Lankan communities in need after the tsunami of 2004 and productive discussion took place on the successes of and issues arising from post-disaster interventions by international agencies.
Presenters explained some of the perceived challenges that had been encountered whilst working with partners and communities in Sri Lanka and such challenges and issues were set within the cultural context of the partner organisations and communities.
Between January 15th and January 23rd, 2012, Michael and Alison Brown were guests at Sabaragamua University, high in the hill country towards Ella.
We were invited to participate in “English Week”, and were made very welcome by the Vice Chancellor, and by both the Department of English Language Teaching and the Department of English. A schedule had been devised which included some teaching at schools in Balangoda and a visit to the Military Academy at Diyathalawa, as well as work at the University itself.
As usual we were impressed by the friendliness and enthusiasm of pupils, students and staff. Highlights included our “entertaining” more than 120 youngsters for a four hour session, engaging with non academic staff, and talking to students about cultural differences. Most of the people we met and taught had some knowledge of written English – the challenge (as emphasised by our wonderful coordinators from DELT) was to encourage them to practice their English speaking and not to be afraid of making mistakes.
Our very enjoyable and stimulating week ended on a high note. On Sunday afternoon, we were entertained at a variety concert given by the external students. There was drama, music, comedy, choral singing, and dance (both traditional and modern). The standard was extremely high, and there were moments of slapstick which brought tears to the eye.
Now back home (after visiting Yala National Park, and then relaxing at Jagabay Hotel on the south coast), Alison and I have many treasured memories of our week at Sabaragamuwa. We definitely gained a lot from it, and we hope that our hosts also found it a valuable experience.
The annual Prize Giving Ceremony at Sri Sumangala Balika Vidyalaya took place on 26th January 2012. Sri Sumangala is a large girls’ school in Weligama with some 2,700 students aged 5 to 18. Various Project Sri Lanka volunteers have visited this school and donated equipment and engaged in teaching.
Trustees Joy and David Cooper attended the ceremony during which prizes were awarded to 200 girls for outstanding achievements. The ceremony also included some superb musical and dance entertainment.
Having selected Vikumgama as location for the tenth community building and pre-school, a ceremony was held on January 24th 2012 for the purpose of laying foundation stones for the building. At the auspicious moment of 09.32am the first stone was laid.
The ceremony was attended by Monks from the Temple of the village, Sarvodaya officers from Colombo and Vikumgama, local community and government officers, village people and their children. Project Sri Lanka representatives Alison and Michael Brown and David and Joy Cooper laid stones on the site marked out for the building and enjoyed the ceremonial activities.
On 21st January 2012, Trustees Alison Brown, Joy Cooper, and David Cooper attended a meeting with representatives of the Sarvodaya Societies from the three villages we work with in the Sabaragamuwa Province, namely Ihalagalagama, Puwakgahawela and Pambahinna.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Trustees and by the office bearers of the three villages. This agreement formalises the handing over of the community buildings for community use and the acceptance of responsibility for maintaining them and using them to best advantage by the Sarvodaya Societies.
On 20th January 2012, Trustees David Cooper and Joy Cooper attended a ceremony in the village of Pambahinna in the Sabaragamuwa Province. They presented certificates to pupils of the village who has achieved excellent results in tests at the end of English language learning classes run by our student volunteers in the summer of 2011. These volunteers were sports students from Durham University. 21 certificates were presented and it is anticipated that Project Sri Lanka will continue to support the learning of English in our partnership villages.
On 16th January 2012, Trustees Joy and David Cooper visited the village of Vikumgama which is to be the site of the 10th community building and pre-school. Vikumgama lies 17km inland from Matara town and is home to a community of 1090 people, 449 of whom are Sarvodaya Society members.
Local people work as labourers in paddy fields and tea plantations. The photo here shows the site where the new building will stand and an existing government owned building which serves as a community health centre and temporary school.