Our Projects, Past & Present
‘Books and Buns’!Kirimatiyawa School
Kirimatiyawa School is a desperately poor rural Sri Lankan school approximately 17 kms inland from the luxury holiday resort, Bentota.
Thousands of tourists will visit the beautiful beaches of the west coast every year but few if any will ever know Kirimatiyawa Village, much less it’s school.
There are 45 students at Kirimatiyawa School – 23 boys and 22 girls aged between 5 and 10 years old.
Most of these children are seriously undernourished and have very poor health and dental hygiene. The majority of their parents are day workers toiling long hours in the cinnamon plantations. On a good day they will earn £4 - £5. Alcoholism is rife amongst the men and many women have been shipped off to the UAE to work as labourers or domestic servants. Not only will they be away from their children for many years at a time, many will also suffer terrible cruelty at the hands of their employers (this has been well documented).
The Government of Sri Lanka does nothing to stem the diaspora of these women. The export of labour is currently the second largest contribution to the economy of SL. The first being textiles.
The safety and security of these women means very little. 40% of them will come from areas already neglected and marginalised. Many of them will be illiterate and all will be desperately poor.
There are six teachers and a headmaster at Kirimatiyawa.
The headmaster’s name is Mr Chadrakumara and he is one of the most dedicated and honest people I have ever met.
The access to Kirimatiyawa school is very poor. No cars can access these roads, so the students and teachers walk or cycle many miles a day to get there.
There has not been any significant intervention or assistance from the government for over 20 years. There are very few books, even less teaching resources and consequently the literacy rate is around 40%.
If conditions remain the same these children will be condemned to a life of crippling poverty and will inevitably become the next generation of day workers.
Simple things that can help…
1. A monthly food distribution £800
If nutrition improves so too will attendance levels and inevitably academic scores will rise
2. Steel Protection net for Main assembly hall) 100 Sq. Ft £ 950
3. Clean and repair the well. The only fresh water source that is currently contaminated £ 250
4. Paint dilapidated out sidewalls of all buildings £ 700
5. Repair and paint Desks and Chairs £ 350
6. More books £500
7. Library improvements & implementing a computer lab £3,000
8. New school path £300
9. New toilets £3500
10. Electrical repairs, lights and fans £500
11. Dental and health care monthly £500
“The fact that poverty like this exists in 2020 creates a moral stain on a world as rich as this one”
The RSL flagship library at Uragasmanhandiya has enrolled over 7,000 members (January 2020) and now stocks over 50,000 books! On average we have between 150 and 200 members come in to check out books every day.
In June 2011 RSL opened another smaller library on the Uragasmanhandiya site due to increasing numbers of books and new library members. It is equally busy.
The David Pope Collection Library - Uragasmanhandiya
On 2nd February 2016 we opened The David Pope Collection Library at Uragasmanhandiya. RSL’s 11th Library! It houses all of David’s treasured books, which were given to RSL for safe keeping. Huge thanks to Simon Pope!
RSL opened their 6th Library in Mathugama town in January 2013. It is the biggest library so far. It has over 9,000 members (January 2020). Over 300 children per day arrive to check out books. Huge thanks to The Sir James Reckitt Charity and The De Brye Charitable Trust for their continued support.
It is our shining star!
The Hansa Pre School
The Hansa Pre school is at maximum capacity (January 2020) On registration day all the places were full in less than 30 minutes. Thanks, as always, to Lina and Pritesh Desai and friends for maintaining this beautiful school. It has been voted the best Pre School in Southern District for the last 8 years in a row.
160 students are currently enrolled (January 2020)
Mr and Mrs Schleipen have very generously committed to sponsoring this beautiful and extremely needy school near Uragasmanhandiya. There are currently over 110 children at the school.
RSL help currently help 25 widows and their families living in Hambantota. Each family receives approx. £15 - £30 per month. It is one of the poorest districts in the country. This financial support primarily helps with the cost of extra tuition classes for the children. Corruption within the education system in Sri Lanka is widespread and unregulated. Teachers routinely omit vital parts of the curriculum so that their students are forced to attend very expensive after school tuition classes (invariably with the same teachers) in order to obtain the information they need to pass their exams and to move forward in their lives. For children of day workers tuition classes are an impossible luxury and thus the cycle of crippling poverty and illiteracy continues. Without the support of RSL and our donors tuition these children would never dare to dream of further education.
RSL established another library in Kaithady at the Nuffield School for Deaf and Blind on November 27th 2014. It will be run by the school themselves.
The David Pope Library - The Rohana Special School
In June 2015 The David Pope Library was opened at The Rohana Special School for the deaf
Human Link – Kalmunai
Situated on the East Coast of Sri Lanka this incredible family run school serves differently abled children and young adults. Its focus is on care, providing relevant skills and encouraging their students to become independent, productive and highly recognized members of society. Some of the children they are teaching were found locked away in rooms, neglected and ostracized. One girl is still suffering extreme post traumatic stress after nearly dying in the tsunami. This is only a small area and 4,000 people lost their lives here in December 2004. RSL have been helping support this school since it opened in May 2007. In order to serve greater numbers of children the school needs a bigger building and more staff. Annual running costs for this project are £6,000. We would love it if there were someone out there who would like to sponsor this wonderful place. Please get in touch!! Plans for 2009 are for Human Link to open a laundry to generate additional income for the facility. They also hope to launch an initiative to teach 100 parents of deaf children to be fluent in sign language.
In 2006 RSL discovered a school in a very poor area that had been terribly neglected. On our first visit there we found a child asleep at her desk, exhausted from hunger. RSL immediately set about improving conditions by providing uniforms, shoes, books and nutrition. Thanks to the enormous generosity of Loughborough Grammar School we were able to build a new school there that was officially opened on 28th August 2006. With the help of LGS we continue to provide dry rations to the families of each child on a monthly basis. In November 2008 Batukanaththa enjoyed a complete refurbishment and repaint. They have a wonderful new principal there who is extremely proactive and who, with the help of RSL, has introduced a small library at the school. Admissions for the new school year in 2020 were the highest ever experienced.
The Marcsri Home, Kalutara
With the help of generous donations from Pritesh Desai and Friends and the Brave Fish Yogis we are looked after the nutritional and practical requirements at this residential home for the elderly and disabled for over ten years.
Boat Building In May 2005 RSL completed a two-month programme to supply fishing catamarans, nets of various types and some larger hulls. Our reports demonstrate that 144 fishermen have now returned to work as a result of this programme. Approximately 646 people benefit directly from these incomes being restored.
Since the disaster RSL have built toilets in over 50 locations. RSL continues to provide toilets where they are needed. In addition RSL have provided wells and fresh water in many areas. It’s not too glamorous (!!), but if anyone would like to sponsor a loo, it costs only £250 to build a really nice one!
Sea Beach South Project
Temporary Housing in Ambalangoda Sam Rowe (UK) and Shawn Fernando (US) are two RSL volunteers who managed this project building temporary housing in this area. The building was completed in 2005. Unfortunately Ambalangoda is a very densely populated area making it very difficult to find land for these families. Seventy houses were provided by RSL. Donors Roger and Hedvig Bates and Rod and Mary Hudson visited this project in 2005. “Our visit was most appreciated as was the generosity of those who donated…..” click here to read more. You can also visit the link below to hear RSL interviewed by BBC Five Live. This programme was aired on Boxing Day 2005. Listen Here
Payagala Housing Project
RSL completed a major project to build medium term housing for 350 refugees in Payagala. 998 families in this one tiny area lost their homes. Temporary homes were built, the land cleared and toilets & electricity provided. Our link with “Swim Lanka” meant that we were also able to provide a pool and swimming lessons for the children in this area.
Permanent Houses and RSL Village!
All permanent houses in Payagala, Ambalangoda and Kosgoda are complete. The RSL village in Magalakanda was officially opened on 2nd September 2006. It was a fantastic day and the recipients were all over the moon. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this amazing project. There are still many families in desperate need of permanent homes. To build a two-bedroom house complete with kitchen and bathroom costs £4,000.
In January 2005 RSL started work with 24 schools in the Beruwela educational region. RSL provided books, shoes, special needs equipment, uniforms, sports and music equipment and teaching aids in all of these schools. Sadly, destitution was a very real crisis for many families and they were unable to afford even the bus fares to get their children to and from school. RSL implemented a travel supplement scheme, which provided monthly cash disbursements to displaced families to help them with transportation costs for these children. RSL continued this scheme for six months. Many children returned to school as a result. RSL identified several schools where the diet of students was very poor. In response to this situation we started a nutrition programme in April 2005 providing a mid morning snack in these schools on a daily basis. Attendance rose dramatically as a result and academic progress witnessed a marked improvement. RSL has been able to achieve unprecedented government permission to arrange sponsorship between Sri Lankan schools and schools in the U.K. This initiative has been supported by Loughborough Grammar School, Colton Hills Community College, Bedford Modern School and Leehurst Swan in Wiltshire. All our schools have been provided with new first aid kits and supplies donated courtesy of Mary Fair and Kings Street Club, Walsall Wood. Many thanks! RSL has completed the refurbishment of the deaf unit in Aluthgama thanks to a very generous donation from Di and Jim Bolton, providing wonderful new classrooms and proper equipment for these fantastic children. RSL continues to improve safety standards in schools by correcting structural problems and by improving sanitation and security.
Rural Schools Revival Programme
It is widely recognised that the effects of the tsunami in December 2004 are far reaching and extend well beyond those who suffered actual physical damage. In rural areas the poverty is terrible and the schools have suffered extreme neglect. Some of the parents who worked in tourism in Sri Lanka before the tsunami have lost their jobs and have been forced to go to the Middle East to take jobs in hotels, restaurants and private homes. They may not see their children for many months, even years at a time. As a result, the already traumatized country is becoming more fragmented as children are no longer enjoying the security of a close family unit. Nutrition is another key issue. Some of the children attending rural schools arrive having had nothing to eat and will not eat all day. Concentration and energy levels are extremely low. Rebuilding Sri Lanka selected ten of the worst affected schools and has provided nutritional assistance, uniforms, shoes and teaching equipment.
Child Resource Centre – Hambantota
In March 2005 one of our trustees decided to travel as far as Hambantota to identify projects which were in need of help. The situation is dire in many of these villages and this had prompted RSL to widen its area of support. RSL worked alongside the TDA in Hambantota and funded and helped create a Children’s Resource Centre. It is the only facility of its kind and provides one to one counselling, interactive games, a secure and well-equipped play facility and computer & English lessons on a daily basis. Hambantota lost over 40% of its population on 26th December 2004 and we identified over 250 children who have lost either one or both parents. This facility is dedicated to improving the lives of these children and providing them with hope and support for the future. Please click on www.crclanka.com for further information. Many thanks to Mari Linnman at The Art Farm for her generosity and support of the CRC.
We have identified four hospitals and we are providing them with basic medical supplies. Additionally, we have provided machines, beds, linen and have funded several operations and responded to many requests for insulin. Special thanks to Mary and Mick Fair and to Lina and Pritesh Desai for their generous support of this programme.
So far we have helped 60 recipients get back to work in the following occupations;
boat repair men
English Language Seminars
At the beginning of January 2006 RSL started English Language Seminars for children in tsunami affected areas. It is widely recognised that standards of English in local schools are fairly low and vocational training is virtually non-existent. It is our hope that by providing this service we will enable the children to have greater opportunities when they leave school.
Everyone at RSL would like to extend their warmest thanks to all those people throughout the country (and in Europe, the US, Bermuda and Australia!) who have been working tirelessly to raise donations and awareness on behalf of RSL. There have been many wonderful events and we are extremely grateful to you for all your support. If you would like to discuss ideas for future fundraisers please call Clare on 01722 413481. Thank you.
An extremely important aspect of working in overseas development is to make productive links with other NGOs and charities that are also working “on the ground”. Developing relationships with charities such as Downton Friends of Tsunami, Restore Sri Lanka, We Care, The Abhina Foundation, Swim Lanka, Village Trust for Tsunami Affected Communities, Adopt Sri Lanka, No Strings International, Wherever the Need, eRanger, The Rainbow Centre, REBUILDING FOUNDATION and Unconditional Compassion have proved to be an invaluable source of support, inspiration and mutual assistance. Please visit our links page to out more about any of these organisations.