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Sri Lanka: New Preschool, New Kids, Same Great Idea

July 27, 2010 - Sri Lanka

by Jonathan White

photo: The new class of preschoolers of Palathuduwa

Our Tangalle Children Relay Preschool had operated with our support from 2006 until the end of 2009. During this time, Real Medicine covered the teacher’s, the children were provided with uniforms, stationary, playing instruments, school materials, cultural and educational tours, a daily meal, and medical treatments all free of charge.   In an great example of our long term goals of self-sustainability, over the past few years the community we have been serving has been able to slowly recover from the Tsunami and return to their previous lifestyle.  This also means the community is now in a position to be able to afford to send their children to a paying preschool and support their family’s needs without our outside help.

For 2010, the management of the school has decided to move the project to a new location, the village of Palathuduwa, to provide the same services to a much needed community.   Our group is very well known in the area for its charitable activities, and a preschool in Palathuduwa had approached our team for possible support to help fund and manage their preschool.  This other school had been operating successfully for many years, but had recently run into financial difficulties and was in danger of closing down without further help.

Background of the new location

Palathuduwa is about 2 km further inland from our old location in Tangalle. There are around 200 families in the area, mainly low income, and making their living in rice farming, animal husbandry, brick making and other labor work.   The temple and school is in the middle of the village, Palathuduwa temple has become the community centre for all the village activities and the chief monk is the leader of the village and guides the villagers.

Background of the existing preschool at Palathuduwa temple

The first preschool activity at the temple location started in year 1989, with some very basic facilities and untrained teachers.  The Tsunami didn’t do much damage to the temple and school buildings, but the impact to the village community of Palathuduwa was very high. After the Tsunami, aid agencies and other projects were set up in the area. During this time, the attendance at the preschool was very high, as many of the area’s parents did not want to send their children to the preschools closer to town and the coast, because of continued fears of another tsunami. In 2006, with the support of the locally established “Janasuwaya Foundation” and donation of foreign funds the community was able to build a larger and more suitable school building.

By 2010, the financial situation of the school and lack of funding to pay the teachers had come to a crisis point, and the school put out an appeal for help to the few NGOs or aid agencies that are still in the area.   Our group at the Tangale Preschool was presented with the appeal and due to the fortunate timing of the closure of our other project, they were happy to look into the school’s viability

Soon after our staff decided to take over the administration of the preschool on February 2010 with the support of RMF, the situation returned to normal. The teachers are very happy again, the chief monk is very proud to see the preschool is back in normal operation and the children are running here and there again. The villagers are also happy that they can again send their children to the preschool without any additional cost. Presently, there are 15 children attending the preschool with 3 preschool teachers. A freshly prepared mid day meal is provided each day. The stationary and working materials are provided free of charge to each child and teachers. The children’s health is also regularly checked.

Our goal is again to create a sustainable solution for these villagers, and enable them to eventually take over the funding and management of the school.

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