Sri Lanka

Update from the Field

March 21, 2007

Mahendra Andrahennedige

"As we understand, as human beings, our greatness lies, not so much in being able to remake the world, but to make the world a better place' By doing the best we can, for ourselves not, but for the needy, where it is needed'"


On December 26, 2004 a massive underwater earthquake triggered a Tsunami that unleashed its natural terror, resulting in one of the most catastrophic, deadliest disasters known in the history of man.

Even several months after the Tsunami, we realized among the community in and around Tangalle, how many people were still having so many hardships in their lives: children not attending schools, parents running here and there to get donations and to government officers to prepare and replace essential and necessary documents, totally neglecting their little kids at home. School girls were left alone at home or in orphanages without any protection…

In this situation, we took on the responsibility to start to do something for the neediest ones. We joined forces with our friends from Europe (Germany, England and France), the USA and Sri Lanka to raise funds to provide immediate and short-term humanitarian assistance.

Providing individual help to needy families:

  • Renting two homes and employing three families in these homes until they would find a permanent home (LKR 13,500.00 per month).
  • Helping a family to buy a spice grinding mill to originate an income to maintain two children as they were homeless and the father had lost his job (LKR 25,000.00).
  • Helping an old grandmother to buy a sewing machine to carry on her life with her orphaned grandchild (LKR 25,000.00).Helping a father to buy a bicycle to continue to sell fish for his and his son's daily living (LKR 6,000.00).
  • Helping a young father to build a pulling cart to sell snacks for his daily income (LKR 5,000.00).Helping a father of a little kid to make the floor cement for the child to play (LKR 5,000.00).
  • Helping a grandmother to start a business making morning hoppers to support the seven family members living with her (LKR 9,500.00).Helping a young father to buy a fishing katamaran to feed his two children (LKR 30,000.00).
  • Helping a young father to buy a second hand out-board engine to make it possible for him to do deep sea fishing again (LKR 60,000.00).Helping a man to buy a second hand three-wheeler to continue his business and support his two small children (LKR 100,000.00).
  • Buying fishing nets for a fisherman who had lost them in the Tsunami (LKR 15,000.00).
  • Buying fishing nets for a second fisherman who had lost his nets in the Tsunami (LKR 12,500.00).
  • Helping a fatherless family of five (LKR 5,000.00 each month).
  • Supporting a fatherless family of four (LKR 3,000.00 each month).
  • Helping an old couple with their living expenses and medicine, and their widowed daughter to continue her coir rope making business (LKR 4,000.00 each month).
  • Helping a university student, whose father is half blind and cannot work (LKR 3,000.00 each month).
  • Helping a family to school two children (LKR 2,000.00 each month).
  • Helping a fisherman to buy a new boat and built a new house after losing everything in the Tsunami (LKR 400,000.00).
  • Buying a new boat (long distance) for a fisherman, who had lost it in the Tsunami (LKR 10,000,000.00).Implementing a new place for 16 pre-school children.
  • Creating a hostel for 16 students.


  • Continuing the individual help to needy families.
  • Running a student home for 16 female high school students from remote villages.
  • Finding individual sponsorships for their future studies at university.
  • Running a kindergarten/ pre-school for 16 children.
  • Opening a second kindergarten for 11 needy kids at a tsunami housing village.
  • Creating 10 jobs: 1 director, 5 teachers, 2 maids, 1 gardener and 1 accountant.
  • Creating a Social Service Center (registration in process).
  • Managing a budget for all these projects: investments and sustainability.

1. Continuing the individual help to needy families :

Even before the Tsunami, many families were in need of social support. After the Tsunami, some of them have been helped, some haven't and still have real needs. We try to help some of them by providing direct help. We are also looking for individual sponsorship for these families, from Sri Lanka and from abroad.

This is Kumara and his family in front of his home after the Tsunami. He received some help to build a new home, and his wife is working in our kindergarten. We are supporting them with LKR 2,000.00/month until the family can settle into normalcy. At the moment, they are much happier than before.


Kusumalatha and her only son Sudesh in front of their home. Sudesh lost his father in the Tsunami. His mother had to start working at a road construction company as a laborer, bud did not earn enough money to give her son a better education.

Now we are helping this mother and her son with monthly support to have a better education for Sudesh, who is hoping to become an engineer.

Pemanada is the father of four children. He is half blind, so he cannot find work for himself. His wife has to work as a cooking assistant at a nearby factory to feed the family. When their elder son got his exam to enter Engineering University, they found it very hard to find money for him. So we decided to help him by paying LKR3,000.00/month to cover his basic expenses at university. Now he is studying in his last year.

2. Running a student house (hostel) for 16 students:

This is like a youth hostel. Everything is provided (bed, food, tea…). The house was in bad condition and needed to be renovated.

The house is now fully furnished. There are four rooms for the students, one for the two maids, two bathrooms, a furnished kitchen, a dining room and a study room. There is also a garden, a TV and a telephone. The improvements are continuing.

The students are attending school every day (as per schedule), then come back, have tea and then start their homework. We are planning to soon have English and computer classes, twice a week.

Picnics, temple visits, movies are organized once per month, sometimes more frequently.

The girls at our facility are mainly students from rural areas, who had to travel to Tangalle 50 to 60km one way (mornings and evenings) or more, to achieve their higher education. These girls are basically from low income families and were having difficulties to continue their education at home. As we want some involvement from the families and the students, a small participation is requested LKR 500.00. This money is used for entertainment.

3. Finding individual sponsorships for advanced study at university:

Most of the students would like to continue their studies at university. We are creating individual files containing their profile (name, family background, pictures, study interests, hobbies…) and are looking for people willing to sponsor their advanced studies at university. Student's files are available for download at the bottom of the page.

4. Running a kindergarten/ pre-school for 16 children:

This is a pre-school for 18 children, whose parents are too poor to afford to pay for their children to attend. Three teachers are in charge. Meal, milk, tea and all the tools to draw and toys to play are provided free of charge.

5. Creating seven jobs :To sustain all these projects, we are employing seven people:

  • A manager, who is overseeing the entire project and who is the main contact between the association and the subsidisers (mainly from abroad).
  • Four teachers for the kindergarten (one trainee).
  • Two maids (one for the day and one for the night).
  • One accountant & office assistant.
  • One gardener, who is also maintaining the house.

6. Creation of a local structure and organization:

We are creating a Social Service Center in Tangalle to manage and oversee our projects. It is being processed right now by the local administration. This association will be the legal structure, through which the subsidies will be managed. The name of this association is TANGALLE CHILDREN RELAY. It is supported by a French association, RELAIS ENFANT, doing rehabilitation for women and children in France, and REAL MEDICINE FOUNDATION in Los Angeles, caring for children and their families, and providing disaster relief around the world. It is also supported by private sponsors from Germany, Kuwait and England.

Photos: (upper L) everybody who is part of the pre-school and the hostel; (upper R) the students at a waterfall; (lower L) our staff; (lower R) an evening at the beach.

7. Managing a budget for the project:

Starting out the kindergarten/ pre-school project, we rented a room facing the garden of a big house that needed renovation. When we decided to add a student's home (hostel), we decided to rent the entire house, to renovate it and to buy furniture:


French Association: Le Relais Enfant
German Association: Tangalle family friendship
USA: Real Medicine Foundation
Private people from Germany, Kuwait, England and Sri Lanka


To this day, to create the kindergarten, student's home and to support the above mentioned families, we have already invested LKR 1,650,000.00.


The monthly cost for this project are about LKR 200,000.00 ($US 2,000.00).


We have been running this new project for the last seven months, and we are budgeting for the years 2007 and 2008. We are experiencing a very high demand for our services. Every day, students and their parents from remote areas visit us seeking accommodation. The same situation exists for our pre-school. There are 28 new children, who would like to join our pre-school for the next year. But as we are limited to 16 students and 16 young girls, we will not be able to help them in the near future. So I would like to offer this opportunity for your consideration and support as well.
Thank you.

Our future:

What does Tangalle Children Relay want to do in the future? We would like to:

  • Open a second youth hostel in Tangalle.
  • Improve the quality of the present pre-school.
  • Open a domestic library and physical laboratory at our present facility.
  • Find individual sponsors for the future of our students.
  • Raise the funds to sustain our existing projects through the year 2008.
  • Find our own income for the future of our projects to be self-sufficient and self-sustainable.
  • Start a microfinance project for the parents of our students
  • Become the owner of our existing sweet home.

These are our basic plans for the future and any other possible projects or ideas are most welcome. Our team at Tangalle Children Relay thanks all of you for the fantastic effort given for us to make our dreams a reality.
 Thank you.


Mr. Mahendra Andrahennedige
280, Tissa road, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Mobile: 00 94 0 713 216 316
Tel: 00 94 0 602 482 536



Related Files:

Students Profile (.1 MB pdf)