Helping the children to access water more easily, by building their first school drinking tap
When we recently received the generous offer of a donation from one of our customers (thank you very much Paul and Glenn from Hearts Global), we decided to invest the money in a project that would make a real, practical difference to the lives of students, teachers and villagers in one of our target areas.
Money can go a long way in rural Sri Lanka and our team there soon identified a perfect opportunity to spend the £250 to maximum effect – all of the money donated is spent on helping the children, we cover all admin costs and our staff donate their time for free.
On a recent visit to one of the schools attended by children supported by the PEF, our team discovered that there was no access to water and teachers, parents and pupils were spending a lot of time collecting water from a small spring on the top of a hill a few kilometres away. Despite the heat, they were also not drinking enough water (in order to cut down on the tie spent collecting it) and this was making it difficult for the children to concentrate in class.
So, working with the school principal the PEF arranged to buy the equipment needed to draw clean water from a nearby source and, after a day of hard work in the hot Sri Lankan sun, the resourceful parents had finished the work and the excited children took their first drink from the school tap.
|Shanuki Imasha||Ravi Abhishok||Sawbagya Swemini|
|(Kaluthara District)||(Jaffna District)||(Ampara District)|
The winner of our Christmas 2015 drawing competition is Sawbagya Sewmini. Sawbagya has been supported by the PEF since 2011 and she continues to excel in all that she does
Sawbagya lives in a small rural village in Sri Lanka, in a district called Ampara. Sawbagya joined the Proporta Education Foundation in 2011, after we made it our mission to help support more students. A talented artist with an inherent creative flair, Sawbagya’s house was filled with her colourful, vibrant drawings – however these were offset by the broken, dilapidated walls in her home. Sawbagya’s extremely talented at capturing the beauty of the natural landscape around her, and she always adds her own touch to her work. With a genuinely friendly and somewhat shy disposition, this lovely little girl brings a smile to all of our faces, and we hope she will for you too – even if just through her art. The Foundation will continue to support Sawbagya through her studies, as she hopes to become a doctor one day, helping the local people in her small town. Well done Sawbagya.
After many visits to students over the last few years in very different regions of Sri Lanka, our team realised that too many families rely heavily on kerosene lamps for their daily housework – and homework. We realised that the lack of access to electricity was posing a challenge to our students and their families, especially in the areas badly affected during the war. Studying in the dark at night is the reality for many students in Sri Lanka, as daylight ends at 6pm throughout the year in Sri Lanka.
[Picture above: Lynnette, from our UK team with Mahesh, from our Sri Lankan office and a PEF student at her house, after they delivered her a solar torch. Their journey from Colombo involved a 6.5 hour bus ride and 2 hours in a Tuk Tuk plus an hour trek through the jungle. Every day she travels 23kms to and from school. Proporta staff split the cost of a bike between them and delivered it during the next trip.]
After some further research, we realised that this was something that was worth pursuing. Lack of electricity and over-reliance on kerosene was a recurring theme across the country.
While the PEF could not yet give the students and their families access to electricity (we are working on it), our emphasis on providing inexpensive, simple and practical solutions for the students meant that we could help them in a different way: with solar lighting, students would be able to study even after 6pm without having to expose themselves to the use of kerosene.
We did some research on the subject and found a solar lamp certified by the World Bank and produced in Australia by Flexiway. We chose it for its simple design, its good capacity (charging vs hours of light provided) and its relatively low cost. We have treated the first year of this project as a pilot round which has proved to be so successful that we will continue to supply solar lamps to those of our selected students who lack access to electricity and rely on kerosene for their studies.
[Pictures above: A PEF student studying with a solar torch and another with Vipula, from our Sri Lankan team, presenting a torch to a PEF student outside her house.]
It is also our plan to incorporate the subject of electricity and lighting into our application form in order for us to easily identify those students who potentially need help with lighting. When we visit the students to assess them for the scholarship application, we will then be able to take this into consideration and donate the solar lamps to those who need them.
Our team in Sri Lanka have received many letters from students and their families who have written on receipt of the lamps to say thanks, and to let us know how happy they are. Because the PEF takes a practical view of the work that we do, we will continue to look into ways in which the PEF can help current and future students with practical and simple solutions to the challenges they face on a daily basis – challenges that make their life as students difficult, impossible or even unsafe.
Kerosene statistics from around the world…
- 4 billion people across the world live without access to grid electricity
- 8 – 10 hours of charging the lamp creates 5 – 6 hours of light
- According to the World Bank, 780 million women and children inhale a volume of smoke equivalent to two packs of cigarettes a day from kerosene lamps
- 60% of female lung cancer victims across the developing world are non-smokers
As you may know, we’ve set up a charity in Sri Lanka (www.proporta.org) and paired it with a UK registered charity to provide financial support to talented children – helping them to remain in education. We’ve kept it intentionally small so that we can respond to individual needs, not admin costs… A £ raised is truly a £ given.
One of the things we find most rewarding is noticing the similarities, as well as the differences, between Sri Lankan and British culture. So we thought we’d introduce some of our PEF students to the pupils from a local school, Woodingdean Primary, near our hometown of Brighton, UK.
Over the past few weeks both sets of students have been extremely excited to receive letters from their new pen pals and they’ve enjoyed writing and reading about their favourite subjects (religious studies, maths and art), games (football and cricket) and what they want to be when the grow up (singer/songwriters, doctors and engineers).
1. Tweet us @EducateSriLanka
2. Visit our eBay store and purchase a Proporta accessory, and we’ll make a donation to the PEF.
3. Invest £5 – we’ll supply a PEF student with a solar LED lamp (important because many of our students don’t have electricity and kerosene lamps are terrible for their health).
4. Invest £35 – we’ll buy them a bike to help them get to school. This is a more common challenge than you’d expect, with long journeys in remote, rural areas and even wild elephants to contend with.
5. Invest £75 – this will fund one of our students for a whole year.