Devsiri was in Srilanka for a week in May 2008. During that short period he visited several rural schools and gave away the pens his generous employer, Cummins Diesel System UK, had donated. He was shocked at the dilapidated state of some schools in the South. One such school did not even have toilets.
Children at the Puswelkada Junior School in Galle greeted his party warmly. They sang beautiful songs in Sinhala, Tamil and English, and performed traditional dances. Sadly, all the smiling children had no shoes. Every morning they walk along hot gravel roads for three or four miles to reach the school. Their parents work at nearby tea estates and some earn less than £10 a month, so cannot afford to buy a pair of shoes for the equivalent £5. Devsiri was quite concerned to learn that the children were about to loose their temporary music teacher because the government would not want to continue paying her monthly salary of £11)
Devsiri was also quite concerned about the 50-year-old roof of the school, which was rotten to its core, and was an accident waiting to happen.
On his return to the UK Devsiri told his friends about the plight of these bright and beautiful children at the Puswelkada School. One of his friends, local Newsagent Michael immediately donated money to buy them shoes, another paid for one year’s salary for their music teacher so the children could continue to learn and play music at school. Mick and Val Chittenden paid for new books and Devsiri has started a fund to get the school roof repaired In a grand ceremony, on 30th May 2008, Mr Sirisena Gamage and other guests presented the books and brand new pairs of shoes to all the children. According to the principal Mrs Margret Wellapily, it was a joy to see the delighted children walking up and down the corridor to get used to walking in shoes for the first time in their life. Thanks to the generosity of UKFG these children could now continue to learn and enjoy the music they love, and walk to school in shoes instead of bare feet.
These are the pictures taken that day. Click the images below to enlarge