The Inspiration for UKFG inspiration
Mr Hewavidana, who was the manager of Waulugala Tea estate, Galle for 50 years, spent most of his time helping the poor and needy. As well as founding of Ullala School at Kamburupitiya. Mr Hewavidana was a very kind and generous person who built many temples, village halls , hospital wards and formed various charities to help under privileged fellow countrymen who lived in abject poverty. Until Mr Hewavidana retired, one third of his monthly salary was given to Hewavidana Scholarship scheme where over 400 poor children received money to continue with their studies. Thanks to his generosity, many children who would have left school due to poverty, went on to higher studies and became Doctors, engineers , accountants and teachers Mr D C Hewavidana would have been proud to see his elder son Devsiri, together with brothers Laksiri, Kithsiri and sister Chulanie is carrying on with the charity work he had started many decades ago. UKFG is the ultimate tribute for him .
Main Sponsors: Devsiri and Ruvini Hewavidana
Devsiri was born and brought up in Galle, his wife Ruvini is from the next large town in the South, Matara. Devsiri was educated in Mahinda College in Galle and Ananda College in Colombo before coming to the UK for further studies in 1974. Having Graduated in a BSc degree at De Montfort University, Leicester and obtained a Masters Degree at Loughborough University, he now works as a Lean Manufacturing Consultant. They have 3 children Deshan (boy) Shynie (girl) and Dinum (boy). They live in Ashford in Kent.
In 1999 Devsiri and Ruvini started to sponsor 5 children from poor families so they could have a better future. They set up local bank accounts in the children’s name and arranged with the bank that the families would be allowed to withdraw 1000 rupees a month (about £5). This pays for the child’s schooling, school uniform and there is a little over for extras lessons or food.
When the Tsunami came they obviously were very concerned and realised that all the millions of pounds that had been donated by countries around the world was not reaching the people who needed it urgently.
His appeal (see original email) touched so many people. Carolyn Nevinson, The Managing Director of Devsiri’s then employers Brookson Limited sent (£500) for a house. This was the estimate to build a proper brick and tile house on land that was already owned. This went up as labour and material was in demand and finally reached £1000. The Brookson house was finished and handed over to a family in March 05. The Friends and Collegues at various companies where Devsiri has worked in the past rallied round to raise more funds and thanks to their extraordinary genorosity,
Val and Mick Chittenden
Val and Mick gave Devsiri £1000 for the next house and also sponsored 5 more children. We sent emails to our friends and family asking for a £1 or the change that falls out of pockets and down the side of the sofa and collected £927.10. The family who received CASCO House already owned the land. Val thought that we could furnish the next house – CASCO House – with this money, but when she travelled out to Sri Lanka she found that prices had risen again and the house was going to cost £2,400. She gave them all the money she had collected towards the build, but it left us short by a few hundred pounds. The outstanding sum was donated by Alan Hutchison who later donated the Alan Hutchison House. Mick & Val continue to actively support UKFG and its children financially and emotionally and continue to support Siri in his endeavours.
Margaret & Ted Taylor
They were introduced to UKFG by Val and Mick Chittenden, as Margaret runs a property management business and looks after Val & Mick’s home in Florida.
The above picture shows Ted and Margaret with Mick and Val (left to right).
Nicky Pharoah & Colin Newbold
Since 2004, Nicky and Colin have been involved with the charity United Kingdom Friends of Galle (UKFG). They are both directors of TLC – The Learning Curve, an organisational talent development consultancy.
UKFG was set up by Devsiri (Siri) Hewavidana and his family immediately after the Tsunami in December 2004 and is dedicated to improving the lives of people and children in the poor rural areas of Galle by building homes and building and equipping schools. Siri was a past participant in one of TLC’s management development programmes.
Over the past five years TLC have:
Adopted Massmulle School in Kamburupitiya and have:
- Fully sponsored the build of Lilian Field library and extra class rooms
- Donated annually pairs of new shoes, uniforms and underwear to every child in the school (100 pupils)
- Donated books, school bags and sporting equipment to every child in the school (100 pupils) twice over the past 4 years
- Renovated the school ‘well’ so the children have clean water to drink
- Donated pens and exercise books to all children five times over the past 4 years
- Donated all musical instruments for the school band Sponsored ten children through the awarding of scholarships
- Provided food parcels to the families of their sponsored children
Provided shoes, uniforms and leisure wear for Puswelkada school near Galle (35 pupils)
Provided funds for the Pharoah house donated to Mohideen’s family in Galle
They visited the school in January 2012 and met the teachers, children and parents and were deeply humbled and moved by the impact their donations had made not only to the quality of the education but to the children and the surrounding community.
They continue to support UKFG through their personal contributions and those of their company.
Sue Fuller & Family
First of all, I would like to give you a little background information which will explain why I chose to visit this beautiful country in October 2006, with my husband and two boys. Sri Lanka, as everyone knows, was one of the unfortunate countries which were hit by the Tsunami on December 26 2004. The area most affected was Galle, a fishing Town in the south west. I work in the Foreign Services Department at First Direct bank in Leeds. Our customers contact us when they want to send money to other countries. One day, I received a letter, from a customer asking First Ddirect to send money to Sri Lanka. This customer, who now lived in the UK, told me all about the devastation in his home town of Galle. He knew of many people who had lost their lives in the Tsunami and of those fortunate to survive it, many had lost their homes. He said he wanted to send this money to help rebuild homes for the people of Galle and some of his friends in England had offered to help him. During our conversation, I asked him about the children who had been affected by the Tsunami and told him I would like to help in some way. (I personally did not feel comfortable sending my hard earned money to a large organisation, not really knowing how it would be used). He said that, he and his wife sponsored some children, which enabled them to have all the necessary equipment they needed to receive a good education. Unlike the schools in England, they do not all have text books or exercise books let alone computer rooms or art rooms and in some cases, they have limited supplies of paper and pencils. As I have two boys of my own, one who is 14 and one who is 9, I told him I would like to sponsor two boys of the same ages so they could build up a relationship with my two boys. The two boys we sponsor are called Ishan and Kalpa. Ishan is now 16 years old and speaks English quite well. He wrote to me soon after his sponsorship began, to thank me for helping him in his education. In his first letter to me he also wrote “we have another hope – it is the hope to see you”
This was why we chose to visit Sri Lanka. We met both boys on a visit to Galle during our holiday. Najila, a lovely girl who looks after the children’s accounts and ensures they use the money wisely on items for school, brought both boys to our hotel. We spent a wonderful day getting to know each other and although the youngest boy Kalpa did not speak English, his actions spoke louder than words. The boys built up an instant rapport with my own two sons and it gave us great pleasure to bring some happiness and hope to their lives. We receive correspondence from both boys in the form of letters and cards.
UKFG only agree sponsorship of a child who has clearly demonstrated a keen ability to regularly attend school and put effort into their work. Other checks are made to ensure the family are genuine and unable to help the child themselves. This is monitored on an ongoing basis. This project has continued to grow and there is now a website which holds information for anyone interested – www.ukfg.net (United Kingdom Friends of Galle). To date ukfg have built 5 houses and sponsor 140 children. We really had the most fantastic, memorable time in Sri Lanka and it was Ishan’s words which made it all worthwhile. When we took him back at home after spending the day with him and Kalpa he said “Sue, I think this is the most unforgettable day of my life”. Sponsoring these children has brought immeasurable happiness to all concerned. I would recommend anyone to put their trust in ukfg and for only approximately £70 per year (depending on the exchange rates as each child received 1000 rupees per month); they can make a big difference to a child’s life. It is the most worthwhile, rewarding, genuine project I have ever been involved in.
Camilla and Neil Heron
Camilla and Neil Heron were introduced to the charity by Margaret and Ted Taylor. They have 2 children themselves and work in the travel industry. Having spent time in many countries that were affected by the Tsunami they were deeply moved by the scenes on the news as the story of the tsunami broke. When asked if they could assist in helping children that were affected they were delighted to become sponsors.”
Harrow Tsunami Relief Fund
When the Tsunami struck in Sri Lanka on Boxing Day 2004, Harrow School had a cricket team playing on the test-match ground in Galle. It was the desire of the Harrow boys playing on the tour and the rest of the School community that any money raised by Harrow should be directed to relief and development in the Galle area and other regions of the country badly affected. The Harrow Tsunami Relief Fund was established, as part of the School’s development and fundraising arm, the Harrow Development Trust, registered charity no 296097. Now, years later, more than £500,000 has been raised and distributed to relief projects in Sri Lanka.