Visit to Sapugoda Rathanapala School

Dinum Hewavidana visited Sapugoda Rathanapala School with  the Kamburupitiya Seylan bank Manger Mr Sajeewa and Mr Ananda hewavidana. The school principal and children warmly welcomed the guests.   They visited the Neil Carson library , donated by Mr Neil and Mrs Helen Carson in 2012.  The principal said they all were grateful to carson family because the library has helped many of the children to pass the  scholarship Examinations.   

During the visit  Sapugoda children were very happy to receive various gifts from Dinum.   At their invitation, Dinum ran an impromptu football coaching session for the boys while the girls looked on.  The cricket loving children were delighted to learn this new game called “Soccer” .  At the end of the  session they were delighted to receive a British coin each from Dinum .   Addressing the children, the Seylan bank manager Mr Sanjeewa promised to help the schools with facilities in the future. 

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Donation of the much needed printer to Kahagoda School Kamburupitiya

On 12th August  2017  Dinum and Deshan Hewavidana ceremoniously handed over the much needed printer to the Vice Principal of the Kahagala school  at Kamburupitiya.  Speaking at the assembly, the vice principal reminded the children how Deshan and Dinum visited them a five years before and donated 250  of new text books to the school library and treated all of them to ice cream

 The much needed printer  was a generous gift by the  former CEO of Johnson Matthey (LONDON), Mr Neil Carson,  his wife Mrs Helen Carson,  and their daughter Hannah.  

At the end of the event Deshan and Dinum treated the girls and boys with sweets and presented each of them a English coin each.

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Handing over the new safety wall to Ullala school

Johnson Matthey PLC (London) is one of the main benefactors of the children supported by UKFG.  Immediately after the Tsunami, the company offered 30 scholarships to  Tsunami victim children.  They have continuously sponsored the same number of children over the last thirteen years. Neil Carson, the CEO at Johnson Matthey until 2015, has already generously donated two brand new libraries and thousand new books to Ullala  Maha Vidayalaya and Rathanpala Maha Vidayalaya at Kamburupitiya.

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On the of 3rd November 2015 Ellie Davison Ellie Davison (Group Charity and Communications Manager at JM) -visited Thumbe , Ratanapala and Ulllal schools.  Having seeing the dangerous state of the Ullala school compound and heard that some children and teachers had injured themselves by slipping down the broken pavement , Ellie pledged to fund a new safety wall.  On return to Uk, Ellie had discussed the need of the three schools with the company and they have generously agreed to fund a building project to build a new wall for Ullala school and a new library for Thumbe school.

On 30th June 2017 Saman Deshapriya., The   Director of Education for Kamburupitiya  ceremoniously cut the ribbon and  handed over the brand new safety wall built with the funds of Johnson Matthey.  Neil and Helen Carson and their daughter Hannah  had  sent a generous donation  to reward the bright  pupils of the school as well as to help children who had been badly affected by recent floods .

At the opening ceremony, on behalf of the Carson family , Mr Gamage presented top 3 bright children in each class with a valuable bundle of stationery and  hamper and financial aid to flood victims .

In his speech. Mr  Deshapriya thanked Ellie Davison  and Melanie brown new communication Manager at  Johnson Matthey and Neil Carson family for the continuous support they give to children at Kamburupitiya schools.  In his speech Mr Gamage explained to the new children the history of Ullala School and how hard late Mr D C Hewavidana had to fight the local opposition to build Ullala school at his own expense 71 years ago.    . He expressed his gratitude  to Johnson Matthey, Carson family and Hewavidana family for the continuous support and the vast amount of donations they had made to the school since 2003. The school Principal and the Head Prefect made speeches thanking the donors and explained how much difference these funds have made to Ullala children’s future.  In a colourful ceremony,  school children sang traditional songs and performed cultural dances in honour of the VIP guests.

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Donation of a Photocopier to Ratanapala school Kamburupitiya

On 14th June 2017  Mr Sirisena Gamage, chairman of UKFG ceremoniously handed over the much needed photo copy / printer to Mr Epitakatuwana, Principal of the Sapugoda Ratanapala School  The machine which was worth 165,000 rupees was a generous gift bythe  former Chairman of Johnson Matthey (LONDON), Mr Neil carson  his wife Mrs Helen Carson,  and their daughter Hannah.   Hannah had spent a very happy week at the school as a part of her gap year in February 2017 and won the hearts of all the children

In his address to the assembled 450 children and teachers, the Principal   expressed his utmost gratitude to the Carson family.  He explained that  his school had a great difficulty at exam times every year because they  had to  pay outside shops  to get all the question papers ,school letters and leaflets printed. . In a few occasions.  they could not conduct the term tests due to the high cost of printing .  He said that the gift of Photocopier was a God Send to the school.

Mr Gamage gave away prizes to top 3 children in every class  and also presented the children who had been badly affected by the recent Flood with books and clothes.  . All the presents  were paid for by the Carson family

The principal explained that the most wonderful gift Mr and Mrs Carson had given  to the school was  the  Neil Carson Library that was donated in 2012 .  The Principal further said that the Carson library with all the new text books was the secret of the school children’s success at  Grade 5 and O level exams .  He asked Mr Gamage to convey to Neil their cordial invitation to visit the school one day .

At the end of the ceremony, all children were given an ice cream treat paid for by the Carsons

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Hanna Carson’s gap year visit to Kamburupitiya

On 20th February 2017 Hannah Carson, the daughter of Mr Neil and Helen Carson  who have donated two beautiful libraries  to children,  visited the  UKFG funded  schools  at Kampurupitiya at the invitation of Mr Sirisena Gamage . She was accompanied by the fellow gap year students, Lizzie, Saskia and Milan.  The children of    Ulalla, Rathanjothi, Thumbe and Massmulle schools gave them a tremendous welcome.  They were mesmerised by the  4 VIPS from England

After meeting 1000 of children and getting to know many on the first day, they spent the night at Mr Gamage’s house enjoying the delicious Srilankan food cooked by Mrs Prema Gamage.

During the rest of the week, they spent a day  each at the 4 schools teaching the kids maths and English as well as playing  games , dancing and singing with them.  They also played cricket, Football and Volleyball . 

Here is what Hannah has to say about their unforgettable week…..

Our unforgettable week with the smiling children of  Kamuburupitiya 

-Hannah Carson –

“What an unforgettable week. I feel so lucky to have visited such amazing kids, inspirational teachers and families extremely generous. When we arrived in Kamburupitiya we were treated to a feast of Sri Lankan delicacies – what more could we want. (Dammi and Rattaran Malli, you were very kind to us.)

On day one we visited three schools, Thumbe, Ratanapala and Ullala school, the children greeted us with hand picked flowers and lined the streets. It was truly overwhelming, we have never been welcomed so nicely! (We soon learnt that ‘welcomes’ are something Sri Lankans do very well, as all three schools treated us like royalty from the moment we arrived!) 

Day two, we had our first day as teachers. What a day it was! A highlight was joining the dance class at Ratanapala school. It felt like the whole school was packed into this small classroom, we all danced together, all heights, students small to tall were dancing in unison, for what seemed like an hour. It was a touching moment, everyone was so happy. We were touched that children with so little here in Sri Lanka seemed happier than a lot of the privileged children back in England. We rested well that evening after enjoying a lovely set of curries made by our host Mrs Gamage.

Day three we visited Thumbe School. We enjoyed their weekly school market immensely. It gave us a chance to buy some groceries for our hosts! I bought 5 king coconuts, not realizing how heavy they are! A lot of games of ‘Pictionary’ and ‘hangman’ were played once back in the classroom, and the children were brilliant at spelling. We sang songs and played games all day, it was a lot of fun. One moment that sticks in my mind from that day was making ice creams for the children. They very politely waited while we would put them together, and were so grateful with the treat. It was truly special for us to witness. Later on that afternoon, the boys played cricket while the girls played netball! Then, in true Sri Lankan style, we had a dance off! We could not compete with some of the older girls who had all the moves, much more gracefully than we did.

On day four we were at Ullala School, a day of sports and cooking, my favourite activities. In the heat we were not used to it. I played Netball and it was so nice to bond with my teammates when we scored a goal. Even though it was more difficult for us to communicate, playing sport allowed us to really interact, have fun and get to know one another, without the need for language. We then went to the cooking lesson, and learnt how to make kotthu rotti by Ullala’s lovely cooking teacher. It was delicious! 

Day five was a sports day, and in the heat we played volleyball, netball and cricket! The children were no longer in their very smart school uniform but in home clothes, like I was. It was a great day of fun and games. Ever since leaving the twon, I really started to miss the children, all were so friendly, polite and welcoming. They were all such a credit to their schools. 

This week could not have happened without the help of so many people. You all cared for us so well. Thanks to Devsiri and Laksiri for all their organisation, to Mr and Mrs Gamage for their kind hospitality, for Dammi and Rattaran Ayya for being our parents for the week, to the headmasters and headmistress, the teachers and of course the students. We will never ever forget meeting you all, and the week we spent in your lovely village.”

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Christmas Message from a Sponsor

Once again our generous  donors Nicky Pharoah and Colin Newbold co- proprietors of Learning Curve, Tunbridge Wells are planning to donate School uniforms and shoes to Children’s at Massmulle school (Kamburupitiya)  and  Puswelkada School (Galle) . The donations would take place at the mid  January 2016 .  Nicky and Colin  would also continue with their current  Scholarships given to 10 bright children in Kamburupitiya.

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to them for their continuous support for the poor children In Srilanka

This is Nicky and Colin’s Christmas message for all their friends and business associates

It’s been a tough year for a lot of people. Bad things have happened in the world, both human and natural. But at TLC, we know that kindness and hope go a really long way, and our Christmas message is one which looks to the future.

As many of you know, we work closely with two schools in Sri Lanka, giving some much needed support for new supplies, as well as sponsoring some of the children. We’re always completely humbled by the gratitude our donations are met with, and by the passion for learning and contributing to society that the students display. We’d like to share with you the letter we received from them recently, updating us on their progress.
 
What amazes us most, and makes it so worthwhile, is the ripple effect that hope can have on a whole community. A handful of children get a good education, get good jobs, and then a few more, and more, and soon the wider community is benefiting. More jobs, more amenities, a better reputation.

So this Christmas, our message is about kindness, and the wider impact our thoughts, words and actions can have. We cannot avoid tragedy, but helping others will always count for something, and kindness, love and hope can be the most powerful force on earth.

Merry Christmas to you all, and may the new year be filled with kindness.

From your team at TLC     

letter from Massmulle school

Visit to Thumbe,Ratanapala and Ullala schools Kamburupity Schools by Ellie Davison of Johnson Matthey London

Johnson Matthey PLC (London) is one of the main benefactors of the children supported by UKFG.  Immediately after the Tsunami, the company offered 30 Tsunami

refugee children scholarships .  They have continuously sponsored the same number of children over the last eleven years. Two of the children they sponsored are now undergraduates and Gihari Kusumini Epage gained one of the highest O Level results in the country in 2015 and went on to pass her A levels to gain entry to University. Moreover, on several occasions over the last ten years, Johnson Matthey have contributed towards funds to buy shoes and books for Ullala and Ratanapala Schools.

Neil Carson the CEO at Johnson Matthey until 2015 generously used his personal funds to build and donate two brand new libraries with thousands new books to Ullala  Maha Vidayalaya and Rathanpala Maha Vidayalaya at Kamburupitiya.

Ellie Davison (Group Charity and Communications Manager at JM) was on holiday in Srilanka in October 2015. Hearing about her stay, Mr Sirisena Gamage invited Ellie to visit the schools the company supported to see for herself the difference the company funds made to the education of the children.

On the of 3rd November 2015 Ellie Davison -accompanied by Mr Sirisena Gamage, his son Didul and  Devsiri’s cousin Ananda Hewavidana -visited Thumbe  Ratanapala and Ulllal aschools.  It was a whistle stop tour but the time spent was enough to see how their funds benefit the children.  All three schools gave  her a tremendous welcome.  Ms Davison was garlanded and taken to school in a colourful parade.  All three schools had a special assembly which the staff had organised to greet their distinguish visitors . Traditional songs were sung and beautiful cultural dances were performed by the students.  The school principal, Ms Davidson and Mr Gamage made speeches at all three schools.

Ellie Davison presented seven children who passed Grade 5 Scholarships in three schools with a valuable bundle of stationery each donated by Devsiri’s family as well as her own gifts All other students were given the ball point pens she had brought from home .

Here is what Ellie had to say about this special day she spent at Kamburupitiya – a rural village far away from the usual tourist spots:

A wonderful opportunity to see our giving in action

By Ellie Davison, Johnson Matthey Group Communications Manager

Since joining specialist chemicals company Johnson Matthey in 2014 I have been responsible for managing our community investment budget, which includes donations to several schools through the United Kingdom Friends of Galle (UKFG). founded by Devsiri Hewavidana at Ashford Kent. Our relationship with the UKFG has been in place for more than 11 years, and began after the devastating tsunami of 2004 which took almost 36000 lives in Sri Lanka alone.

I visited Sri Lanka on holiday in November 2015 and took the opportunity to see how our funding was being invested and how it was having a positive impact on the schools and students.

I asked – at quite late notice, I admit – to visit to one of the schools to see what had happened so far and to find out how we might be able to increase our involvement in the future. Mr Sirisena Gamage, the founder of the UKFG and his son Ruvini quickly Didul Gamage organised a visit to three schools for me. To make it to all the sites a 5:00am start was necessary – so much for being on holiday – but boy was it worth it!

The visit really showed me how rural schools in Sri Lanka operate with very little money indeed, but an awful lot of creativity.

I had asked for a ‘low key’ visit, but I think our ideas of ‘low key’ were quite different! I was greeted at the first school, Thumbe, by dozens of smiling children. The Thumbe school is lovely and well maintained if a little lacking in resources, but that didn’t stop the children, who had created instruments from old water bottles filled with pebbles as maracas, to coconut shells they banged together as cymbals.

Each school treated me to music and dance performances and several talented students made presentations in impressive English. At each of the schools I was also honoured to make presentations to students that had recently completed their 11+ exams with excellent results : an achievement that simply wouldn’t be possible without the work of UKFG.

This was followed by a delicious Sri Lankan feast which featured many local treats together with sweet ginger tea. This epic event was attended by Mr. Gamage, the principal, teachers, and at one of the schools it seemed the whole village had turned out to greet me.

I was completely overwhelmed by everyone’s warmth and kindness and the amount of work that went into putting together our very special day. It was so much more than I could ever have expected. To everyone who helped us organise the trip, who performed, showed me around, fed me such wonderful food and made me feel so welcome, thank you! It was the best experience of my trip and something I’ll never forget.

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A VIP family from Canada visits Thumbe School

On 28th January 2015 Ms Audrey Inouye from Canada, her husband David, children  Taro, Kiyoshi and Kaito and Audrey’s mother Janet went to Thumbe School in Kamburupitiya. They were the first ever foreign visitors to this beautiful school established in 1937 . The staff, children, parents and villagers gave them a tremendous welcome. The Inouye family and all other VIPs were garlanded at the bottom of the hill was taken up to the school in a beautiful parade. The staff and children gave them a tremendous welcome and put up a cultural show where talented children in colourful costumes performed traditional dances and sang songs.

There were many speeches by the VIPs who expressed their gratitude to Inouye family and their friends in Canada who raised funds for the donations the school received. In his Thank You speech the Principal Pushparani expressed his utmost gratitude to Inouye family for the amazing presents the school had just received. She also thanked Mr Devsiri Mr Gamage and UKFG for their continuing support for the school .

Taro, Kiyosha and Kaito then donated a pair of brand new shoes each to all the 150 children at the school. They were also given pens and pencils. It was also the birthday of UKFG Lanka Chairman Sirisena Gamge. Amid the singing of Happy Birthday by all the children Mr Gamge cut open the birthday cake the school has specially baked for him. At the end of the five hour ceremony where the guests were entertained by cultural dances, singsongs and speeches ceremony, all the children were treated to Ice Cream from the funds donated by Devsiri’s two sons Deshan and Dinum.

You can read about this visit from the Inouye family’s perspective on their blog here

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Opening of Neil Carson Library at Ulalla School Kamburupitiya

On 28th July 2014 Devsiri and family ceremonially handed over the newly built Carson Library to Children at Ulllala School Kamburupitiya. Carson library was a wonderful gift for the school and the Ullala village from Mr Neil Carson the Chief Executive of Johnson Matthey in London

The Carson library , the biggest school library in the area was built in a remarkable short time of 5 weeks, under the supervision of Srilanka Chairman of UKFG and Devsiri’s father-in-law, Mr Sirisena Gamage, better known as Mr G.   The Carson library which cost £6000 consist of brand new tables, chairs , book cupboards , ceiling fans and a Mable floor and nearly 500 new text books all paid for by Mr Carson.

Three years ago Mr Carson and family donated a similar library to Ratanapala school at Kamburupitiya and this second new library is a testament to Carson family’s continuing generosity for the children in the town. The parents and children are eternally grateful to them .

Dinum Hewavidana, 10, ceremoniously cut the ribbon and opened the library on behalf of Neil Carson family.

After the opening , there was three hours of beautiful singsongs and colorful dances by delightful children and speeches were made by a few local politicians. The School Principal Mr Arunage and all the speakers expressed their utmost gratitude to Mr Neil Carson for presenting the school with a much needed library. They have made an open invitation to the Carson family to visit Srilanka and their school.

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Annual donation of the new uniforms and pairs of shoes for Massmulle school children

On 24th January 2014, on behalf of Nicky Pharoah and her husband Colin Newbold , UKFG Srilanka chairman Sirisena Gamage and Devsiri’s  cousins Ananda & Dharmadasa Hewavidana presented every children new school uniforms and a pair of shoes, 5 pair of socks and panties each.  .The principals of neighbouring school ,hundreds of parents and many villagers were also present . The VIPS were greeted at the gate by the  school band (All band equipment and uniforms were donated by Nicky Pharoah two years before ) and taken them to the ceremony in a beautiful parade

The children whose parents wont even earn £10 a week were delighted to receive brand new pairs of socks, shoes and uniforms that cost more than £25 each.  The children performed beautiful cultural dances and singsongs on the stage Nicky Pharoah herself had  donated four  years previously . In his speech Mr Sirisena Gamage, UKFG Chairman thanked  Nicky, Colin and The Learning curve for the wonderful  gifts and expressed children and their parents gratitude to them

The enclosed photos of smiling children at Massmulle School  show how delighted they were to receive the gifts

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