Saturday, 17 May 2008

Community Centre Opens at OI Sri Lanka - 1000+ Attend!

Below is a complete copy of today's newsletter by OIWW ( )

Community Center Opens at OI Sri Lanka – 1,000+ Attend!
More than 1,000 guests – including over 400 children – turned out for the May 2 Opening of the Kathaluwa Life Skills & Educational Centre.
Ribbon cutting ceremonies were held at both of the campuses’ two buildings, the Centre and Holland House Pre-School.
The ceremony was MC’d in flawless English by our students of the Centre who have only studied the language since December, under the excellent tutelage of Mrs. Vasanthy Manickam.
Each of the Kathaluwa Group leaders spoke, children of all ages presented song and dance, Jim Luce and John Lee spoke – John stopping the crowd with his entire presentation in Sinhala (“Sri Lankan”) – and Dutch volunteers joined the children in the finale, dancing to OI’s traditional “We Are The World.”
The Centre was built with funds contributed by Giorgio Armani and Donna Karan. The Kathaluwa Group leadership includes Ms. Sumi Moonesinghe, Ms. Sharmini Mathew, and Mr. Maithri Gunathratne.
The Centre, opened since September 2007, supports 350 village children impacted by the Tsunami who are in Family Care. Their extended families receive a monthly stipend for their education and nutrition, and half the funds will be available as micro-loans when they graduate.
The Centre boasts a computer lab, sewing machine training, and English instruction. It will soon have a health clinic and vocational training program for the hospitality industry so important to this island nation off the coast of India.
OI Global Officer Indika Bandera and local director Buddika Bandera helped enormously to make the Opening happen.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Orphans International Org Sri Lanka

Sunday April 6, Athens, Greece (6am, early coffee)

With my first coffee and my first cigarette, I checked my mails, but one was very important. Important not for my life but for the lives of people in Southern Sri Lankan region that have suffered so much from the tsunami in 2006, and mostly important, for the children who, like any children anywhere on this planet, are hungry for a smile and for a hope.

I didn't ask permition to publish this letter I received from the executive director of Orphans Internation America, Ms Linda Stanley, because some decisions in our life have to be instant and cannot wait one second.

Visit also Kathaluwa group on Facebook

George Karahalios

Below is a complete copy of it:

Hello George,

Here's an update on our part of the work at Kathaluwa. The kids expectations have been really high since we first appeared on the scene, so I feel like we are always running behind to meet their needs. We are a very small organization, really. We exist thru volunteers. I, myself, am a volunteer.

1. We have started monthy payments directly to 42 children's families (the most in need, chosen by Ms. Mathew's group ) These kids live with extended family members, (the Sri Lankan authorities would not allow an overnight, 24 hour care traditional we adapted) A portion of money is also being deposited for each child's education beyond high school.

2.We have the Kathaluwa kids on our new web site... just click "sponsor a child", then choose Sri Lanka, and the children's faces appear
We need $50. a month sponsors for every child...because we are, actually NOW PAYING, from our general fundraising. If your friends could help us get sponsors for these kids, we could move on, financially, to their other pressing needs.

3. We have received, from a NY donor, a complete Leap Frog English learning system which is now in the Education center. Volunteers who go to Kathaluwa to teach English will have this valuable computer based teaching aide to help them teach. However, we need chairs, tables, library shelves and books. The Learning center is still, essentially, bare.

4. Orphans International Sri Lanka is also now paying for a second English teacher. As you recall, this center supports over 300 kids, so the classes were hugh!

5. OI Sri Lanka is now supplying active, teaching volunteers to the center. In April a NY volunteer, at her own expense, took a 10 day "vacation", carried 4 computers, and started the computer lab at the center!!! She taught for 7 days, with translating and teaching help from our local staff people. We now need many more computers, because all the kids want these classes. And we need proper computer desks, fans and air conditioners.

6. Beginning in May, Oi Sri Lanka will house 8 volunteers from the US, teaching for 3 months at our office/home (in bunk beds...a tight fit) They will visit the 42 childrens homes, teach classes for all 300 children (as assistants to the centers' head teacher) and assist in many ways to make the dream a reality in Kathaluwa. Again, all volunteers pay all of their own expenses, we are only providing room and food.

I would like nothing better than to wake up and have all the Kathaluwa kids sponsored for $50. a month, automatically, thru our new Charity Help payment system. This system allows for e-mail correspondence between sponsor and child...but not directly. The e-mail comes to our project director, who prints it out and delivers it to the child. Then the child can write a response, pictures can be taken, other photos showing the childs' school progress can be shared...but all thru the director...who wil send the response back to the donor. This is the safest way, to be cautious, these days. The kids have already made some amazing pictures to share thru e-mail with their NY Pen Pals at our local school.
The $50. a month is in U S dollars, a shrinking value in an inflationary economy...
Thank you for your attention to our work.

Linda Stanley
Executive Director
Orphans International America

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Xmas Party at Kathaluwa

Dec 27, 2007, Kathaluwa Education & Life Skills Centre

My dear Friends

We gave a Christmas Party for the 133 poor children learning english
at the Centre.

It was the first time many of them had been to a party.

Well wishers provided them with gifts.

The children recieved a pair of school shoes each

A school bag with a school pack of books , pens, pencils, crayons
and a pencil box.

They also had short eats prepared by South Point Villas
(Cake, curry puffs, cutlets, marshmellows, biscuits and a fruit drink)

It was wonderful to hear the children sing, give speeches in english and
speak so well.

It made us happy to see the progress the children had made from
having no knowledge to what they can do now.

All this progress from 15th September to 21st December.
It was a heartwarming experience
Here are some pics taken at the Christmas party, the children all look
great and happy and thrilled at what they got.

Regards,Sharmini Mathew

Saturday, 8 December 2007


Kathaluwa Education & Life Skills Centre, Southern Sri Lanka

Athens, Greece, Dec 8, 2007

Yesterday I managed to install a paypal software so that supporters of Kathaluwa Initiative can donate a dollar or a euro, something that wasn't possible before because of the high bank charges.

To know more about this humanitarian project in the Southern Sri Lankan village of Kathaluwa, please visit the website

Also you can join the facebook group for being updated

If you want to donate just send an email here:
We will send you a paypal request to your inbox and you can donate anything you feel appropriate. Don't be shy; We cannot trace what you donated and we will never use your email for any silly commercial things.

Your help can also be by sending us your ideas on how to better help these people, your expertise, inviting your friends to facebook group Kathaluwa, post to a blog or forum, write an article about us etc etc
Or even just sending us a note to refresh our energy!. All these are forms of help. We need your help!

Sunday, 2 December 2007


Great news will be announced officially by the end of the coming week after my talks with Andy Steel, founder of PATT Foundation ( Plant A Tree Today).

Through this strategic alliance with PATT Foundation, and together with Orphans International Worldwide, we shall strengthen the sustainability of all projects related to Kathaluwa, for children and adults.

And because Greece suffered a terrible disaster this past summer from fires in the bith region of all sides of my family, I am also into talks with the Greek government in order to officially invite Andy Steel in Greece to gain his insights and experience in reforrestation projects of large scale.

I must not though forget the great contribution and support of Patrick Farren who introduced me to Andy a while ago and who has helped me so much in developing the Kathaluwa initiative.

Anyone who would like to help us please email us at:

Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Education and Life Skills Centre at Kathaluwa, Sri Lanka

Originally posted on facebook's group 'Kathaluwa' on Oct.27, 2007
By Mrs Sharmini Mathew

Kathaluwa is a tiny sleepy little seaside fishing village where fishermen survive by taking their boats to sea during season. During monsoons they cannot cross the reef out to sea as waves are big and dangerous. They survive by whatever they get from casting nets within the reef lagoon where the sea is calm.The six months they have no work is extremely difficult for them financially.

We have done whatever we can to lift up the community after the tsunami which effected families on beaches not protected by coral reefs. Many of the families are still traumatised. We have given men fishing boats with 15 hp engines, fishing equipment and gear, casting nets, diving equipment, nets and fishing rods, provided alternate employment by helping them open grocery shops, farms, mechanical garages, communication centres, eating houses, cobbler shops and tailoring establishments, cement block making units etc etc

And given women in the area means of supplementing family incomes by providing them with skills and machinary such as lace making machines, coir making machines, sewing machines, helped them to start small cottage industries to make sweet meats and catering orders, to name just a few.

Now that the centre is almost ready, the parents of children begged me to start classes so that children could start learning english. To please the lady who teaches english to children very kindly agreed to start teaching at the centre.The day it was announced we would start with a very soft opening, 5 children were waiting for her from early morning before the doors were opened.

Two days later there were fifty children and now we have 73 children. We cannot take anymore as we do not have sufficient desks.The teacher works for 8 hours each day, six days a week to teach these children in several classes as the children are graded according to their ability.It is wonderful to see how enthusiastic they are.

I need to find funds for teachers . Basically I need to pay approx USD 190/-per teacher as they spend the whole day at the centre, teaching. Many school leavers and adults too have taken advantage of out classes.I am so grateful that George has kindly set up Kathaluwa facebook group to help me. I do get help from South Point Villas which helps me maintain the buildings, which is very costly.

The Education and Life Skills Centre at Kathaluwa is over 6000 sq.feet, has two large classrooms and two lecture rooms which can be used to teach other skills. Rooms to teach domestic sciences to women who will be taught sewing, cooking, first aid and hygiene practices when we have the funds to furnish the rooms and pay the teachers who will train students in such skills.

The sewing section will teach professional sewing, training in the use of Juki machines so that women can be gainfully employed in factories in the FTZ close by. In fact, one factory has promised to employ all the young women trained by us.The Cretche and pre school which is being constructed by our dutch friends will help women to keep their children in a safe place providing a basic education and good hygiene practice till they return from their workplaces.

We are looking for volunteers who would like to combine social work with a holiday. All activities in the centre will be strictly in accordance with existing Child Protection Laws of the country and will be monitored to make sure that children will be cared for and protected at all times.

Thank you once again for your support

Sharmini Mathew

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Facebook Group now open

Two days ago, November 26th, I decided to open the facebook group Kathaluwa in order to attract more attentions and more members.

The group had managed to obtain 150 members from direct friends and friends of friends.

This morning we have 264 members. This happened because the first 150 members had the chance to invite some of their friends & online connections on facebook.

Members have been asked to donate 2 US dollars per week and engage in helping the lives of children and adults in this area of Sri Lanka.

Reaction has been hectic from most members, but not all. It will take a while as results appear and become facts.

But money is not the only way to help this project. A fine example is an artist from Croatia, Vlado Franjevic. He is based in Liechtenstein and offered me some of his paintings to be used as logos or as e-cards or for any other commercial application for fund raising.

Vlado's unique painting called 'STAY WITH ME' has already attracted the attention of many members as a masterpiece, which I made it to be the project's main logo.

Even just being a member, a name in the drop-down member's menu in this group encourages me and others to keep our hope alive.

Many friends ask me why I do this. I tell them that I am not mother Teresa and never thought to compete with her :)) I'm a business person and invest my time wherever I feel there is future. And while business is commonly known to involve only in money-producing projects, for me this initiative is like a gym for the soul, so that I can draw energy and faith for the rest of my money discoveries.

I have discovered new friends through their reactions into this initiative. I have also discovered pretenders and hypocrits. Even enemies. All in a box :)

Another example is Allan Cockerill, a family man who writes about networking, movies, reviews etc. Allan helps me by writting in several blogs and media about Kathaluwa initiative and I regard him as a great supporter.

Another friend of friend in Athens, Greece, Eileen Botsford, offered to help by designing and hosting the website .

John Lee, right-hand officer of Jim Luce's Orphans International sent me some new fotos from his visit to Kathaluwa Learning Centre. John is back and forth in Sri Lanka during the past one year for the local operations of OIWW and now has bridged our initiative with this great NGO.
You can spot John in the photo playing spinwheel with the children and teaching them art lessons.
Another great supporter is Diogenis Venetopoulos, an offspring of a family who established cruises in Greece in early 50's. We are now considering to offer our members cruises in Greece and in the Red Sea and if they book through my companies, not only they will get a good discount, but a small percentage from the profit to go to Kathaluwa project.
For this you may visit either my relevant group on facebook 'Cruises in Greece' and follow posted instructions.
As Jim Luce says in his recent article published in the NY Times, I will do anything to help these children.

That's all for today folks !!
Thank you for visiting this poor blog and for reading this poor article.
If you would like to involve with any means, please contact me through facebook and I will be very happy to talk with you.
George Karahalios