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

No comments: