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