The staff of Rose Charities Srilanka has just come off a very big weekend!

On Saturday October 27th, we hosted a grand educational enrichment seminar in Vellavely, on a scale such as we have never before attempted. Over a thousand students gathered at the Auditorium of Vellavely Kalai-Magal Vidyalayam for a day-long series of seminars aimed at preparing them for December’s GCE O-level examinations.

Saturday’s event was the culmination of an enrichment program that Rose Srilanka had conducted over the past six months in the villages of Vellavely in Batticaloa district. These Enrichment Classes brought local educators to students in remote and poverty-stricken villages who would not otherwise have an opportunity for extra help with their studies and exam preparation. Saturday’s event differed in that it brought a team of 28 educational experts and professionals all the way from Colombo. For this, Rose Charities Srilanka must give heartfelt thanks to a longtime friend and supporter of Rose Srilanka, Dr. Yogaraja of Loyal Publications in Colombo, who introduced Rose Srilanka to this incredible team.

With the support of the Zonal and Divisional Education officers and school principals, 1600 students from 30 schools were invited to this event. These schools are in areas that have been severely affected by war and poverty and where students have no access to tutors or afterschool programs.

Rose Charities staff worked tirelessly for a week leading up to the event, transporting and setting chairs, preparing packages of pens and paper for each student, and resources for the educational team. When the big day came, we were ready. Early Saturday morning, over a thousand students began making their way from all over the Pattiruppu education zone. There is no public transportation available in this area, so most students had to make their own way to the venue. Some of the more distant schools arranged buses, but most arrived by bicycle.

The education team, led by Mr. Velayuthan Thevasenathipathy, Attorney at Law, put on a series of intensive seminars covering Math, Science, History and Tamil subjects. In addition to receiving pens, paper, and a file folder, each student received a booklet containing an O-level study guide and sample questions. These booklets were generously donated by Mr. Thevasenathipathy. The lecturers put on lively and engaging seminars with quiz-games and prizes, and had students laughing, clapping and having a great time. Feedback provided by students after the event was overwhelmingly positive. In fact, after a full day of lectures, many students didn’t want to leave and asked the team if they could stay on for another day! Mr. Thevasenathipathy remarked that in his 35-years’ experience participating in education seminars, he has never had such a terrific experience as this. We at Rose Srilanka feel the same way. Saturday’s event was without a doubt the most exciting, gratifying and successful event we have ever been a part of! We must give thanks and congratulations to Mr. Thevasenathipathy and his team, whose contribution went beyond all expectations. We are so happy to have begun this exciting new partnership and look forward to collaborating on new projects in the future.

And so, at the end of a long and exhausting day, the staff of Rose Charities Srilanka left Vellavely filled with happiness and could look forward to a well-earned day of rest. Next week we move forward, looking ahead to continue the projects with high hope of even further successes.

K2K or JET Educational Scholarship Program!

As the 2012 school year enters its final months, it’s time for Rose Charities Sri Lanka to begin implementing its K2K (Kid to Kid) or JET Scholarship Program for the 2013 school year. So far, 16 students from the Natpiddimunai, Annamalai, and Pandirupu areas have been identified as needing special help and support. These 16 students, ages 6-15, come from families which have been severely affected by tsunami, war, or other hardships. All are missing at least one parent, and all face great obstacles to receiving the basic necessity of a proper education.

Rose Charities has worked with community support workers, local public school administrators, and the divisional secretary’s office to identify those children with the greatest need. After background checks and verification was conducted by RCSL, 16 students and their families were brought together for a meeting on August 30th with Rose Charities Sri Lanka CEO Anthony Richard and Rose staff who implement this program. Each of these 16 students will receive continued financial and material support provided by generous overseas donors participating in the K2K program. Initially, this will include a school supply package consisting of pens, pencils, a geometry set, textbooks and exercise books, and a backpack. In addition, an educational savings account has been opened for eight of the older students with an initial deposit.

CEO Anthony Richard talked with the families about the importance of saving for a child’s educational future and of the great empowerment and success that can be attained with a quality education. He also stressed accountability for both students and parents in keeping Rose Charities up-to-date so that it can provide continued support, and in ensuring that the funds donated to the K2K program are making a real and lasting impact on children’s lives.

More information on the K2K program can be found here: http://roseeducation.wordpress.com/k2k/
We wish these students the best of luck as they enter the 2013 school year, and we look forward to many future successes!

Disaster hits Domino’s Early Childhood Education Centre/English Language Institute in Kalmunai.

1st of September, 2012 was a usual Saturday for the residents of Kalmunai and surrounding areas. Next Monday the schools were going to be opened for the third term activities. The kids were getting ready to go to school. The staff and the Preschool teachers of Rose Charities Srilanka also were prepping to receive the Preschoolers for the third term of the year.

Without a warning, out of the blue a mini cyclone has whacked the area and destructed everything on its trail. The area was crushed by the accompanied whirlwind and heavy rain with thunder and lightning for a short period of time.

The Kalyani Hall aka English Language Institute in Kalmunai was one of the buildings partially destroyed by this mayhem. Kalyani Hall is famous in this area since it is not only the main auditorium to host all the events, meetings and cultural and educational functions of Rose Charities Srilanka but also houses the Domino’s Early Childhood Education Centre, the flagship Preschool of Rose Preschools. The roof of the building was torn apart and the fences were toppled. The debris resulted by the destruction made the regular school activities impossible in the grounds.

For the last couple of months because of the drought prevailed in the country a continuous power outage was imposed in the area for an average of five to six hours daily. This also disrupted the internet access and communications in the area.

Rose Charities Srilanka has postponed the reopening of Domino’s Preschool to 10th of August until the Preschool will be successfully relocated to a new place which will be safe and comfortable for the preschool kids.

The Staff of Rose Charities Srilanka are functioning in full throttle to not only relocate the preschool but also move the rest of the furniture and stuff out of the destroyed building before the next thunderstorm. The books, furniture and other teaching related materials are being shifted to a temporary shelter.

K2K ~ Kid To Kid Program of Rose Charities Srilanka; A Photo Album.

K2K Program
(Thank You William Grut)
Since 2009 Rose Charities Srilanka received a load of requests for help from poor families. About 41 kids from 18 families receive help under this project. Aside from these children 27 students from Mandur 40th Colony Government Tamil Mixed School and 22 students from Kalumunthanvely Government Tamil Mixed School also receive this assistance.

Rose Preschool Day Celebrations!

The kids from the Upper Kindergarten class of all the Rose Preschools performed and showed their talents in front of a big crowd of guests, parents and spectators. Speeches, singing songs, dancing and reciting poem were the highlights of the events.

The Canada Day Celebrations!

The foremost highlight of the occasion was the cake cutting by the Chief Guest to mark the 145th birth day of Canada. Children waved the Canadian Flags and the National Anthem of Canada played in the background made the day glinting.

Sunday, 1st of July 2012…… the day has been a double treat for the staff of Rose Charities Srilanka and kids of all Rose Preschools!

The Canada Day and the Rose Preschool Day were both celebrated on the same day.

Preschool Day and Canada Day celebrations are held every year by the members of Rose Charities Srilanka. Kids always look forward to rejoice these events by cutting cake in order to party the birth day of Canada and doing cultural performance to have fun.

This year Mr. N. Nagarajah, Co-ordinator for Rose Preschools has presided the function with Fahad Arshad Yasin of Education Generation, Vancouver Canada being the Chief Guest. Assistant Director of Education (Early Childhood Care and Education) for Pattiruppu Education Zone Mr.N.Puvanasundaram, Mr.N.Parasuraman – Administrative Officer, Mr.S.Rajeeshan – Programme Coordinator, Mr.N.Raveendran, Mr.M.Somasundaram and Board of Directors of Rose Charities Srilanka were the Guests for that day.

The events commenced with the welcoming, lightening of the traditional lamp and prayers by the kids of Rose Preschools.

Health and Nutrition Program – January to April 2012

In January, Rose Charities Sri Lanka conducted the first of two Health and Nutrition Programs planned for this year. This program involved over 150 children and 100 parents from Rose Mother and Baby Groups and Preschools in Porathivupattu Division, making it one of the single largest and most ambitious ECCD events that Rose has ever staged. The Office of the Divisional Secretary of Porathivupattu hosted the event and it proved to be the perfect setting for the course of cultural events and festivities which lasted all day and well into the evening.

The day’s entertainment was designed to teach the children basic lessons about proper nutrition. It is customary in Sri Lanka for guests at formal functions to be welcomed by their hosts with a garland of flowers and early in life children become adept at producing garlands and presenting them to adults. At the Health and Nutrition Program, however, this custom was reversed and each child had a garland of flowers placed around his or her neck as part of the celebration. The main event was a large ‘dinner party’ for the assembled children in which they served themselves and ate entirely without assistance. This ability is a good indicator of the development of fine motor skills and, given that many of those present were under the age of three, the results were surprisingly good.

There was also a Rose-sponsored book exhibition for the preschoolers and books specially-designed for children aged 4 and 5 were distributed free of charge to very attendee. Rose charities also includes small lending libraries within every village Children’s Club and it is hoped that these measures will encourage an enduring love of reading in a population for whom books are difficult to obtain.

After sundown, the children were treated to a fireworks display sponsored by Rose Charities. Most of these children had never seen fireworks before and gazed up in wonder as multi-coloured explosions illuminated the night sky. It was a lovely spectacle and a fitting end to a long and festive day.

Awareness Programs – January to April 2012

If one visits an elementary school anywhere in the rural areas between Ampara and Batticaloa Districts, one is first of all struck by the amicability and high spirits of the students. Every class welcomes visitors with a cheerful “Good morning, sir!” delivered in unison, while the more self-confident students, invariably grinning, prefer to greet strangers with a loud “Hi, how are you?” Looking past the unaffected good nature of the children, however, one sees in every classroom and hallway, and on the exterior of every school building, poignant reminders of the terrible social problems in these communities and the dangers which many young people face within their own homes. Hand-drawn posters and large painted murals – simple and forceful, they are unmistakably the work of children – depict club-wielding men standing over their wives and children. Others show groups of men, either clambering up cocoanut trees or just sitting dully around a bottle. On top of the wholesale destruction caused by natural disasters and civil war, many communities in eastern Sri Lanka are currently being devastated by endemic rates of alcoholism, domestic violence, and child abuse.

Rape and violence against women are almost never reported to the police in these areas and only the most horrific incidents receive any notice outside of the villages in which they actually occur. There is, however, sufficient evidence to show how widespread these problems are and what a paralyzing effect they have on village life and hopes for development. On April 3rd, at the Rose office in Kalmunai city, there was a graduation ceremony for young women who had recently completed a three month vocational training course in shoe-making. These women are all between the ages of 18 and 26 and live in the isolated, rural community of Selvapuram. They brought with them a large collection of beautifully-made ladies’ sandals, in a variety of attractive styles, which they had produced during the course of the program. After the ceremony was concluded, the graduates all registered with Rose Microcredit but, when the group was asked whether they would like to begin taking loans in order to start their own shoe-making business, fewer than half of the young women expressed a desire to do so. When pressed, they explained to us that in their community it is simply not safe for a young woman to walk the country roads alone and none of them have access to any form of transportation which can convey them safely to and from their homes and wherever the shoe-making would take place. Without basic security in their community, it is difficult for these young women to even leave their homes unescorted and absolutely impossible for them to improve their livelihoods through entrepreneurship.

Rose Charities Sri Lanka has committed itself to addressing the root causes of this intolerable state of affairs and, working closely with the Assistant Superintendant of Police for Vellavely and Kaluwanchikudy Divisions, the Divisional Secretary’s Office, and the regional Office of the Ministry of Health, Rose has formulated a model Awareness Program which has been staged twice so far this year.

The first Awareness program was held in Kovilporathivu D.S. Division and approximately 90 local people, including widows and young women as well as men, participated. The second was held at Sinnawattai. This was a special program and over 350 people were in attendance. In one of the most moving parts of the day, young children took the stage and read short testimonials which they had prepared about how alcohol affected their home lives. One can only imagine how a father might feel, sitting in the audience, when his son or daughter tells the assembled crowd that it is impossible to study at home in the evenings when their father comes home drunk. During the course of the event a considerable number of families were identified as being involved in producing homemade alcohol. Many of these came forward voluntarily and asked for outreach and assistance in order to be able to abandon this business.

There was also a mobile health service camp set up outside of the meeting which offered dental cleanings, eye tests, and a medical clinic for people who cannot access these services normally.

We are very proud to be working closely with the Police Force to try and improve the security situation in rural villages. The police, more often than not, do not have the resources necessary to adequately patrol rural area and the people have no confidence in the police because they are unable to enforce the law in their communities. Compounding this problem is the fact that there is a language barrier between the Sinhalese police officers and the Tamil civilians whom they protect. The Community Policing model is, however, being introduced into this area under the direction of the Assistant Superintendant of Police and the trust which Rose Sri Lanka has earned during eight years of work in this area is considered an important asset in helping restore the people’s faith in the police. This is a vital step in the reconciliation process. On Monday, April 16th, the national, Tamil language newspaper Virakesari carried a story about these Awareness Programs in which a police spokesman formally thanked Rose Charities for the valuable assistance we have given them in combating alcoholism and violence in rural communities.
There are four more Awareness programs scheduled for the coming months.

Mother and Child Programs – January to April 2012

Since the beginning of 2012, four separate Mother and Child Programs have been conducted by Rose Charities Sri Lanka. In order to address the most marginalized communities in the Eastern Province, Rose Charities has extended its operations northward, into the Porathivupattu D.S. Division which comprises the border areas between Ampara and Batticaloa Districts. Government services in these areas are almost nonexistent and Rose Charities has been working closely with the Office of the Divisional Secretary and the Office of the District Health Officer to ensure that the young and expectant mothers in these villages have the tools and knowledge which they need to improve the health and nutrition of their infants.

The first meeting of the year was held in January in the village of Sinnawattai. Over one hundred women were in attendance, many of them accompanied by their young children. There were a large number of widows in the audience. Sinnawattai has a mixed Sinhalese and Tamil population and both communities participated equally in the day’s program. There has been little reconciliation between the Sinhalese and Tamils following the conclusion of the Sri Lankan Civil War but hopeful signs are emerging. At this meeting, one of the women present asked for an English language preschool to be established in the village so that children from both lingual groups could “learn together.”

In February, the second meeting of the year was held in Ganeshapuram. This meeting drew together mothers from two separate villages; Ganeshapuram and the 14th Village. During the colonial period the British established new villages, or ‘colonies’ throughout this area and these were given numbers instead of names. Over time, most of these communities have discarded their numerical designations but some of the most rural communities still retain their same old number. These are generally the most isolated and impoverished communities in a given area and, therefore, the ones most in need of assistance. In April, The Mother and Child Program moved to the village of Mavetkudah, a very poor village which is situated within a reasonably well-developed area. There were 90 women present.

The most recent program was held at the beginning of April in Vivekanandapuram, another of the border communities. 95 women came from the surrounding area and the program was similar to what had been offered at previous events. First, Mr. N. Parasuraman, the Administrative Officer of Rose Charities Sri Lanka and a retired nursing officer, spoke to the women about the value of Early Childhood Education and the responsibilities of parenthood. The other speakers included the District Medical Office, the Divisional Secretary, and a senior Nursing Sister. The Health Officer informed the women about infectious diseases affecting small children and how to prevent them. Dengue fever is a serious hazard in this part of the country, particularly during the rainy season. He then spoke about the necessary course of vaccinations which every child needs to begin soon after being born. He also spoke about the dangers posed by dysentery and explained some simple remedies for dehydration, like young cocoanut, which can be given to a child suffering from diarrhea.

The Nursing Sister moderated a lively discussion among the women about breastfeeding and added a great deal of advice of her own about the correct feeding position, how to hold the child, how to get infants to latch on and other common problems. She also outlined the science of brain development in young children and the importance of breast milk as a source of nutrients for children at this formative stage of life. She frequently used simple call-an-response exercises to emphasize important points and questions from the audience were encouraged throughout.

Following this discussion, another doctor took the floor and expanded upon some of the issues raised so far and also gave important information to the women about their own health and how to ensure that they are physically well enough to conceive. He spoke about the complications which arise when women have babies too early or too frequently. The Divisional Secretary closed the meeting with a few remarks of his own to the assembled women.

This village, like the rest of Sri Lanka, is suffering badly from the daily increase in the cost of basic necessities. One woman reported that now she is cooking only a half kilo of rice for her family’s evening meal as opposed to the whole kilo which she used to be able to afford. This village produces an abundance of nutritious produce, including maize and vegetables, but these are all sent to the market and some of the profits from their sale used to buy cheaper food from the city. The village is, in fact, exporting nutritious food and importing inferior stuff. The women were advised to hold back some of their own produce to feed to their families.

All of the women and children who attend these events are given a nutritious snack and a high-protein drink. In addition, they receive some kind of useful gift, like an umbrella, a child’s mosquito net, or a set of bed sheets. In the coming months, 6 more workshops like these are already being planned in order to continue raising awareness about health and nutrition in the more impoverished villages of the area.