Rose News for ‘Sri Lanka’ Category
Rose Charities International Network:
2014 End of Year Review.
2014 for Rose Charities has been marked both by consolidation in which the well established projects have steadily moved forwards with new initiatives, plans and their implementation, and a considerable delivery of emergency relief for the Philippines. The moves towards increased self sustainability have made progress in a number of areas, notably with the Sri Lanka Medicare program including now a specialised Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) Centre, Cambodia, where Drs Vra and Natalia Heng’s Rose Charities Eye Centre now operates also from their newly built clinic and caters for both the paying, to cover costs, and the poor. Projecto San Gerado Costa Rica’s community programs incorporating tourist and local produce are, now as part of Rose Charities Canada an impressive example of what can be achieved.
Sri Lanka was very active in 2014, continuing to lead the way in microcredit initiatives. It has had to reduce its preschool program due to lack of funding but still manages to run the new cut-down program in this hugely essential area. ( www.rosesrilanka.info )
Rose Charities Sri Lanka wonderfully hosted the 2014 Rose VI International Conference which was a huge success allowing international delegates (UK, Canada, USA, NZ, Cambodia, Japan) and Sri Lanka guests to network, discuss and witness the excellent programs in their area. In addition many of the children in the area worked hard to give delegates marvellous entertainment of dancing and singing which was hugely appreciated by all.
2014 was actually the 10th year after the terrible Asian tsunami of 2004 and it is a true tribute to the energy, charity and dedication of Anthony Richard and his team that so much has been achieved in that time. Over these years, programs have included child and adult health care, post traumatic child counselling, sports for peace and education for all ages, from pre-school to higher education. Poverty reduction through micro-credit and vocational training are now noteworthy as well as special development programs for women.
One of the most notable achievements of 2014 was the re-birth of the Rose Cambodia Rehab Centre (RCRC) ( www.roserehab.org ) which was in final stages of closure though lack of funds. This was also one of the major successes of the Sri Lanka Rose VI conference when Ms Sophak Chim (RCRC Cambodia) discussed issues with a very supportive Rose Charities USA team (Rachel Greene, Arnold Sanchez, Dianne Johnston). Ms Sophak showed that despite the difficulties of physiotherapy being well accepted in Cambodia, the demand for the clinic’s services were on the increase. Rose USA agreed to continue and expand support assisted by Canada and the UK. Previously the main support had come from Rose Australia (the main original founder of RCRC) but this organisation has had to go into a reorganisation phase (possibly with a view to disbanding) due to lack of funding and director base. RCRC has now continued to be successful under new Director Ms Chhouen Putheary. (Ms Sophak continues to advise),
Informal linkage of RCRC with Professor Nous Saroms’s Rehabilitation Surgery department in the PPSC medical centre ( www.cambodiasurgery.info ) continues both in cross-referrals and consultations. In addition PPSC takes many elective medical students who often write to Rose Charities asking for placements.
The Hillman Fund of Rose Charities Canada has also continued its support for physiotherapy treatment and training in Cambodia through assistance to the Cambodia Physical Therapy Association (CPTA) , as well as assisting in eye surgeon training at the Rose Eye Clinic. ( www.rose-eye.info ) . The Eye clinic has now treated some two hundred thousand patients which will rise to close to a quarter of a million within the next year and a half. It carries out both treatment and training and runs a peripheral outreach program. It is amazing to see where this project has gone from both its origin in 1997 as well as its disaster of 2003 when it was 99% looted of all equipment and gutted by thieves. A huge amount of success has been due to the input and assistance, material, teaching, and consultative assistance of Rose Charities New Zealand, ( www.rose-charities.org ) notably Mike Webber and John Veale. Also of great assistance in the development of the clinic and earlier outreach program(s) with IRIS Cambodia (founded by same founder(s) of Rose ) has been Dr Basant Raj Sharma. ‘Basant’ has taken the past few years to open now his own surgical eye clinic in South Nepal which will include a charity treatment component. Rose NZ will be assisting with this program.
Rose Charities Malaysia ( www.myrosecharity.org ) and Rose Charities Singapore ( www.rosesingapore.info ) have continued their impressive programs of local assistance with health clinics, assisting seniors and children’s programs and delivering health services (Rose Malaysia ) to the indigenous ‘Orang Asli’ people in rural areas. Both organisations set wonderful examples of organisations very well integrated to directly helping those in need in their own regions and have impressive memberships of many volunteers prepared to give their time and efforts for others. Rose Charities in Vietnam with its outstanding history of aid programs both with community development and blind home assistance in the Hue area and orphanage support through Rose Charities UK ( www.rosecharities.org.uk ). Rose Vietnam is currently undergoing restructuring but has potential to carry on its work into the future.
The typhoon Haiyan disaster, although in Nov 2013, carried on its effects into 2014 as did Rose Charities efforts to provide assistance. This was achieved on a considerable scale for Rose Charities with direct assistance (medical team lead by Dr Collin Yong in Negros), and indirect though support to partners such as AMDA medical team(s). All phases of the disaster were assisted from immediate health issues through provision of emergency water purification and solar lighting. The work also included rebuilding the health clinic, the walkway access and a number of fishing boats. The island of Negros, Cebu and Leyete were assisted and this has continued to the present time now with support for a newly designed, typhoon-proof home building program with the ‘Movement for Liveable Cebu’ organisation. These homes have now proved their worth by withstanding the much more recent typhoon Haguput. To support this work considerable funds were raised in Vancouver and Richmond working in conjunction with several groups and charitable individuals, one of the most noteworthy being Mr Alan Yong, cousin of Dr Collin Yong.
While Rose Charities is not primarily an emergency relief organisation we have nevertheless been able to provide considerable assistance over the years during major catastrophes, invariably working on advice and in conjunction with local groups on the ground who have requested assistance. With no budget for advertising and promotion it is probable that well over a million dollars has been raised for the disasters we have been involved with, but more importantly, programs continue to this day in Haiti (sports and community assistance) Tohoku (Japan) (AMDA Health Clinic) and, Sri Lanka (see above) and (as mentioned above) the Philippines. What is more, these assistance programs have been invariably without large, expensive infrastructure and working at grassroots level with virtually all donated funds being spent on crucial basic needs.
One area which illustrates this approach is Rose’s assistance to the current ‘Ebola’ crisis. While the current epidemic is in West Africa the disease is endemic in other parts of Africa and has the potential to spread seriously. Early diagnosis, case handling and treatment is essential to increase survival chances and Rose Charities through the Hillman Fund is now supporting a Ebola health training program in Uganda together with Makere University, both in rural and urban Ugandan areas. Dr Andrew Macnab (Brighter Smiles) and the Hillman Fund, with the HEADA Organisation has also initiated a schoolchild early malaria diagnosis program run by the schools themselves. Early results indicate a considerable reduction in school absentee time generated traditionally by the disease.
The problem of safe birthing and motherhood world-wide is a huge one. The want of education, hygiene, medications and trained helpers claims a heavy toll in mortality. In some countries, such as Afghanistan, a maternal and/or neonatal child death occurs every few minutes. Rose Charities Canada is focusing on this challenge with the formation of its Safe Motherhood and Birthing committee which is partly supported by the Hillman Fund and linking with Rose Charities UK ( www.rosecharities.org.uk ) . Programs now include the impressive Guatemala Safe Motherhood ( www.safemotherhoodproject.org ) training project for local Comadronas (birth attendants) founded by Annette Borkent and Dr Ruth Brighouse. There is also a joint initiative in Pakistan with the Frontier Primary Health Organization and a linked program in Afghanistan with Tabish Health and Community Organisation. In this last case recent progress has now resulted in the first two trained community nurses working in one of the main refugee and displaced persons camps near Kabul. One possible future linkage of this committee is to assist with a new RCRC (Cambodia) incipient birth assistance program.
It would be impossible to end this brief review of the Rose Charities International Network programs, without mention of one of its largest areas: education. World Rose groups support primary schools in Madagascar (Rose Madagascar), Zambia (Malambo Grassroots), Uganda (4 schools – Stand Tall Education ( www.standtalleducation.org ) , Volset, and Brighter Smiles (2), ( www.brightersmilesafrica.ca ), Guatemala (Mayan Project of Dr Ellen Coburn www.mayanproject.org ) and Sri Lanka. In addition there are child education support programs in Uganda (Smiles Uganda founded by Mr Galib Kara), Cambodia and Sri Lanka, and a pre-school program in Sri Lanka also. There is higher education support in Uganda, Zambia and Sri Lanka. In the case of Sri Lanka, these programs have produced many graduates including those in medicine, engineering and law. Advanced training programs are sponsored by the Hillman Fund in Uganda and have included ETATS (Emergency Medicine Training program) as well as advanced GP training. In Cambodia students were assisted in accountancy training and now at the Rose Charities Eye clinic there is training of eye surgeons (assisted by Rose NZ and the Hillman Fund). The full title of the Hillman Fund is the ‘Hillman Medical Education Fund’ and this indicates the importance which is put on training by this Rose group. Many special ‘Hillman scholars’ have been supported over the years for advanced and/or postgraduate training. Earlier mentioned too has been the training of midwives and birth attendants. Vocational training programs in Sri Lanka and Uganda (Brighter Smiles) have helped many to find employment in all areas and there is in-house training in the Rose Sri Lanka head office in the management of programs including micro-credit and business planning. A novel peer-to-peer training program is also supported in Uganda.
Left to the end, but perhaps the most important element of all is fund-raising. None of the spectrum of great Rose projects mentioned could exist without the funding. Once again Rose persons continue to show themselves to be stars holding a panoply of the most varied, enjoyable and energetic fund-raising initiatives. New Zealand to New York, Cambodia to Costa Rica, Uganda to Guatemala, Zambia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines -all have, and continue to hold, events and occasions to raise funds. Rose’s very close partner organisation AMDA, in conjunction with Rose, has for the last 3 years held emergency relief fundraisers in Christ Church Cathedral Vancouver bringing in incredible virtuosos from Japan to play alongside local experts. Athletes ride for funds in the international Vancouver-Whistler Granfondo bicycle race. Events have included sponsored walks in Malaysia, musical evenings in New Zealand, ‘bling’ sales in Vancouver, street hockey tournaments in New York city, a ‘Bollywood dance training and performance evening in Vancouver and sponsored scrabble evenings. Rose Charities Australia even at one stage held a paper aeroplane- making and distance flying competition (one of the events I had a great personal enjoyment in attending) . For all these initiatives and also to our accounting teams who year after year assist with the so important baseline work to keep the organizations going – Bravo !… and a huge thank you.
It is very difficult in a limited ‘thumbnail’ report to present anywhere near enough information of the scale, achievements and diversity of the full Rose network. The above is really only a glimpse over its surface. The bottom line however is that all the programs and achievement are due to one overriding factor. That is the amazing people that Rose Charities is fortunate to be associated with. The network is not a centralised unit; it is, in fact simply a vehicle to help move forward the amazing work of individuals and their own groups of project supporters. The ‘Charity Rose’ award is, every year, awarded to one recipient only. There is no mandate for the awardees to be kept within Rose Charities, yet every year to date, this happens. The reason for this is that when it comes to assessment and vote for the recipient, the achievement and dedication of Rose persons invariably are simply the most outstanding proposed within and without the organisation !
No doubt 2015 will have its ups and downs. In an increasingly wealth-polarised world, however, the need for aid and assistance will not be diminishing. Rose programs will be needed more than ever. In addition the environmental changes of global warming may sadly mean increased natural disaster frequency and severity. Rose Charities now has a track record and experience level generated over its 15 years in formal existence. We are an organisation focused on the most direct assistance we can possibly give with the absolute minimum spent on admin costs. Every time disaster strikes we see many big charity organisations taking up large tracts of expensive media coverage, and most carry out excellent (though often very expensive) programs. Yet time and again, such as in Sri Lanka, Haiti and Tohoku, a year or more after the event, the smaller, grassroots Rose supported programs remain and continue to tend to those who have been affected by the event.
The 7th Rose Charities International Meeting 2015 will be held in the Proyecto San Gerado Costa Rica program site. (March 8 – 10 2015) – see ( www.rosecharities.info/events/rose7-info-pack.zip ) As with all meetings it is a huge opportunity to witness the projects and initiatives and speak to those who run them. In addition there are often amazing presentations of local culture that the average person will simply never witness. No donor money is ever spent on these meetings (unless specifically requested for that use) and delegates all pay their own transport and accommodation. They are informal and always prove a superb forum for networking and exchange of ideas. The meetings are not restricted to Rose personnel and anyone genuinely interested is invited to attend.
Rose Charities People and Programs span many ‘New Years’ – Lunar, Khmer, Hindu, Gregorian etc. The last of these however is now. So for this Gregorian New Year 2014/2015 let me take the opportunity to say ‘Bravo’ to all and everyone, givers, receivers (invariably the same thing), whatever involvement level. Its you that makes everything happen. You are magnificent and have my unparalleled praise and unreserved thanks.
(http://www NULL.rosecharities NULL.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/me-abby-13 NULL.jpg)Will Grut MD
31 December 2014
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Sri Lanka: Young Women’s Clubs – 8 villages, Girls sports programs , Women’s University Scholarship Program, Women’s Livelihood Groups (Women’s Support and Women’s Vocational Training. www.rosesrilanka.info (http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/)
Pakistan: Frontier Primary Health Care support of Traditional Birth Attendant training program www.hmef.info (http://www NULL.hmef NULL.info/)
Cambodia: ‘Access for All’ program for disabled womens education, support and vocational training http://rosecambodia.org (http://www NULL.rosecambodia NULL.org/)
Afghanistan: Tabish-Rose Charities Training Women’s Health and Computer training program’s www.hmef.info (http://www NULL.hmef NULL.info/)
Guatemala: Safe Motherhood women’s birth attendant and women’s health programs www.safemotherhoodproject.org (http://www NULL.safemotherhoodproject NULL.org/)
Zambia: Womens income generation programs http://malambograssroots.ca (http://malambograssroots NULL.ca/)
Haiti: Women’s neonatal nursing training www.rosehaiti.info (http://www NULL.rosehaiti NULL.info/)
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|World Birth aid pack
saves countless lives
We also wish to laud the women’s programs Rose has been privileged to have supported, partnered or planned with, in the past (and perhaps the future too!) including the Lumbini Program for training of Women Village Eye Screeners www.lei.org.np (http://www NULL.lei NULL.org NULL.np/) and the remarkable ‘WBDI’ Organization in Samoa, www.womeninbusiness.ws (http://www NULL.womeninbusiness NULL.ws/) the One in Three Women Organization (Seattle) www.oneinthreewomen.com (http://www NULL.oneinthreewomen NULL.com/) and World Birth Aid (Seattle) www.worldbirthaid.org (http://www NULL.worldbirthaid NULL.org/)
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|Haiti Cholera Relief 2010.
Dr Amy Osborne
The organizers of Rose Charities also pay tribute and gratitude to the professional women volunteers (nurses, physicians, counselors, logisticians etc) who have contributed over 50% of involvement, organization and sustainability of emergency relief and ‘post-relief’ operations Rose Charities and close partners AMDA (http://amdacanada NULL.org) have played over the years. Their magnificent work has helped tens of thousands of victims in many parts of the globe.
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|Hurricane Katrina 2005
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|2004 Asian Tsunami Sri Lanka
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|Japan Eathquake/Tsunami 2011|
Rose Charities has been in Sri Lanka since the devastating Tsunami in 2004. Since then, we’ve expanded our projects beyond disaster relief. Rose Sri Lanka now has 14 preschools, a primary education enrichment program in 25 schools, a secondary education enrichment program, merit and need based university scholarships, women’s support groups and vocational training, girls leadership and sport clubs, health and nutrition programs, and their own disaster relief efforts.
With the association of Dr. Jogarajah of Loyal Publications, Colombo a book containing ten years of past Grade 5 Scholarship Examination published by Loyal Publication have been issued to a number of students who will sit for the Exams in August, 2011.
The Scholarship Examination (also known as the Grade 5 Scholarship exam) is a highly competitive Sri Lankan examination conducted by the Department of Examinations of the Ministry of Education. It is optional for students to undertake it during the final year of primary school (Grade 5 (usually ages 9-10)). Based on the results of the exam, students could transfer to prominent national schools. This Exam is a means for gifted students from villages to move to better schools with government scholarships. Annually based on demand for individual schools, cut-off marks are set by the Ministry of Education. In recent years the exam has become extremely competitive.
Every parent likes to enroll their child to a popular good school in major cities. If they fail in the first round to enter their child to Grade 1, then their next goal would be to get a good school by preparing their child to obtain a high mark in Grade 5 Scholarship examination. In this Examination, students get direct raw mark, unlike other examinations. Therefore Grade 5 Scholarship exam may be the hardest exam in the Sri Lankan school system, considering the age of the candidates.
Rose Charities Srilanka, under its Primary Enrichment Program helps students who are from areas of poor income generation and do not have the resources and access to gain practicable knowledge to prepare them for exam by conducting Enrichment classes after schools. RCSL is not only focusing the Grade 5 students but also preparing grade 4 students in advance to sit for the Grade 5 Scholarship Exam in the year after.
In 2010 Scholarship examination, according to Ceylon Daily News (26 September 2010), 267,750 of the 315,000 students sat the Grade 5 scholarship examination and obtained 70 marks or more. Out of these 16,000 students gained admission to popular schools in the country. Students who obtained best marks will get into following popular school in major Cities in Sri Lanka.
Like last year, in 2011 RCSL is implementing the Primary Enrichment Program in 14 schools in the area with a total of 410 students in grade 5 and 11 schools with 314 students in grade 4. Our Primary enrichment classes for grade 5 came to completion in June, 2011. As a part of this enrichment classes some of the students who were unable to afford for educational materials were issued with past paper books.
# Schools Name
1 Kalaimagal Vidyalayam, Veppayadi.
2 Sri Sakthi Vidyalayam, Navithanvely
3 Annamalai Maha Vidyalayam, Navithanvely.
4 Kannagi Hindu Vidyalayam, Karaitivu
5 Saraswathy Vidyalayam, Neelawanai.
6 Maha Vishnu Vidyalayam, Pandiruppu.
7 Kalaimagal Vidyalayam, Vellavely.
8 Vipulananda Maha Vidyalayam, Malwatta.
9 G.T.M. School, Puthunagar
10 English Language Institute, Kalmunai
11 Vinayagar Vidyalayam, Addappalam.
12 Kanapathipuram Vidyalayam, Malwatta
13 At-Risk Students from Various Villages
(http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/DSC_0007 NULL.jpg)It’s been a busy couple of weeks for us at the Rose Charities Sri Lanka office. The Women’s Sports Meet was a great success as women’s groups from Kalmunai, Pandarippu, Natpaddiumunai and Karaitivu came to participate in a fun day of team building games, skill competitions and social activities. Prizes were handed out to winners while everyone enjoyed a fun-spirited afternoon at the Rose Sri Lanka Head Office. In the traditional English class, staff are learning how to construct an argument, an important skill in all languages. To display what they have (http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/DSC_0311 NULL.jpg)learned, we conducted a class debate between women staff and men staff. The topic was “Women need to have a profession, participate in the work force and the duties at home should be shared between husband and wife.” The girls’ team supported the statement while men were against. It turned out to be a heated debate, demonstrating strong debating skills on both sides. The men of the office stated safety is an issue for young girls and women, especially after dark, limiting a woman’s working hours and freedom to leave the house. On the other hand, the women argued that the more women become professionals the more likely women’s safety will become a priority in society. It was clear that this debate is an important issue among young people in Sri Lanka. Many of the women staff members voiced strong opinions on this issue, attitudes that were certainly formed well before the debate assignment. (http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/DSC_0030 NULL.jpg)Sonia and I spent the weekend at Arugam Bay surfing, swimming and enjoying the beautiful Sri Lankan beach. On our way home, we opted to take the public transit to Kalmunai. About a half hour outside of Kalmunai, a woman boarded the bus with bags of flour and many supplies. She had gone to a neighboring town to purchase ingredients and supplies. As she turned around and saw Sonia and I on the bus her face lit up as she recognized us from the Rose’s Women’s Meet last week. She then exclaimed to the entire overcrowded bus that we were from Canada working in Kalmunai for Rose Charities, an organization that had lent her money to start her small business. As soon as she said the word “Rose” we could see that many people recognized the name and looked at us with gratitude and excitement. (http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/DSC_0329 NULL.jpg)As a token of her appreciation she handed us two small bags of kurakan flour, a type of flour used to make string hoppers and puttu (my favorite Sri Lankan meal). She then quickly jumped off of the moving bus with her luggage and gracefully placed the heavy bags of flour on the crest of her head. As the bus pulled away we watched her balance the bags, weaving in and out of street traffic and into a side street. The last week has demonstrated the strength, generosity and intelligence of the Sri Lankan people, especially the women. Whether at the Women’s Sport Meet, in the office among the staff or on the bus, we can’t help but appreciate the independent spirit of all of the women we meet.
On Wednesday we traveled 45 minutes out of Kalmunai to an area called Vellaveli where Rose is planning to start educational and support programs next month.
Vellaveli is a cultivation dependent area located on the border of the Batticaloa and Ampara District. Though Rose Sri Lanka does not work in the Batticaloa district, Rose came to Vellaveli after it was severely damaged in recent floods. Once controlled by the LTT (Liberated Tamil Tigers) during the civil war, Vellaveli and surrounding areas have gone through decades of isolation. This was apparent when we came across a broken bridge entering the village (see pictures below). Luckily there was a new bridge built that we could take, but during the floods, this was the bridge that the Rose staff crossed in order to deliver relief materials to people without food, shelter or clothes. Call it extremely dedicated or just plain crazy, perhaps Anthony and his team are little bit of both. It was also clear that the needs of the people outweighed the relief workers’ fear.
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Even after the floods subsided, the needs in this area were vast. As a first step, Rose carried out a systematic pre-assessment survey among families in order to first develop baseline statistics of the population and second determine the most immediate needs of the people in this area. What they found through this process is an overwhelming number of widows and school drop outs in Vellaveli, particularly young boys, an effect of the civil war.
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The purpose of our visit to Vellaveli was to meet with the Divisional Secretary of the Pallewatta District (the district that Vellaveli is in) to discuss the potential programs and workshops that Rose will carry out. This meeting demonstrated the importance of a cooperative relationship between NGO’s, government and multi-national organizations as we discussed collaborating with the Pallewatta Divisional Secretary who is working closely with the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).
Using the baseline data and in the meeting, Rose identified the need for women’s groups, mother and child nutritional workshops and a drop-out educational support programs. These programs will start early May and will be the first of many RCSL programs in the area. Vellaveli is just an example of Rose identifying and addressing the need in a specific area while at the same time building strong partnerships with other organizations.
(http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/DSC_02601 NULL.jpg)The more we visit Rose’s programs, the more we realize how far-reaching Rose Charities Sri Lanka really is. Since 2006, Rose Sri Lanka has directly supported isolated and marginalized Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim communities. In 2011, Rose is addressing educational needs in 9 different districts, covering a large part of not just Kalmunai but the Eastern Province.
On Thursday morning P. Latha, the sports coordinator and P. Kanalakannan, the health and nutrition coordinator took us to Chalambaikrany, a dominantly Muslim area. We visited three preschools, Zahira Preschool, Iemam Hasal Preschool and Mega Preschool where we were welcomed by teachers, parents and children. At Zahira Preschool we met a teacher that had won the ‘Best Preschool Teacher’ award from Rose in 2009. She seemed to take pride in not only her award but her children’s progress. The children were lined up in a semi circle around the teacher, some of the most well behaved 3 year olds we’ve ever seen.
(http://www NULL.rosecanada NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/sri-lanka-school-kids1 NULL.jpg)At Iemam Hasali Preschool, we walked in to find children playing with red paint and crayons. There was red paint on their hands, faces and uniforms just as much as their papers. It was exciting to see the children given so much creative freedom and thoroughly enjoy their extra-curricular activities. Rose provides the preschools with art supplies and encourages teachers to balance behavioral development with fun, stimulating activities like art and singing. While in Kalmunai, Sonia has been spending time with preschool teachers to share teaching methods and improve English skills. Singing songs like “Eyes, ears, mouth and nose” and “The Hokey Pokey” has not only been fun but is an effective way to teach 3 year olds about anatomy.
We got to Mega Preschool at around 11:00 am, just as students were getting ready to go home. While the children were gathered together with (http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/DSC_0265 NULL.jpg)their Rose backpacks, mothers and fathers came to collect them. The teacher at Mega Preschool shared that parents are increasingly supportive of early childhood development and extremely helpful to the teachers inside and outside the classroom. A mother was practicing the English words that her child had learned in class until he worked up the confidence to come up to us and introduce himself in English. I’ve never been more pleased to be asked “Hello, how are you? What is your name?”
We also learned that the Sri Lankan government has recently agreed to contribute milk packets to each preschool child as a snack. This contribution is the start of a cooperative relationship between Rose Charities and the Sri Lankan government to improve early childhood education in the Ampara District.
(http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/DSC_0258 NULL.jpg)Early childhood education is one of Rose Charities’ central programs, with 14 preschools running across the Ampara District. However the program does not only improve access to early education, Rose is constantly working to improve the quality of education in each preschool. Now with government support, perhaps Rose’s model in Ampara can be applied throughout Sri Lanka in future years.
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(http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/DSC_0044 NULL.jpg)On our first day in Kalmunai, Anthony took us to the village of Malwatha where we saw a preschool class in progress. We were greeted with many good mornings from the children who were dressed neatly in their uniforms and Rose Charities ties. Next door, the mothers of the children were also in school, learning their own trade involving design and sewing. The preschool gives many of these young mothers the opportunity to not only educate their children but to develop useful skills. The most significant impact of this program is the importance of education which is instilled in both mothers and children.
We’ve started a combination of traditional English classes and c (http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/DSC_0026 NULL.jpg)omputer classes with the Rose staff. A class in the morning with all of the staff is delivered in the classroom. We then have two separate computer classes with groups of 6-7 in the afternoon using the Knowledge One program. So far, we’ve covered material on phone and email etiquette, practicing phone conversations and reading out loud in class. It took a couple days to determine which staff members were intermediate and which were beginners. One thing is for sure, despite the varying levels, ALL of the staff here are extremely keen to learn and improve their English skills. Sonia has a hard time picking a volunteer in class because everyone puts their hand up! She is excited to teach such eager students. Amanda on the other hand has taken up Tamil; language exchange!
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Women’s Micro-credit Meeting
On Wednesday afternoon we attended a monthly women’s micro-credit meeting. Some women wore turquoise saris, representing the village of Natpaddimunai while others wore pink saris, representing the villages of Pandiruppu, Neelavanai and Veeracholai. The sari colors act as a unifying symbol among women of the same village, creating a large support system . At the meeting the women discussed issues around their loans and made loan payments. Many women were eager to apply for a bank loan and used the meeting to find others that were willing to co-sign with them. It was interesting to see women from different areas, who normally would not meet, band together in order to achieve economic independence.
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We met a long time successful loan recipient that ran her own fishing business. With the loans she was able to slowly build up her capital and buy a boat and large fishing nets. Unfortunately, her boat and fishing nets were lost in the recent floods, however that didn’t seem to diminish her strong entrepreneurial spirit.
We also met a woman in her early twenties who had enrolled in a sewing class through Rose’s vocational training program. After graduating, she successfully applied for a micro credit loan and bought a sewing machine to start her own business. She now has enough credit to apply for a private bank loan that will enable her to expand her business. Though she is young she is a leader within the women’s group.
(http://www NULL.rosesrilanka NULL.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/DSC_0014 NULL.jpg)On Thursday we attended another women’s microcredit group in Annamalai district. Here, we saw a preschool that was initiated and built by the local women’s group in order to provide their children with a preschool education. We found that this group had similar concerns to the women in Natpaddimunai, creating groups of ten in order to apply for loans. Additionally, the women talked about their concern for their children’s education as their local school was short teachers. One woman volunteered to go and speak to the principal about their collective concerns.
Our first few days in Kalmunai have been very rewarding, we are so impressed at how much Rose is embedded in the community and how micro credit is the driving force of the organization. Most of the women who receive loans from micro credit have children involved in RCSL’s preschool, primary and secondary educational enrichment programs. As a result, these meetings are a place for women to come and not only talk about loans and their business, but also the needs of their children and families.
We are looking forward the girls’ sports meet on April 11th and will update you on all of the fun activities. Sonia is planning to play her first cricket game!