Visions of Hope Project, Pandiruppu
One project of the Trust has overshadowed all others undertaken to date in terms of size, complexity, and projected duration. The Visions of Hope Project was originally proposed to the Kiwanis Club of Colombo City by the Kiwanis EC&C Division 18 of Canada as a long-term commitment to help children affected by the Tsunami of 26 December 2004.
The Project was making virtually no headway in terms of identifying a needy community and local partners, until August 2005 when Kiwanis approached Patrick Harrigan with the proposal. With an accumulated project fund of CD$45,000, the Kiwanis Clubs wanted to build or purchase a building and operate it as a home for girl orphans. But newly legislated laws in Sri Lanka virtually ruled out the creation of new orphanages.
The project sprang to life after Pandiruppu (large village adjacent to Kalmunai) was identified as a community with a large concentration of Tsunami affected families. Dinah Barton discovered a neighborhood society of mothers who were trying to rehabilitate their tsunami affected children. Kiwanis Clubs and volunteers familiar with Pandiruppu agreed that the viable way forward for the Project was to build and operate a children's day center until the affected children become young adults.
It soon became clear that the sum available from Kiwanis EE&C Div. 18 was insufficient for the purpose. It was at this point that other project partners—including notably Knorr-Bremse Global Care Foundation and the City of Munich—stepped forward and joined as partners in a consortium.
The Project then identified available land in the heart of the affected children's neighbourhood and purchased it in January 2006 with Rs. 900,000 provided by Kiwanis EE&C Division 18. That same month, Knorr-Bremse Global Care contracted the Australian Federation for the Peoples of Asia & the Pacific (AFAP) to build a youth center upon the land. The construction was undertaken promptly, and the new Kiwanis Visions of Hope Children's Center opened its doors on 26 August 2006. Since November 2006, Kiwanis EC&C Division 18 is also supporting the Center's monthly costs of operation.
The Sri Lanka Children's Trust plays a central role in this long term project. We are responsible for its administration, accounts, and documentation, including reporting to project partners. So important is the Project to us that we shifted our registered office from Batticaloa to Pandiruppu in March 2007 in order better to maintain a continuous presence near the Children's Center.
Today (December 2008) the Project employs six local school teachers, five local volunteer teachers, and three local management trainees. The Project also maintains a house nearby for its UK volunteers: VoH Project Director and homeopathic clinic practitioner Dinah Barton (since September 2005), and TESOL qualified English teacher Helen Downham (since April 2008).
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