Every child has a dream to go to school. But for some this is merely a dream. If a child doesn’t have school uniforms, shoes, books or a school bag, he or she is discouraged from going to school. There are many such children in the rural areas of Sri Lanka who have been marginalised by poverty. As a result absenteeism is common among these schools and children are often deprived of their basic educational needs. Identifying the need to provide support for such children, the My Hope UK-Lanka Foundation was established. Having done various projects in aid of school-children and under-privileged families, Sujith Weerasinghe and his team is determined to find more such people and give them a hand in life.
We do a project every three to four months. So far we have done projects in Kandy, Badulla, Warakapola and Ampara
We have come across children who have never worn a pair of shoes and I got my volunteers to look for these children
Speaking to Mirror For Hope Sujith Weerasinghe, the founder of My Hope UK – Lanka Foundation said that he has been involved with charity work for the past 20 years. “I have been doing this very silently. One of the biggest achievements through this Foundation was raising 1.5 million pounds for tsunami affected victims in the country. The Foundation is dedicated to support under-privileged children in rural areas. We have come across children who have never worn a pair of shoes and I got my volunteers to look for these children. Through our projects each child gets five to ten books, five pencils, one eraser, brand new shoes sponsored by a leading shoe manufacturer in the country. In addition to that we also buy them a school bag from a supplier.”
Sujith was one of the people who made Sri Lanka proud in 2012 when he carried the Olympic Torch in London. Hence his vision is to create a future for people who could carry this torch for Sri Lanka. Speaking further Sujith said that last year they have helped close to 872 families. “I am based in UK and there are 20 people helping me with the projects. We do a project every three to four months. So far we have done projects in Kandy, Badulla, Warakapola and Ampara while we try to include every ethnic minority. All the money that we collect goes into the fund and the administrative staff doesn’t get paid.”
When Sujith gets to know about a place that needs help, he sends the volunteers to check if people are genuinely poor. “After we helped them we got to hear success stories from most places. Three to four families came back to us and said that their children have been chosen to university and that some have passed their O/Ls and most importantly children are showing an interest to go to school. Since they don’t have books and other materials, children are discouraged to come to school and schools in rural areas have higher rates of absenteeism. Even one hour of study would help a child to become a better person.”
People spend exorbitant amounts of money on weddings and other occasions. If they could pool in some money for charity they will be setting examples for the rest of the people. Last month the Foundation has given away three wheelchairs and likewise they support anybody who is in need. Speaking about the challenges faced Sujith said that the biggest challenge was in trying to find people who could help me without any hidden agendas. “I didn’t want people to think it’s a business.
Therefore I didn’t want to partner with any other organization as well. We want to do something to make a difference and nobody can discourage me in this process. We have donors from England, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.”
The next stage of this project is an attempt to give away reading glasses for those who cannot afford to buy a pair of glasses. “We have collected over 1000 frames and we are currently working on how this could be done.”
If there’s anybody interested to join this Foundation as a volunteer or would like to contribute to their projects drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and mention how you would like to help and they will get back to you at their earliest. Check out their projects on www.myhopeuklanka.com or on FB at My Hope UK Lanka Foundation.