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Musaeus to Mirusuvil Building Bridges, North to South

3 December 2013 06:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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23rd Colombo Guide Company moves forward in their programme aimed at student and school development in the North



Radio show host and author Steve Maraboli once said a kind gesture has the ability to reach a wound that only compassion can heal. . . Sri Lanka is presently healing a wound inflicted by an atrocious war that festered and ravaged the country for over three decades. With fastidious steps being taken to mend the rusty relations between the North and South, separated from each other for many years, it is vital that each citizen, in his/her own capacity, makes his/her gestures of kindness and compassion for a swift and effective recovery.

The 23rd Colombo Guide Company of  Museaus College has been making a significant contribution towards this healing process since 2011, building bridges between the North and the South through the "Musaeus to Mirusuvil" programme. Initiated with the aim of assisting student and school development in the North - a much- needed necessity against the backdrop of children traumatized by the conflict and schools that have been razed to the ground, it has spread its branches wide during the span of the past two years.

"It all started during a trip I made to Jaffna in July 2011 to participate in a capacity-building and monitoring mission exercise for Girl Guides in the Northern Province," says the 23rd Colombo Guide Captain, Miss Kanthi Fernando as she recalls the humble beginnings. Upon witnessing the suffering and the wreckage of the war-ravaged areas, she had been on the lookout for a point from which the 23rd Colombo Guides could establish a meaningful community service programme.
Her aspirations were realised when she was informed about the plight of the Mirusuvil Roman Catholic Tamil Mixed School located in the Thennamaradchy Education Zone, by former 23rd Colombo Senior Guide Visakha Tillekeratne.




The Journey so far
"The state of the school that I witnessed during my first visit there to meet the Principal for a discussion regarding the feasibility of the programme distressed me. The buildings were very badly damaged and although ad hoc repairs had been made by various NGOs, the school still needed much renovation," Ms. Fernando recalls while adding, "Among our main objectives were improving the students' learning outcomes and making the school more children-friendly and attractive."   
She says the bullet ridden walls and drab and dull classrooms were not at all welcoming for the students. "The school was not a joyful place that encouraged students to attend and there were also dire sanitation issues since there was only one wash room for the entire school and the staff," Ms. Fernando adds.

Upon prioritising the necessary assistance for the school, 23rd Colombo has carried out several projects to develop the learning capacities of the students as well as school infrastructure, including a series of seminars held in 2012 in English, Mathematics and Science for students preparing for the 2012 O/L examination. "It was the first time that students from this schoolsat the O/L examination. We are pleased to say that 36% of the students passed the examination and four of them qualified for higher studies."

Since most students are from low income families, a scholarship system has also been arranged by the Ex-23rd Colombo Club for the students who performed well at the O/L examination. "The scholarship programme will be covering the students' expenses throughout their A/Ls and even through their university education if they so require. Moreover, if the scholarship holder wishes to join a technical or vocational school, the scholarship covers the expenses of the chosen institute as well," says President of Ex-23rd Colombo Club, Ms. Champa Morais who is one of the key figures working hard towards making the 'Musaeus to Mirusuvil' programme a continuing success.

Ms. Morais adds that among other contributions the Guides have made to Mirusuvil school is a brand new library built and fully equipped through their expenses. Moreover, additional assistance provided to the students includes providing water filters, stationary requirements of all students as and when required and providing additional library books. "This year, arrangements have also been made to provide a gift pack to all the students of the school inclusive of a uniform, books and stationery necessary for their new school term."




'Home Hospitality'
One of the most interesting programmes initiated through 'Musaeus to Mirusuvil' is the 'Home Hospitality' programme, which had been initially carried out in 2012.
Arrangements were made by the Guides for the Mirusuvil students to visit Colombo and the expenses of the trip were borne through sponsorships. They were accommodated in the Musaeus hostel.  "This year we moved a step forward and made arrangements for the students visiting Colombo to be accommodated and taken care of by a host family," Ms. Morais explains.  

This year's 'Home Hospitality' programme is due to commence on December 7 and a total of 24 students of the Mirusuvil School (5 boys and 19 girls) are due to visit Colombo during the year-end vacation. "They are accompanied by two teachers and each student would be accommodated and taken care of by a host family throughout the duration of their stay."

Among the sites they are due to visit during the trip to Colombo includes the Parliament, the Independence Square, Galle Face, the Harbour and the Guruge Nature Park. "On December 9th they would all be brought to the Musaeus College grounds to be entertained at a campfire. Arrangements have also been made to open a bank account for each of the visiting students" she added.  

Ms. Morais says the 'Home Hospitality' programme would not have been a reality without the support and sponsorships of Hidramani Group, Odel, Pizza Hut, Harpos Pizzas, Munchee Biscuits, Sampath Bank, Aqua Fresh Water, Sensaal, KFC, the NYK Lines Lanka Ltd. and Citibank, one of the sponsors of the Uniforms Project.  
Miss Fernando thanks the parents of the Guides who have volunteered to host the students adding “they have always generously responded to our appeals for assistance to carry out this project".

 "Our aim is to continue and expand the development programmes we are presently carrying out at the Mirusuvil School. We welcome those who are interested in being part of this programme, who will be willing to make their contribution towards building bridges between the North and the South to join and help us assist these children who require our help and care," Ms. Morais added.
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