SRI LANKA IN CRISIS
Published : Jun 21
Written By : Paul Forkan
Location : Sri Lanka
WHY DO WE LOVE SRI LANKA SO MUCH?
For those not familiar with our story, we were on holiday in Sri Lanka when the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami hit. Whilst Rob and I managed to escape with our two younger siblings, our parents didn’t survive and our world fell apart. I was fifteen, Rob was seventeen, our brother and sister were eleven and eight. In the hours and days immediately after the devastation, when we were desperately searching for our parents, sadly no Westerners offered to help us, but the Sri Lankan community did. We will never forget one particular boy, who despite being alone, terrified and having lost his mum like us, helped us find the hospital and police station. The love we feel for the Sri Lankan community and our desire to give back as instilled in us by our parents, motivated us to build our first Gandys Kids Campus there in 2014.
‘They are proud people, but now they are asking for our help’. As Gandys rallies to help families during Sri Lanka’s state of emergency, find out how you can offer your support'
Eight years on, our Sri Lanka Kids Campus is still going strong, functioning not only as a centre for food, education and medicine for disadvantaged local children and their families, but also as a community hub providing support and provisions in the face of the country’s latest crisis.
Rob and I were meant to fly out to Sri Lanka to visit the Gandys Kids Campus in May this year, but the trip had to be cancelled due to the country’s economic crisis and state of emergency. The road to the village where our children’s home is based had been closed off due to the protests and a curfew was imposed on the capital, Colombo, resulting in some states being in lockdown.
We couldn’t stand back and watch the community we love and owe so much to, suffer once again. Sri Lankans are very proud people and hate to ask for help, but resources in the country are sparse and the Kids Campus leaders themselves were increasingly being approached to assist the local community. Of course, Gandys were happy to help. Thanks to recent funding, the Gandys Foundation was able to donate over £1000 for 100 food packages, each one providing local families with enough food for a month. The families came to collect their packages one by one at the door of the Campus, with the children each receiving a special treat.
We’ve come a long way since we started building the Sri Lanka Campus in 2014. Back then, the locals were wary, but after seeing that it is run by local people, providing essential help for the whole community, they are incredibly grateful for the work carried out by the Gandys Foundation. So much so, there have been many religious ceremonies and blessings by the local priests.
There are currently 300 children registered at the Campus, which has been running since December 2015. Children in Sri Lanka do not have access to free education until the age of six, so often lack discipline and are less likely to complete their GCE exams (equivalent to O’levels) successfully. The Gandys Campus provides free education for children as young as three to enable their parents to work and provide for their families, and to give the children a head start on their education. Once they’re at school, the campus offers them tuition classes, helping to increase their chances of a better future. The campus also has a playground and a computer lab, as well as extra-curricular activities including sports, arts and crafts, music, trips to local museums and historical sites, social and organisational skills, and advice on health and hygiene. We also offer health checks, as well as parental guidance and counselling.
Before the economic crisis and state of emergency hit Sri Lanka, we were working towards providing lunches and school start kits for all the children attending our campus. We are also aiming to hold further rounds of health clinics every six months.
CAN YOU HELP?
As Sri Lanka faces its current challenges, our Kids Campus needs our help more than ever. But to deliver this, we need additional funding.
With increased donations, the Gandys Foundation will be able to provide the Kids Campus with:
- A typical breakfast / lunch to include curry, squash, creme caramel / chocolate bar;
- School starter kits to include school bag, water bottle, book list, uniform, shoes, stationery;
- The next round of Health Clinics every six months. This involves a dentist, eye doctor, general health practitioner, ear nose and throat specialist visiting the Kids Campus, checking the children's overall health and providing basic treatment and advice.
HOW TO DONATE?We are incredibly grateful to our supporters – your donation will make a huge difference to lives in Sri Lanka. If you would like to donate, please visit Gandys Foundation Just Giving or make a purchase at Gandys online here proceeds from your sale will go to the Gandys Foundation.
P.S Did I mention that Sri Lanka is insanely beautiful? Our top 5 special places to visit (for when travel is back on) and a great way to help boost the country’s economy: