Project Sri Lanka

Project Sri Lanka is a major programme of activity designed to revitalise rural communities stricken by the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka.   In the second phase it has also aimed to address the divide between poor coastal communities, many of which were decimated by the Tsumani, and extremely poor inland villages, which have their own urgent humanitarian needs.   The project has four key elements:

  • Provision of physical structures and equipment (schools which also serve as community centres)
  • Human, emotional and spiritual support (student summer placements and staff visits)
  • Intellectual and academic supoprt (academic exchanges)
  • Financial aid for educational programmes (regional fund-raising in the UK)

Durham students play a central role in fundraising each year and student groups from Durham spend nine weeks of their summer vacation working as volunteers and engaging in community development activities and teaching in the “adopted” villages.

Overall, the project will have seen the establishment of six community learning centres, three on the Tsunami south coast of Sri Lanka (in Hiththatiya, Kirelawela and Aththudawa) and three inland in hill-country tea growing areas of the Sabaragamuwa Province (in Ihalagalagama, Puwakgahawela and Pambahinna).  The BFSS has provided “matched funding” for that raised by the students and Durham University for the three years of the second phase of the project and this has been used principally for community buildings in the inland villages.   Each of the community learning centres incorporates ICT opportunities as well as basic educational facilities for the young and other community learning facilities.    An official “twinning link” has been established between each of the coastal and the inland villages.

Evaluation has been a key part of the project and has highlighted the gains by the local communities including direct educational impact and also personal, social and cultural gains.  Comments from local people in 2010 include:

“Earlier people did not bother about sending their children to school.  Now they are sending the children and they are learning English and some of the women are even saving which is very good.”

“It is good to have classes with computers because now we can increase our knowledge.”

“All of the children who went to classes far away are now coming to this building.   The children of our village now have the freedom to come here.   The building is used for sewing classes and other training programmes as well as the school.”

If you are a UK charitable organisation looking for funding for education projects, check out our grant giving criteria or contact us for further information about our grants to charities.