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The sound of children singing and playing instruments was heard throughout the Batticaloa district earlier this month to commemorate the opening of 11 new schools in the region. For more than two years, many children in Sri Lanka have not had a proper place to learn. Now, with the help of AmeriCares, the children are opening the doors and walking through the halls of brand new schools.
After the 2004 tsunami destroyed entire villages, the Ministry of Education looked for donors to fund the rehabilitation of damaged schools. In collaboration with the Tsunami Education Rehabilitation Monitor (TERM), AmeriCares has been working on a 15-month project to reconstruct and rehabilitate 13 schools in the region. All of the buildings had deteriorated from use as shelters for the many people left homeless in the months following the disaster.
The inauguration of the 11 schools was met with great fanfare. Community members, local educators and residents celebrated as the children read speeches, sang songs and performed cultural dances at the events. The new buildings are fully equipped with classroom furniture, books for the libraries, laboratory equipment and sports and recreation essentials for the students’ activities. Six of the schools will also have computer learning centers. This extraordinary venture, valued at an estimated $3.1 million, will improve the education of more than 7,000 children. The remaining two schools are scheduled to open later this month.
“I thank everyone in the community who helped with this remarkable project. The people of America have donated money through AmeriCares to improve your education,” AmeriCares Sri Lanka Country Director Lisa Hilmi said in a speech to the students. “Children, you are the future of Sri Lanka. Study hard and go forward.”
Tsunami Art Benefit
In another effort to advance the education of these children, AmeriCares and TERM are hosting a Tsunami Art Benefit, on June 26 at TamarindArt, a well-known gallery in New York City. The exhibit features artwork designed by the students whose lives were affected by the disaster. All of the artwork will be for sale and the proceeds will directly benefit the young artists.
Seventeen-year old Nayomi De Zoysa is one of the artists and says that “she dreams of becoming a doctor in the future, and will use these funds to help finance her schooling.”
Nayomi De Zoysa’s photo
AmeriCares Tsunami Relief Program in Sri Lanka was established in December 2004. Today, AmeriCares Sri Lanka is working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and a variety of non-governmental organizations to continue to address some of the most pressing issues of the recovery effort, including health care, education infrastructure, water supply/sanitation needs and livelihood issues. Click here to learn more about AmeriCares tsunami recovery programs.