The Piyawara community pre-school in Veheratanna was ceremonially declared open on Friday 14 March 2014 by Sri Lanka’s legendary cricketer Mr. Roshan Mahanama in the presence of the Minister of Child Development Hon. Tissa Karaliadda, Chairman Hemas Outreach Foundation Mr. Abbas Esufally and several other dignitaries.
This school was built with Mr. Mahanama’s personal funds. An emotional Mahanama said, “In 1996 I did my part in a humble way for Sri Lanka cricket and we won the Word Cup. Today I have no words to explain my feelings. The gifting of this Piyawara pre-school is yet another great achievement in my life and a fulfilling one. I want to contribute to the well-being of the children of this country and I strongly believe that a sound education for our children is of utmost importance”.
The villagers of Veheratanna experienced the brutality of a 30 year old war and have now come back to the village to resettle. The village has grown into one big jungle and these simple men and women have had to start life from scratch.
Seeing their little clay huts with minimum belongings makes one feel guilty. The only proper building in the village today is this pre-school. Children from the neighbouring villages of Kohombagaswewa, Konwewa, Veherawewa and Kambiliwewa will also attend this pre-school. A total of 136 children will use the school by 2015. The tragedy is that many of the children from these villages have to walk 12 kms through thick jungle to reach the nearest Primary School. This too is yet another crying need.
We do place on record our thanks to the Sri Lanka Army’s 62nd Division which came forward in a magnanimous show of support and physically built the school for these children. They have been very supportive of this project and have gone all out to help us bring about a tangible and significant change in the lives of these villagers.
Yes, the Government has provided basic infrastructure and development is taking place. This however is not an easy task. The chasm is wide and thus support from each and every one of us will go a long way to help this community.
HEMAS OUTREACH FOUNDATION
Head of Group Sustainability & Corporate Communications
Executive Director – Hemas Outreach Foundation