Teaching is more than imparting knowledge, it is inspiring change. Learning – is more than absorbing facts it is acquiring understanding.William Arthur ward
Education is the most important gift a child could be presented with, and we must help underprivileged kids so that they can also acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and intelligence and grow to become triumphant human beings.
The Rotaract Club of Achievers Lanka Business School initiated a project targeting young children of the slum area of Koombi Kale in Kirulapone. It mainly focuses on educating the underprivileged students in this area, and this project commenced in October 2019.
After I was appointed as the Community Service Director of the club, Sneha was my first project, handed over by our President Rtr. Bipash Suriyage (Rtr. Year-21/22). This project has been considered one of the signature projects of our club. I was so excited to involve myself in this project. I felt that this was a great opportunity for me to acquire and learn more skills and knowledge from these young souls and also be made aware of the area that these children were brought up in and the activities that were conducted by Reverend Ashen to support the families who lived there. Along with the support and guidance from Reverend Ashen, this project was conducted for the 4th consecutive year.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we couldn’t conduct physical classes, but still, we had plans to conduct virtual classes for these kids every day. Most of our club members volunteered as mentors and teachers, and they were involved happily and helped these children in their studies. Therefore, every day each volunteer conducted classes for each student via Zoom with different time slots to provide them with the most competent teaching they can contribute. The majority of the children actively joined all the classes, and all students became favorites for our volunteers in the club.
All these students were very smart, eager to study, and punctual for all the classes. My team and I were very glad about the response and improvement reflected by our students and that motivated us to do more classes for them and help them in a small way for them to shine like stars in the future. Mathematics, Science, English, Business Studies and Accounting, Sinhala, and IT are the subjects we taught for grades 6 to 11 in all three mediums (English, Sinhala, and Tamil).
These young little hearts are also a part of a group called “Empowered Rangers”, where many exhilarating and thriving group activities take place. This was fully organized by Pastor Ashen and he commits full time to improving skills such as communication and leadership in the children and also does sessions related to mental health, etc.
It also includes activities like campaigning, dancing, and singing, and some of these talents are showcased in a concert at the end of the year.
17th Nov 2022 was the day of my first visit to Koombi Kale in Kirulapone. On that day, a session on Mental Health was conducted by the LEADS Organization at the Koombi Kale Buddhist Temple auditorium from 5.30 pm onwards. This hall was far away from the main road, and when I entered with our teammates, the place was very dark and scary. My heart beat fast at that moment, and I realized the type of reality these children were living in. 80 parents and 20 kids participated in our 1st Mental Health session, and we ended it with fellowship and served refreshments. During that session, I met two cute little girls who helped me arrange the place, and soon, they became my friends. After a few hours, these two girls came to me and gave a flower with a card and thanked me for the help and support given to them by organizing classes. At that moment, I felt like I have achieved the greatest height in my life.
In order to expand our volunteer service to this project, we partnered up with the Foundation of Goodness for the further expansion of virtual classes. We received 25 new applications from students in grades 6 to 12 to conduct Spoken English classes via zoom. Then we faced a lack of volunteers to support new kids from the Dematagoda and Borella areas. After a few meetings, the PR directors of our club created a poster mentioning that we needed volunteers to conduct Spoken English classes via zoom. After two days, I was surprised to see the results. We got nearly 30 registrants external to our club who were willing to conduct free Spoken English classes.
Thereafter, we had a meeting with the new volunteers and started the classes according to their availability. We kept track of each and every student’s attendance by the updates mentioned in record books at the end of each class.
We were able to expand the IT Lab in Kirulapone by donating 6 computers and 10 computer desks with the help of the Foundation of Goodness in order to further conduct IT classes for students in the slum area.
It was my pleasure to have been able to chair this unique project ‘SNEHA’ which helped me in different ways to improve myself. I also learned to thank God for the blessings he has showered upon us and to share those blessings with others who are underprivileged. That action is the greatest thing we could do. We might not value the opportunities we receive regarding education enough, but kids like these are eagerly waiting for those opportunities to use them and become better versions of themselves.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world!”
Therefore, let us step forward, reach out to more young little hearts who might be in need, and rise by lifting others. Together we can proceed to serve by Embracing the Change!
Written by: Rtr. Lydia George
Edited by: Rtr. Hiruni Hettiarachchi