To reach the small school, we traveled two hours by car from the city of Anuradhapura. Then we traveled another three kilometers on an unpaved dusty road. At first sight, it didn’t look like much at all. If you did not see the students, you would not have believed that the long hut and the small mud hut were a school.
This small school has no electricity, no running water and no modern facilities. There were three teachers and about sixty students who come from nearby villages. There is no public transportation, so the students walk to school. Some walk about two to three kilometers to get there.
Upon arrival, we sat on a bench under a big shady tree, which is also used as a classroom. The principal who lives in a small building next to the school also lives under difficult circumstances without running water, electricity or means of transportation. In spite of the difficult conditions, he is determined to provide a good education for the young girls and boys.
In the beginning of this year Triple Gem society sponsored a playground for this school, which included swings, slides, seesaws, and a climbing tower. Ms. Vinitha Alwis, representing Triple Gem Society, had made all the arrangements to complete the project. My sister Sriya and brother in low Samare had also assisted a great deal for the successful completion of this wonderful deed.
In the words of the principal, “the school is the main meeting place for the young girls and boys who come from the surrounding villages. This playground and equipment will bring them closer together as they play and enjoy a social life. Thank you for giving these students a place to play, laugh and have fun together”. All the students came out of the building and stood around to thank us for the providing them a place to play. I wished the students many happy moments and lots of fun and laughter.
It was obvious to me that this little school also had a lot of other needs. I asked the principal, who was happy and grateful for the playground, whether there were any other immediate needs that I could help with. He explained the difficulties he has in the school without electricity. We discussed the possibility of using solar power instead, as it is available in Sri Lanka.
Through my inquiries I found out that the cost is about $500 to $700 for one solar panel. I made arrangements to purchase a solar panel along with the necessary equipment to generate solar power for the school. Soon a solar powered lamp will replace the oil lamp in principal’s room.
I greatly appreciate the hard work and commitment of this principal who has given up all the basic comforts of life to serve the children of his rural community.