Securing Another Year in School for the Children in Mahiyanganaya

February 12, 2023by Shahinaz Matheen

Education builds confidence to hope and dream of a better tomorrow. 

It is the only path to breaking the cycle of poverty. 

Education is not merely what we gather through textbooks. It is the experience gained through social interactions, life lessons, goals & achievements. And the best environment for laying the foundation for a life full of learning is school. 

Unfortunately, not every child has access to education. As the world progresses in terms of new findings & technological advancements, literacy rates may increase, but there remains a significant sector of our societies deprived of education.

As Sri Lanka battles a severe economic crisis, poverty levels increase significantly, dragging many families into a state of despair.

As incomes drop drastically & expenses skyrocket due to the doubled inflation, our Sri Lankan team members and their families share how parents in their community struggle to merely provide the three basic meals let alone afford to buy school supplies for their children. 

Just a few months ago, Sri Lanka reported that only 25% of students were attending school in the area of Kelaniya (greater Colombo) due to poverty & insufficient food supplies. The numbers are even lower in the rural parts of Sri Lanka.

With much hope in our hearts, team WAO in Sri Lanka left for Mahiyanganaya, a rural village in the southeast of Sri Lanka, with packs of supplies and brand-new school bags for 50 children aged 6-15 years.

After a journey of over 5 hours, they reached their destination and the hospitality was just amazing. Despite the hardships Dhammika, Somawathi and Mr Abeyrathne, the family that owned the premises where the distribution was to take place insisted on providing lunch for the WAO team.

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“The hospitality alone was proof of how humble and kind-hearted these people were, despite the circumstances they live in. As we were finishing up with the warm, homemade lunch, we could see the children who were listed to receive the school supplies arrive with their parents. The faces brimming with so much hope and happiness left us speechless.” – Shahinaz, WAO Marketing Co-Ordinator

With school shoes going from Rs. 1,500 (roughly A$6) to close to Rs. 4,500 (roughly A$18), purchasing a pair of school shoes has now become a dream for most. School bags and the necessary stationery were no different. Families with two or three children were considering whom to educate and whom to not. 

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“Talking to the parents it was evident the hardship they faced. Especially the children would walk miles to get to school. There are very limited bus services, almost one bus in the morning, afternoon and evening and if the children miss this bus, they may have to walk home. But children are keen to attend school and the group we met were with beaming smiles” shared Tina, our WAO Remote Business Manager.

It was shocking to learn of this world beyond our eyes. 

While we lived comfortably, providing for our families and educating our children, there were families unsure of their next meal & others contemplating and left with no choice but to halt their children’s education. Completely aware of the effect it would have on their children’s future. Most of these families earn their bread through cultivation, and the lack of rain at the proper times is threatening to close down their only means of providing for their families. 

 The livelihood of most of the villagers in the Yaya 10 area is cultivation and quite frequently this too is destroyed by the wild elephant attacks and other animals too, destroying whatever little hope they have, leaving these children to suffer even more from poverty. Being a part of this project and seeing the hope that we were able to bring through WAO was a blessing & I am thankful & proud to work under the guidance of  Marlon and Jeri, administrators of an organization that support individuals in need. Assistant Training Coordinator, Sasri said sharing her thoughts.

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We were lucky to witness some of the talents of these blooming buds as they performed for us. The distribution of the gifts was absolutely gratifying, as we witnessed the smiles that carried so much hope and dream for a better future. 

Speaking with some of the children, we learned how excited they were to receive the gifts and how enthusiastic and hopeful they were about their education & dreams. 

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It felt wonderful to be a part of this great initiative carried out by WAO. To see how those kids’ faces lit up when they received those packages was an indescribably special feeling.  The kids were extremely thankful and I think it’s such a kind deed done by WAO to help those who are in need.” were the thoughts of Thilini, Trainee Solutions Engineer at WAO, who was a part of the project.

Unfortunately, due to restrictions, we were forced to provide the bundle of school supplies and the school bag to one child of each family. Though it was heartbreaking to see the younger siblings looking on with hopeful eyes, this was a necessity to maintain a fair distribution. 

We made sure to reach out to these little ones to console, encourage and let them know that they too have a chance to succeed & achieve their dreams. 

Another one of our Trainee Solutions Engineers, Suraj, had these final words to share

With the prevailing economic hardships in Sri Lanka, where some children are forced to drop out of school because they can’t afford school supplies, this initiative was like giving them a chance at a better future, not just stationaries.

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We were left with a thousand memories of not only the happiness, we were able to bring to these children and their families, all thanks to the founders of WAO Impact and WAO Connect, but also the memories of those eyes full of hope, dreams & wishes. 

Team WAO left Mahiyanganaya with mixed emotions about the happiness we spread this Christmas and also a deeper feeling of gratitude for the blessings we have and new aspirations and hopes to help more people. 

And so we marked the closure of our 3rd successful project, launched as part of our 7th Anniversary Celebrations, where we pledged to complete seven projects, and help as many families as possible. 

They say access to education is a right, not a privilege. If only we as a global community could live up to it and secure it for children around the world. Everyone deserves a chance in life, a chance to dream & a chance to follow those dreams.

They say access to education is a right, not a privilege. If only we as a global community could live up to it and secure it for children around the world. Everyone deserves a chance in life, a chance to dream & a chance to follow those dreams.

If you would like to learn more about the causes we support or join hands with us to be a part of bringing change for betterment.
Please reach out to us.

Let’s work together towards change.

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