The Chilaw / Putlam Cohort of the APSL Scholarship Scheme was launched at the People’s Rural Development Association (PRDA) Chilaw office on Saturday 7th May 2016.
Ten children who had been chosen to receive scholarship funding – seven girls and three boys all attended the event, accompanied by their parents / guardians and their respective PRDA field officers.
Under the leadership of Mr Leonard Pinto, PRDA Chilaw Centre Manager, staff (Miss Anne Sachini, Miss Sandamali Deepashika, Miss Jeen Santhusha, ) had organized a warm welcome.
Mr Mervyn Silva, APSL IPP and Scholarship Coordinator arrived at the PRDA office by 9.30am, accompanied by Mrs Shanti Fernando, Executive Director, PRDA and Mr Sumal Fernando, her husband.
On their arrival, they were welcomed by children with betel leaves in the traditional Sri Lankan manner. After a breakfast of Kiri bath (milk rice), lunu-miris (spiced chillies) and bananas provided by PRDA, the programme started with the religious observances and the lighting of the traditional oil lamp.
Miss Sandamali Deepashika of PRDA welcomed everyone and invited Mr Silva addressed the group. After introducing himself, Mr Silva informed the group of Sri Lankans in the UK and told them about the APSL, its origins, objectives as well as their activities. He showed pictures of several leading Sri Lankan professionals in the UK as role models and described their achievements to encourage the children. He told them about the scholarship scheme, its objectives and progress to-date. He congratulated the winners of the scholarships and reminded them how lucky they were as there is a very high demand for these places. He advised the children and their families to do everything they can to make the best use of this opportunity give the children a better future. He finished off by explaining the processes as well as terms and conditions of the scholarship and wishing them success.
Mrs Fernando in her speech reminded the mothers and guardians what the funds could be used for and what they should not be used for and explained to them how to send the monthly returns for forwarding to APSL. As part of a planned activity, children were given the opportunity write down the needs and shortages they are currently facing in their education and to identify how the funds could help overcome them. Each child was interviewed thereafter by ?? of PRDA and the following items were mentioned. Books, clothes, shoes, table and chair, reading lamp, tuition fees, bus/van fare, electric iron and football.
Thereafter Mr Silva assisted by Mr Fernando presented each child with a pack consisting of the offer letter, terms and conditions and their bank passbooks containing the first month’s funding. During Q&A time, mothers / guardians asked many questions to clarify what the funds can and cannot be used for. Several mothers expressed their gratitude to the APSL and sponsors for their kind generosity in helping their children achieve a bright future. Thereafter the proceedings ended with a vote of thanks given by Mrs ??? after which everyone present was treated to a packed lunch. After the launch, as pre-arranged, Mr Silva travelled to Putlam with the four children their mothers/guardians, accompanied by Mr Pinto. He visited each house, met the other family members and took photographs.
Out of the four children from the area surrounding Putlam, 3 are girls and 1 is a boy. Only the boy has both parents. Due to family breakups, all three girls are raised by their grandparents who are too old or feeble to work. All four children are bright and eager to progress but have been held back by economic deprivation. As they all live on the edge of the forest and elephants come out at dusk people dare not go out at night. Our driver was anxious that we leave before dusk. So we left the last house by 4.30pm to make our way back. As it wasn’t practically possible to visit all families in one day, a separate trip was arranged for Mr Silva to visit the remaining six families from Chilaw area with Mr Pinto on Saturday, 14th May.
Mr. Silva and Mr. Pinto visited the families of the six children from Chilaw area on Saturday 14th May as planned. Out of the six children from the Chilaw area, four are girls and two are boys.