Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: New change for children in war affected Muthur

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One group of students in the classroom is already finishing written term exams, which check their knowledge of the past term. The last exam in November was written in the shade of trees in the school quad because classrooms were destroyed or occupied by IDP's. The last child handed in his exam form to his teacher impatiently because he wanted to go enjoy the ceremony with the rest of the students. They have, together with students and directors from eight schools, prepared an official ceremony for representatives of People in Need; those who came to hand over newly built and reconstructed schools.

"Children have decorated the school with flowers to show their thanks," said director of Al Manar School Mr. Iqbal in his speech. "This area is one of the poorest and lacks investment in the education sector. Unfortunately this school was destroyed in August of last year, during a conflict between the Sri Lankan army and Tamil tigers (LTTE)," he added. Conflict had quieted down in September 2006 and people started to return to the area. The school was devastated by this conflict and also because it was used as a temporary accommodation for IDPs, those who lost houses during the bombing. "The IDPs did not behave very respectfully with regard to the schools," said Iqbar.

"We came back to Muthur, the area north east of Sri Lanka, in autumn after the shelling. A lot of agencies still did not come back after this," clarifying Matej Novak, Head of Mission of PIN. "Traditionally a large part of our current activity is in the educational sector and not only here but everywhere we are operating." PIN has assisted in building six new schools and reconstructing five more in last three months. These new schools can accommodate more that 840 students.

Children are curiously peering at the foreigner after the official end of the ceremony and some of them are bringing pictures to show him. "This is what our school will look like. We will plant flowers. We are just missing some elephants in the garden," said young Halim. "And many thanks for our school Mr. Director."

In addition to the eleven schools built or reconstructed, PIN has built two new schools and pre-schools and repaired many more since the Tsunami. Currently, another school is being built in Kalmunai, Ampara district, which will accommodate 200 school children. PIN's other education-related activities include vocational training, development of the school and pre-school sectors and English teacher training. All projects are funded from the public collection called "SOS Sri Lanka" launched in the Czech Republic just days after the Tsunami hit, during which the inhabitants of this small European country donated more than 5 million dollars.

Veronika Dvorackova