Image: Pavithra Gunasekara (right) and first Sri Lanka GFF Representative, Tharaka Munidasa (left) standing at the entrance to SANASA Campus.
Hi there, my name is Pavithra Gunasekara. I am a recent graduate from SANASA Campus, Kegalle, Sri Lanka, having completed a Bachelor of Science in Regional Science and Planning. My degree programme was based on community development where I got the opportunity to engage and work with a SANASA Primary Society (local cooperative community groups). With their collaboration, I developed an “Integrated Rural Development Plan” for four years under five pillars: community empowerment, uplifting the low-income families, developing infrastructure facilities, improving education & health and developing the local cooperative community groups. The second project was on encouraging small to medium entrepreneurs in Makola South area by aiding credit finance.
My experience at SANASA Campus inspired me to become more involved with the community while developing my personal and professional skills to identify my career path. The knowledge I have gained through my degree has allowed me to build rapport in the village and effectively communicate to achieve a common goal. My passion for assisting the community was enlightened and fueled by the practical experience I grew in the field. Therefore, I am proud to say I have completed my studies at SANASA Campus, Kegalle, based on cooperative principles with the leadership of Wishwaprasadini Dr P.A. Kiriwandeniya and to continue to build my experience with the Glenn Family Foundation HELPS Programme.
SANASA Campus, has a diverse university model compared to conventional universities around the world, due to its ‘green university’ concept with a strong focus on sustainability. The Center for Co-operatives and Community Development Studies (CCCS) plays a vital role on this campus; they directly interact with the rural community and conduct community-oriented programmes where students get the opportunity to integrate with villagers. The opportunity to integrate international volunteers and SANASA Campus students through the GFF HELPS programme will bring a tremendous impact on the community and the international exposure will foster the development of a global mindset in the Kegalle district. Just some of our initial projects will include:
- Teaching English to students and in the rural villages
- Teaching essential IT skills in our newly refurbished department
- Teaching First Aid to students and in the rural villages
- Environmental awareness and recycling initiatives
- The creation of mobile libraries and introduction of digital learning teaching aids
In my new role as Project Coordinator, I will continue the plan initiated by first Sri Lanka GFF Representative, Tharaka Munidasa, to build a collaborative link between SANASA Campus, GFF and the local communities. This linkage will help to ensure the sustainability and local ownership of our projects. I believe I can share my knowledge and experience with future volunteers to maximise the projects’ success. I am very excited to work with the Glenn Family Foundation and SANASA Campus to share their vision to the surrounding communities in Kegalle, Sri Lanka.