Image: GFF Representative Tharaka Munidasa (right) and GFF India Manager Saom Namchu (left) at the entrance to SANASA Campus in Kegalle
In early 2019 GFF visited Sri Lanka with GFF Representative Tharaka Munidasa to facilitate a partnership with local NGO, SANASA, and establish a new location for the HELPS programme.
SANASA is a large NGO with a high standing in the community and a tremendous reach and expertise. They follow a cooperative philosophy and one of their main goals is to uplift communities in a way that encourages local empowerment and local ownership. It’s SANASA Campus is a community-based, non-profit co-operative sector university. GFF HELPS will be working closely with this campus.
Some of the broader needs identified in these communities are economic empowerment, health services and education programmes. Specifically, there is a need to develop more income generation opportunities in local villages to retain skilled youth who opt to leave the community in search of better opportunities, causing a skill drain in the area. There are also not many educational opportunities, particularly for learning English, IT and business.
In March GFF visited for a five-day exploration of the rural villages and the work of SANASA. The extensive discussions were fruitful and together we identified some good introductory projects:
- Teaching English to campus students to transfer their skills onto the village community and assisting the Centre for Cooperatives and Community Studies (CCCS) to educate the wider community
- An IT skills development programme for students and the local community
- Village projects including digital learning, environmental awareness and recycling, heath workshops, first aid training and educational workshops
This month we officially opened the new IT Department, sponsored through GFF and made possible by the efforts of Tharaka and his network of professionals willing to offer their pro bono skills.
The beginnings of a productive partnership: signing the MOU with SANASA