Gilkanda and Ravi Kumar

Gilkanda School

On the suggestion of the Elpitiya Zonal Director, Robert visited Gilkanda School over the Easter holidays. The school Is located in an oil-palm plantation and none of the 21 pupils has ever left company land.  The principal told Robert that most of the children are malnourished and live in “line-houses” – holdovers form the oppressive colonial era, in which families occupy a single room in a building that has no electricity or running water. As well as a morning meal, the principal has asked us to consider repairing the boys’ toilet which is not functioning, and perhaps provide the school with some much-needed classroom resources. Robert did the maths and the whole project should cost in the region of £500 a year. The Zonal Director said that there are several similar small but desperately needy schools in the area. Certainly Gilkanda seems to a project that is right up Extra Cover’s alley – a small, but viable school with poor, marginalised children.

Ravi Kumar

Although Sri Lanka’s a Buddhist country, the government offices were all closed on Good Friday, or Black Friday as they call it, and so on that day Robert made several private visits with Thishantha to people’s homes. On one visit, he met Ravi Kumar and his family. Ravi Kumar was an estate work who has become paralysed from the waist down following a fall while working on a plantation. He and his family all live in a wattle and daub – basically clay and stick – two-room house. To keep the family afloat while her husband remains at home, his wife Sandumali works two jobs – tea plucking from 7.30 to 2.30 and then in a tea factory from 7.30 pm until after midnight.

Before his accident, Ravi Kumar had started on building a larger house on another plot of land across the road – still wattle and daub, but this time with an outdoor loo, a kitchen, and a separate bedroom for the kids, Hiruni and Rashan. Robert spent some time with Ravi Kumar and his family, chatting about school and medical concerns, and he learned that to build this wheelchair-accessible house from its current state will cost around 100,000 rupees, or £400.

Posted in Latest news, The schools.