New Initiative From Extra Cover Sri Lanka

Thank you for all your messages asking about how things are going in Sri Lanka and how the reported chaos is affecting Extra Cover. Sadly, the news is not good, not good at all.

You can help
I very much hope that we can raise an initial £25,000 for a new Extra Cover project. It is difficult to see when the dire circumstances in Sri Lanka will be alleviated so right now we need to help people in the area become self-sufficient and, in doing so, support others in their community. The monsoons are coming to an end so now is the time to start this initiative. Let me explain more . . .

Behind the headlines
The Sri Lankan news currently making headlines has been bubbling away for months. The lack of fuel and political chaos has been at the forefront of the news but behind the headlines are the huge food and energy problems – and it is these that have most affected the help Extra Cover has been able to give.

Sri Lanka News

Up, up, up
Food inflation has gone up in many cases by 100% over the last few months. This means staples like rice are becoming increasingly unaffordable and that is without any nutritious vegetables or protein rich foods in the mix. It is even difficult to afford some vital foods like milk powder. Over the past few years Extra Cover was providing 1200 meals every day and this has increased to 1500 recently. The price per meal per day last year was 20 rupees; this has gone up to 50 rupees with another increase to 65 rupees looming.

Unusual ask
I don’t like asking for money particularly when so many of you are already making generous regular donations to this great cause. But these are exceptional circumstances. Please do read on and I will explain further. . .

Positive help
Extra Cover is currently supporting:

  • 16 government schools with food and resources
  • 6 pre-schools with food, resources and teachers’ pay

In addition, Extra Cover is currently responsible for all costs within:

  • 3 Special Educational Needs Units for children with disabilities
  • 2 Vocational Training Centres (VTC’s) for disabled young adults
  • And, last year, we took under our control another charity to run a large vocational training school for young adults with disabilities

Extra Cover Charity

Not open today
All these enterprises have been badly affected by the current circumstances to the extent that some are now opening only occasionally. This is mainly due to the prohibitive cost of fuel and transport for teachers and children. So, what does this mean? When they say “not open today”, children and young adults are not only missing out on their education and socialisation, they are unable to get what for many is their only – or only decent – meal of the day.

Help Sri Lanka Children

Let’s look forward with hope
After much deliberation with our trusted colleagues in Sri Lanka, we believe that initiating and developing home vegetable gardens will be the best way in the current circumstances to help the families become self-sufficient and help within the wider community.

It works
At one of the Extra Cover schools – Kaluwalagala Primary – they already use vegetables and herbs produced in the school vegetable garden as part of the Extra Cover daily meals. We have seen it work. We have seen how, with your help, these poor communities are proud and happy to make it work . . .   if we can provide the resources. We now need to expand the vegetable garden idea to other schools and to the hardest hit parents of the Extra Cover children so more people can produce their daily requirement of healthy fruit and vegetables.

The plan
The Sri Lankan economy is going to take many years to recover. Over and above what Extra Cover already does, we need to invest time and money into alleviating the lack of basic foods and nutrition in a sustainable way. To achieve this we are aiming to raise an initial lump sum of £25,000 to kickstart the vegetable garden initiative to our schools and 200 homes (initially to single parents and those who have a child with a disability). We will use this money to provide advice, heirloom seeds and saplings, fertilisers, garden tools, wire mesh, fences and more (see bottom of this email for details).

Extra Cover Sri Lanka

We need you
Only very small expenses (less than 4% of donations) are incurred by Extra Cover because Hansfords Menswear pays the vast majority of the administrative costs. This means that any donation you are able to give goes directly to those Sri Lankans who need it most. If you feel you are able to donate towards the initial £25,000 to kickstart this specific initiative, we would be so very grateful. We are hugely appreciative of any size of donation but if you can see your way to setting up a regular donation, it gives us the confidence to make this a long term project.

I do hope you don’t mind me asking but I feel this really is an occasion where we need to go the extra mile to help. I am hoping to travel to Sri Lanka (paid for out of my own pocket) very soon and I will report back to you with all the latest news on the Vegetable Garden Initiative.

Thank you for reading this far! If you are able to donate, Extra Cover’s payment options are below, or please do contact me directly.

Best wishes and many thanks

Matthew Hansford


Go to: Direct bank payment to Extra Cover
Or contact:
Or: Scan

Extra Cover QR Code

Details to be discussed
By Thishantha and Newton

To initiate and develop a school or home vegetable garden, the following items are likely to be required:

  • Garden tools: mammoties, spades, forks, hand held sprayers, water sprinklers, rubber hoses


  • Seeds or saplings (not imported hybrid seeds)


  • Fertiliser: a few kgs of compost to start. For subsequent requirements, families will make their own compost or liquid fertiliser using freely available leaves, kitchen waste etc


  • Weedkiller and insect repellents: families can make insecticides and fungicides using various kinds of leaves, banana peel, onion and garlic skins etc


  • If a family does not have space or a garden, Extra Cover will provide grow bags and relevant tools


  • Wire mesh for making fences to protect plants from animals like porcupines, large rodents and peacocks

Suggested crops for school and home vegetable gardens:

  • Herbs – kankun, gotukola (centella), thampala (amaranthus family), mukunuwenna (amaranthus family)
  • Spices – ginger, turmeric
  • Fruit – papaya, banana, sweet melons, pineapple
  • Vegetables – egg plants, tomato, okra, long beans, wing beans, sweet potato, chillies and capsicums, radish, spinach, various gourds, cucumber and winter melon, yams – manioc,  kiriala (taro)

Suggested vegetable garden initiative rules

  • Always adhere to organic cultivation practices such as planting only heirloom seeds instead of imported hybrid seeds


  • Use only organic fertilizer such as compost, cow dung, chicken manure and home-made organic sprays


  • Never to use chemical fertilizer, insecticides, fungicides or hormones normally used by commercial growers


  • Grow only vegetables and fruit that gives the yield in a short period.
Posted in Latest news.