I am sorry that I haven’t been able to write to you before. Due to the fact that I was hosting my friend Herman with his friend and was showing him the orphanage that he is supporting, we were busy every day and all my time went into that, so that I could allow Rev. Jeyanesan to attend to urgent matters concerning the running of all the projects under his care. Rev. Jeyanesan had been away for about a month, visiting the US and Canada, so upon his return he had many things to attend to. Rev. Jeyanesan shared with me about his contacts with you and asked me to help him with keeping in contact with you while I am here in Sri Lanka.
If this is acceptable to you, I would like to start with giving you a report concerning the £3500 that were in fact invested in the Nutritional Feeding Program run in the Eastern Province. From these funds, according to Rev. Jeyanesan, the following centers are being supported at a cost per month of £145 per month per center:
- St. John’s Nutritional Feeding Center with 60 kids which is being run on the compound of the St. John’s Church in Batticaloa.This is the main church center from which Rev. Jeyanesan orchestrates all the various projects and which functions as his home-base.
- Kiran Nutritional Feeding Center also with 60 kids. Kiran is a village 27 km north from the St. John’s Center which was affected by the Indian peace keeping force and later by the Sri Lanka army and special task forces. Many people lost their bread winners, and so many children need help here.
- Periyanilavanai Nutritional Feeding Center has 55 kids. Periyanilavanai is a border village between moslim and hindu villages and is situated 41 kilometers south from the St. John’s Center. The villagers are mostly uneducated, low cast people. This Nutritional Feeding Center is run on a compound together with a church and the Herman’s Girls Home. These three centers have been running from the February 1st from funds provided by you. At the end of each year, you will be provided with Financial Statements audited by a Chartered Accountant. If needed also interim statements can be provided. Please let us know if you wish to have any other report. Monies will be spent solely on these three centers.
The activities going on in the Nutritional Feeding Centers are as follows:
- Feeding: the children often do not get more than once a day food. This program allows them to receive two extra meals a day
- Preventive medicines and vaccinations. The Government does not care about the proper vaccinating of the children. Our centers do provide that.
- Allowing the older children to go to school instead of having to stay at home to take care of the younger ones.
- Nursery education. The children are receiving some basic nursery education.
Please let me know if there is any other information that would be helpful for your purposes. Now I will focus on the Vocational Training Center. I will be working with someone from the current Vocational Training Center in order to prepare a proposal for you. I was made to understand by Rev. Jeyanesan, and please correct us on this, that you have a source of funding for Vocational Training. We have done some preliminary investigations and have come to an interim proposal already, which we are going to work out more and give you a completed proposal, also based on your important input.
We have currently a Vocational Training Center (VTC), where we are running for the sixth year a program where currently the following courses are being taught:
- Secretarial, Computer operation, Typing Shorthand
- Welding, gas and electric
- Electronics, repairing televisions and radios
- Electrical wiring and plumbing with motor winding
- Airconditioning and refrigeration
- Carpentry, mechanized and traditional
- Needlework and dress making
We are planning a new course on Hardware repairs.
With your help and financial assistance we would like to start four new courses that are also highly in need:
- Motor mechanics
- Laith work (as Rev. Jeyanesan calls it) In US english it is called Forging
- Printing press and Publishing.
The expected total cost of adding these four courses, including building and equipment was for now estimated by Rev. Jeyanesan at £50,000 or $80,000 US Dollars.
Since we already have hostel facilities, it seems best to expand on the current ongoing VTC project. There is still room for more students in the hostel facilities and land is available for putting the buildings of the expansion to the VTC with the four new courses next to the current ongoing VTC. Currently, we can only cater to 162 out of 1200 applicants for the available courses. This is the only non-governmental VTC in the area. There is only one other VTC which is run by the government, but it is run in a very inefficient manner.
The need, therefore, is great. Many of the children that are enjoying the courses are from our orphanage homes. Some of the students are from the rural areas, from villages affected in the past by the twenty year long civil war. I hope this gives you a bit information you can work with. Please let me know of other information which would be helpful. On this same subject, can you tell me what the chances are of getting funding for this project?
Currently, the VTC that is running is supported by the German Government. Matching funds would therefore apply here. Do you have other sources for this project or are we applying to the LCIIF for these funds? On another subject: We have been getting container loads of shoeboxes filled with Christmas presents from children in the US. They are shipped to the port of Colombo, from where we have to release them from customs.
In the past, we used to get exemption from all customs, but this year they required us to pay VAT on the whole shipment. This came to about 4500 Pound Sterling. There were 21000 shoeboxes in the shipment. The value of the contents of one shoebox was about 19 to 25 Pound Sterling. The total shipment was given to us free CIF. I have documentation for the shipment and the VAT payment.
Would it be possible that this would fall under Matching Funds? This would allow the church to fund the VAT for another year and distribute these also next Christmas. I have to tell you that it is quite thrilling to hand these boxes out to children who never have had a toy in their life. They have been handed out in the remotest villages, where poverty is the rule rather than the exception.
You should see the excitement of the whole village as a result of these gifts. Some came walking from a distance of 25 kilometers just to collect the gifts. I was there for the handing out of about 100 boxes to such children and it greatly impressed me. Thank you for your time and for allowing me to apply to you for these things. I look forward to hear from you and see what your thoughts are on the above three issues.
Joseph Vos December 2005 St John’s Church, Uranee, Batticaloa. Sri Lanka