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|HELP: Do not let them suffer in silence|
|"APE LAMAI" needs your help|
|Ape Lamai (Our Kids) is a free special school and a training center for disabled children in Sri Lanka. This one hundred percent volunteer based unique facility for retarded children is in a small village called Bothale in Gampaha district. |
Why this village is named Bothale is not clear. A literal translation of "Bothale" is Bottle. Bothale is known in Sri Lanka as the birth place of Sri Lanka's first prime minister D.S. Senanayake.
|© 2005 LankaLibrary.com|
|HELP: Do not let them suffer in silence
"Ape Lamai" - the disabled children with their volunteer staff
Vishva is the second child of D.M.Thilakarathna and M.D. Maduwanthi of Mirigama. Parents of Vishva were very disappointed when they realized that there son Vishva can not get a formal education because there are no facilities available in the whole area to help disabled children.
In Sri Lanka there are very few special education institutions to admit the disabled children and train them to be absorbed into formal education stream. There are virtually no community based early intervention services for disabled infants and young children. The disabled children in Sri Lanka have to depend on their parents or an adult in the family to support them the whole day, most of the time through the whole life.
Thilakarathna and Maduwanthi took the initiative to start their own special school, a school to teach disabled children. On 3rd of May 1999, they started a small facility to help disabled children in a deserted old school building near the railway lines at Bothale. With only 3 floor mats and some second hand items from their own house they tried to teach and train few disabled children.
Now they have more than 50 disabled children
Within few months the small special school became a day care center for more disabled children from the area.
The helpless disabled children enjoyed the school very much. Some children even refused to go home after the school. With the news spreading in the are about the new service more and more parents started bringing their disabled children to this "unofficial" special school.
Thilakarathna and Maduwanthi asked the locals for help. Some volunteered to help and the others sponsored the bills. Now there are more than 50 disabled children in the school and they are getting basic education as well as vocational training. Education and vocational training is being provided to the disabled by a volunteer staff.
"Ape Lamai" service is free. Most of these disabled children are from poor families in the area, some with total family income less than 30 US dollars per month. Generally the poor parents have to work hard to earn a living. They also give priority to education of their able off spring. Some parents even take a disabled child as a burden because of the time and energy spent on the disabled is too much for them.
At a normal school, the disabled child experience the inaccessibility of class rooms and toilets etc. Mostly the other students cannot understand the problem. In general normal school children are unaware of how to treat a child with a disability. The disabled child becomes isolated in school or bullied making his school life an unhappy experience. The child becomes a school drop out at a very early stage. Lack of proper education make it difficult for the person when grown up to find employment or to engage in some form of income generating activity.
Currently Ape Lamai school is operated and managed with little money donated by local well-wishers.
Address of the School: Mirigam Kanda, Bothale, Abepussa (near Bothale railway station)
Contact Details and Inquiries:
If you wish to financially support these children and the school, please send your contribution to the official account number of the Ape Lamai organization in the Peoples bank, Mirigama with the text "Support Ape Lami". If you make a donation please keep LankaLibrary also informed with an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Account Number: 1-65-0033832 of Peoples Bank MIRIGAMA
Currently they are more than 50 disabled in the day school and 10 of them stay overnight. More than 100 other handicapped children from the area are in the waiting list to get admitted to this facility. Both the children and the parents prefer to stay overnight. But currently they do not have facilities to keep more than 10 children. These ten children sleep on the floor in the same school building where the lessons are given during the day time. Their dream is to have a new building with proffer facilities as a hostel.
As requested by LankaLibrary New Era Children's Fund has send their local representatives to visit this school in Mirigama. After their assessment the New Era Children's Fund has agreed to provide basic requirements of the school for a period of one year. In their initial plan they will provide the school and the children with (urgently required) 1) Dry rations (for one year), 2) Medical care for the ill, 3) Occupational training equipment suitable for disabled children, 4) Clothes, 5) Books and 6) Office equipments and Stationary
Update 01 October 2005
The construction of safety wall and the entrance is now completed. The task was made possible with the financial help from The children and staff at Elim Christian Services in Chicago, USA. The management of the school and the disabled children send their appreciation and to the staff and the children of Elim Christian Services in Chicago.
Safety wall and the entrance are built with the financial help from children and staff at Elim Christian Services in Chicago
@ Photo : Dr Rohan Hettiarachchi June 2005
New Era Children's Fund has helped upgrading the toilets and the sleeping facilities of the children. Further they have decorated some walls of the building with children friendly paintings.
Paintings done by the New Era Children's Fund / @ Photo : Dr Rohan Hettiarachchi June 2005
In July 2005, children from Arthur Day Middle School in Winnipeg, Canada sent three boxes of school kits for the disabled children of Ape-Lamai school in Sri Lanka. The class teacher Ms Mary Kupchak- Collins sent an e-mail to LankaLibrary saying "There are 51 kits in total and each contains 3 notebooks, a book bag, a set of pencil crayons, pencils, eraser, ruler and pencil sharpener. We also sent a big box of pencil crayons for a teacher kit. We wish we could send more. Perhaps in the new term. Please stay in touch and send pictures if you can. The students and staff will appreciate knowing their efforts make a difference. Please let me know If writing pen pals / matching students would he a possibility. What do you see as the schools greatest needs at this time?"
The school kits were received within few weeks and the disabled children and the staff were delighted about the contents. They were very useful. The children and the staff thank the children of the Arthur Day Middle School in Winnipeg, Canada for this kind help.
Children of the Ape-Lami School / @ Photo : Dr Rohan Hettiarachchi June 2005
There is some more construction work to be done. There is a playground in the premises but it has to be cleaned and prepared. Further an access road to this playground has to be constructed. The total cost will be around 2000 USD.
The present floor of the building is cement and it is broken in several places. The floor has to be re-done with tiles. Somebody has already donated the required tiles but the school need some financial assistance to lay the available tiles.
The major challenge is to pay the staff. Currently there are about 6 teachers and all are Sri Lankans. Some of them are working on volunteer basis and the others are paid only the travel costs or a minimum amount as low as 20 USD per month. All teachers travel daily from other places by train. After few months the teachers have to leave the school because they have no financial support to survive. The school urgently needs some sponsors to support the teachers financially. A minimum recommended fee for a teacher is 50 USD per a month. Can you sponsor one or more teachers from this school? Please let us know: email@example.com
Children of the Ape-Lami School / @ Photo : Dr Rohan Hettiarachchi June 2005
Can you also help them?