A tsunami-affected villa in Seenigama, Galle, has become the centre of development with many sectors of empowerment including education and entrepreneurship.
The most recent development has been an IT-BPO set up by FARO with the support of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) through IT-BPO projects initiated by ICTA.
In the face of disaster some give into despondency while some rise up to be more successful than during the pre-disaster era. What then makes the difference? Kushil Gunasekera, the founder of the Foundation of Goodness (FoG) and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Centre of Excellence at Temple Road, Seenigama explained the root cause of the villa becoming a community centre of prosperity: “It is compassion and desire to be good. I got my education from Ananda College, Colombo and I had access to modern facilities. I was moved by compassion and a desire to be good and to do something to make distressed people enjoy the blessings that were available to me but not to them.”
Speaking further about how the MCC Centre of Excellence came about after the destruction on 26 December 2004, Gunasekera said: “This compassion resulted in the ‘Lahiru’ villa of my parents being altered into the centre of excellence with the generosity of the MCC in the UK.”
Goodness, they say is contagious and just as birds of a feather flock together, Kushil has teamed up with Muttaiah Muralitharan, Rohan Iriyagolla, Ashan Malalasekara and Kumar Sangakkara in the rebuilding of the country from a selected village.
Many donors have contributed to the uplift of the disadvantaged. Set up in 1999 the FoG is a source of life annually for about 30,000 people providing training in 30 different empowerment sectors, free of charge, Sector Manager Fazana Ibrahim said.
Currently in addition to courses in English and Tamil, IT courses are given to about 30 students in the morning and to an equal number in the afternoon. A senior ICTA spokesman said: “At the MCC Centre of Excellence, in the classroom downstairs children learn about computer applications and in the room upstairs they earn using computer applications.”
At the moment computer courses in the downstairs classroom of the MCC Centre includes MS Office, graphic designing, web designing and software development and the clients by the IT-BPO include John Keells, Sri Lanka and Artbank International, USA.
The young school-leavers who staff the IT-BPO travel from their homes. As such they get a tidy sum as their emolument for thus working in the IT-BPO sector. What more? They also have time to be part of the Government’s development programmes for winning the economic war, making Sri Lanka the ‘Wonder of Asia’ not only through economic prosperity but also by upholding the cultural values of rural Sri Lanka.
Already the fruits of the FoG are visible. School leavers who would otherwise have taken to coral mining do not take resort to the former profession that was detrimental to environment. More projects including ‘the village heartbeat’ project have struck root. An example is the first village heartbeat opened in 2007 in Udumulla, a small and poverty-stricken rural village near Hikkaduwa.
“Extending the village Heartbeat network will unlock the currently restricted potential of so many brilliant, talented students and community members in poor regions,” said Gunasekera, who finds the time to be in the village contributing to rural development while doing the duties of his position as manager mainly operating from Colombo for the veteran cricketer Murali.