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SOS Malta assists in Sri Lanka school rebuilding

Posted Date: 11/02/2005

SOS Malta has donated $8,000 to St Mary's Convent in Matara, Sri Lanka which was damaged by the Boxing Day tsunami.

The money is being used for urgently needed repairs on the groundfloor of the school especially windows and doors.

Many of the 2,500 children attending the school lost parents, family and friends in the tsunami and many more are now homeless.

SOS Malta said that although the children are slowly beginning to return to their school, the fear in their eyes is all too plain to see. 'This often gets worse when frequent rumours, warning that another tsunami is on the way, cause pandemonium through Matara. When you consider that the school is less than 20 metres from the beach you can understand the real fear and uncertainty of parents who drop their children off in the morning after having witnessed the scenes on December 26," SOS Malta said.

The Sri Lankan government has now passed a law prohibiting public buildings or schools being built within 100 metres from the sea. This means that St Mary's Convent will have to be rebuilt.

The convent's board of governors is thus seeking the collaboration and cooperation of all donor organisations, schools and the community at large to help rebuild the school further away from the ocean.

The convent was founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1908. The congregation initially arrived in Galle on the southern coast of Sri Lanka and founded the first school there, named Sacred Heart Convent, in 1896.

In 1908 the Sisters of Charity went to Matara, a town on the coast about 28 miles south of Galle. They were welcomed by the people of Matara with open arms and founded St Mary's Convent that same year. The beginnings were small, admitting 20 students and 10 orphans brought from Galle.

The aim of the school is to impart an individual education based on Christian principles, providing students with comprehensive educational opportunities to prepare young people for responsible community involvement and careers to suit their interests and skills.

Since the beginning of the school, nearly 100 years ago, it has developed in size, however maintaining a high quality of education with many foreign and local sisters taking an active part in the teaching of the students.

Today the school is classified as a government assisted institution with 60 per cent of the teachers' salaries being paid by the government of Sri Lanka. The school is a great service to the multi-faith community of Matara.

The needs of the school are now great. Financial assistance is required to buy a plot of land to rebuild the school. Furthermore, expert planning advisors, volunteers to aid in the construction process and assistance in purchasing the school equipment are required too.

SOS Malta said individuals can help by providing support and sustenance for the least financially-able schoolchildren, such as $30 a month, twinning with St Mary's, setting up communication channels and starting pen-pal friendships with St Mary's students.

Source: Times of Malta



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