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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Educate a Child Trust (EACT)

Educate a Child Trust (EACT) is the brainchild of one of the most distinguished members of our batch - Pramilla Kannangara Senanayake. Pram (as she is fondly called) is a distinguished Public Health Physician who continues to raise funds and runs a project to educate poor children in the fishing villages of Southern Sri Lanka. It is called the Educate a Child Trust (EACT) project presently being implemented in Dediyawala village for the tsunami affected people.
 As the Assistant Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) from which position she retired a few years ago, she had responsibility not only for medical programmes, but also for IPPF’s AIDS, Safe Motherhood and Youth and Adolescent Program. She was awarded an honorary FACOG in 2006 for her work in Reproductive Health. She has also been awarded the FRCOG and the FSLCOG from the UK & Sri Lankan Colleges respectively
Her most recent fund raising event took place on August 3rd, 2011.
The third of August was a very special day.  850 of the poorest children in Kalutara were eagerly waiting for the outcome of the evening.  Some were thinking “Will we be able to go to school next year”?  “Will we be able to get our shoes, uniforms, pens, exercise books etc. so we can attend school”?  Others were anxious to attend after school classes in English and computer lessons.  “Will the classes continue”?  “Will we be able to have the excellent teachers who have so far taught us”? “Will we be able to continue the special tuition classes before we sit our A levels or O level examinations”?
On the 3rd August in the Ivy room of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel some 120 philanthropists gathered. They were there to pledge their support to the Educate a Child Trust, and for a chance to personally meet some of the wonderful children that have been given an opportunity to learn and grow through the project. The Educate a child Trust was set up by Dr Pramilla Senanayake in 1984. The trust now provides;
1.       Necessary wherewithal for 850  children in the Kalutara District  to  attend local schools in  Kalutara area.(The Trust provides shoes, uniforms, school bags, writing books, pens, pencils, paints, boxes of mathematical instruments etc)
2.        Extra tuition classes for promising students
3.        English and IT classes at the Trust’s Community Centre.
4.       Nutritious meals for children attending classes at the community centre
5.       A health clinic which takes care of the health needs of the children and adults.
The overhead costs of the project are in the region of 8%. In spite of this the running costs of the project are in the region of Rs 650,000. The reception was to launch this fund.  Sponsors could choose to become platinum sponsors (by making a one-off donation of Rs 500,000), gold by donation of Rs 200,000 and silver by donating Rs 100,000). In return, the sponsor would be able to sponsor individual children, visit the project, and be proud of the take ownership of the successes of the project. For example, some 15,000 children have passed through the project. Some are at university, one child is at medical school, and 20 have qualified as chartered accountants. One child has graduated with a BSc in nursing. The photo shows some of the sponsors.
The event attracted some of Sri Lanka’s elite, true givers and supporters of good causes.  Amongst them were Nihal and Shirani Thenabadu, Lilamani and Gnanissara, Thilak and Sunila De Zoysa, Rohini and Nihal Jayamanna, Padma Maharaja, Priyanthi Fernando, Anoma and Hemaka Amarasuriya, Priyan Senanayake, Mike and Dilani Russell, Haadia Galey, Anusha David, Hussein Esufally, Sarath Kahawewitharana, Surani Taleyratne, Emmanuel and Lawrence, Thushara Agus, Ranee Brennan, Chandran and Nihara Ratnam, Mangala and Gnana Moonesinghe,  Avanti Esufally, SK Wickremasinghe, Nalin and Ruwani Karunaratne, Kisani and Gerald, Singha & Mala Weerasekera and Ruki Wickremasinghe. In addition, Munir Samji  a Trustee of the UK EACT came over especially for the launch. He was accompanied by his beautiful wife Farah.
 The invitation to the event was in the form of an exercise book designed by courtesy of Leo Burnett. The invitee was asked to write a message of encouragement to a child and to bring the book to the event.  The books will ultimately be given to deserving children.   Some of the messages were well thought through and were very moving.  Guests were provided a sumptuous buffet by courtesy of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.  The very well-known flutist Thilanka Jayamanna entertained the guests.  So did Dilani David. They were both accompanied by Sureka Amerasinghe on piano. It will be re-launched  in September in the UK.  For those who may not be able to get to one of the launches, a viral video produced courtesy of Leo Burnett was screened. The idea is to send the video by e-mail around the world, so that those interested in becoming a sponsor could do so by e-mailing Dr Senanayake at psen13@

Gnanissara and his wife Lilamani with guests

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