A stroke of good luck for little ones
For Sumithra Jayamaha and her nine-year-old daughter, the ordeal of the two-hour long journey from home to the primary school in Bogaswewa is now behind them. They are no longer at the mercy of the irregular bus service which was the only alternative to a bicycle ride from their village in Weherathenna in the Vavuniya district to the nearest school. âPin siddawenawaâ is all Sumithra could utter, about the new primary school, the Weherathenna village is now blessed with.
âI had to take my daughter to a school in Bogaswewa. It was nearly 4 p.m. when we returned home everyday. The new school is only one km away for us and we are indebted to the generosity of Roshan Mahanama and the SL Army for making this a reality for our community.â
Named after the star cricketer and international cricket referee, Roshan Mahanama, the primary school in Weherathenna is yet another âsilentâ act of magnanimity by the sportsman and a few of his friends who joined hands in the worthy cause. Roshan who set up âPiyawara Pre Schoolâ in the same locality a few years ago filling the void of a preschool in the area, once again has pledged his goodwill for the betterment of underprivileged children in the country.
âThe Sri Lankan Army made a request for the establishment of a primary school in Weherathenna and I was happy to oblige along with some of my Melbourne-based friends and another close friend from Dubai,â says Roshan who lauds the troops of the 26 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (SLSR) 62 Division, commanded by Major General B.H.M.A Wijesinghe, for their engineering and labour assistance in the construction of the school. Roshan spurns the media spotlight observing with a smile that âsocial service should not be an exception but a norm.â He is only humbled that a collective effort had borne fruit today.
The school which was officially opened a few weeks ago with its first batch of 44 students, has five classrooms from Grade one to five and is headed by Principal, T.D.A. Krishantha Kumara Jayasuriya and four more teachers. The official opening was also graced by Commander, Security Forces, Wanni, Major General Ruwan Kulatunga, GOC, 62 Division, Major General B.H.M.A. Wijesinghe, Brigade Commanders and the Director of Zonal Education.
Having worked for 16 years as a school teacher, last serving Etambagasgoda Junior School in Vavuniya, this is Mr. Jayasuriyaâs first appointment as a Principal. âThis is my greatest achievement,â says Mr. Jayasuriya who is encouraged together with his committed staff to turn challenges which lie ahead of them into lifeâs unforgettable lessons. Weherathenna, as Mr. Jayasuriya explains, is the furthermost point in Vavuniya which is 42 km from the town and the closest school until the new Primary School was at least 7-8 km away. âChildren had to go either to Bogaswewa or Buddhangala and with only one bus operating along the route, it was not easy for them. During the rainy season when the Padaviya tank overflowed, it was impossible for children to commute.â
The young Principalâs energy is matched by the four teachers and the eager parents. Boarding the bus which leaves at 5.30 in the morning to reach school on time, Mr. Jayasuriya plays the dual roles of Principal and Grade 5 teacher of the school. âWhat we are doing is not easy, but we are content,â says the enthusiastic educationist who walks his talk.
W.G. Priyadarshani, the teacher in charge of the Piyawara Pre School which stands in the same compound proudly handed over 15 of her youngsters to Roshan Mahanama Primary School a few weeks back. âIn 2014 Mr. Mahanama started the project to set up the pre-school which spared the young children and their parents of the gruelling journey to the closest facility about 7 km away. When the Padaviya tank overflowed, it was a nightmare. We are grateful to the Wanni Division Army authorities for joining hands with Mr. Mahanama for fulfilling the dream of a primary school for our children,â says Priyadarshani.
Calling the new school a âgemâ to nurture, she notes that it serves children from four more villages, apart from Weherathenna. Children from Weherawewa, Kohombagaswewa, Konwewa and Kambili Wewa could also access the school.The school which is yet to receive electricity will largely benefit from a âmotorâ which could pump water, says Priyadarshani who notes that presently the water is sourced from a tube well.
In an era where âWhite Boardsâ and âLaptopsâ are basic necessities for privileged halls of learning, the staff of this âhappy little schoolâ is grateful for a âbox of white chalkâ and a âlibrary of 350 booksâ, reminding one of the words of the visionary educationist, Maria Montessori : âwe are the sowers- our children are those who reap. We labour so that future generations will be better and nobler than we are.â