Doing their bit of service for the country the Sri Lanka Girl Guide’s Association (SLGGA) has helped improve lives year after year. While some of the larger projects have received national acclaim, the association was thrilled when one of their projects conducted in the Kandy district had received international recognition.
Three years since the Olave Award was conferred to the guide company of Mahamaya Girls’ College Kandy, for their initiative to help the students of the deaf and blind school in the area, the project is still going strong. The award, named after the World Chief Guide—Olave Baden-Powell, is distributed at the World Conference that’s held every three years. The coverted award is distributed after a rigorous search for the most outstanding community service work done by a guide company that surpasses the efforts of their peers from across the world.
The Guides of Mahamaya Girls’ College Kandy were award the Olave award for their undertaking of recording text books at the Senkadagala Deaf and Blind School, Dodanwella, Kandy. The girls took on the project as the 130 students who attended the school were being hampered in their education as the brail versions of their textbooks were not made available to them.
“Mr. Prasanna Wickramasinghe, a teacher at the deaf and blind school asked us whether we could help them by converting the textbooks from Grade 6 to 11 into audio tapes,” recalls Thilini Amerasooriya, a senior guide who was involved in initiating the project. “When we started out we weren’t sure how to get about it but Mr. Wickramasinghe, helped us through it though he is visually impaired.”
Another senior Guide who was part of the initial project Yashoda Dasanayaka says “the project was a learning experience for us as well. We discovered that even though the students were differently abled they could do so much more than we could and do it even better.”
The promising 130 students of the school have benefitted significantly from the efforts of the Girl Guides. “They say they are very happy now that they can study much faster,” says Yashoda refering to the feedback the students have given her, “before this, wanting books in brail was a long wait,” she adds.
The Guides have converted not only the entire syllabus from Grade 6 to 11 but some of the teacher’s guides, since some of the teachers are visually impaired as well, in addition they’ve also made audio tapes of books in the library for the students to listen to at leisure.
“We have to update the recordings every six months,”says Thilini, explaining “they wear out fast after a few sessions of being listened to so we have to keep updating them regularly.” To counter this the Guides hope to make CD recordings though the Guides expressed regret that they could not go ahead with it at the moment as the school does not have the facilities to play CDs.
The World Association of Girl Guides and Scouts, found this project by the Girl Guides of Mahamaya Girls’ College Kandy, worthy of international recognition. This is the second time the Girl Guides Association of Sri Lanka has been awarded the Olave award, the first time being 23 -years-ago for a community service project in the Wellawatte area.