When it rains, they say, it pours. That is what happened to Mahawilachchiya because of Horizon Lanka Foundation. Mahawilachchiya is (was) a backward village situated bordering the sprawling Wilpattu National Park. If the name of the village was mentioned anywhere else other than in Mahawilachchiya, it was because of it being constantly targeted by the Tamil Tigers terrorists from 1985 to 2009 till the permanent peace was achieved by defeating the entire terrorist outfit thanks to the political leadership of the former president Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. During the wartime, a numerous terrorist attacks were inflicted and the police, army and the civil security guards were injured, maimed or paid the ultimate price for the nation as a reason. A number of terrorists also were killed by the security forces. A considerable number of villagers also were either killed in cold blood and some were kidnapped and only a few could return by deceiving the terrorists. A several parents of our students also were either killed or kidnapped.
People of Mahawilachchiya was not connected to the outside world through a communication network and only the Police Station and the Post Office had limited telephone access using radio link technology. One had to wait a several hours to talk to someone at a very high price from the village post office.
When I started Horizon Lanka under a huge mango tree in my ancestral garden in 1998, there was no telephone coverage. I had to go to Colombo by spending almost a whole day to Colombo to just check emails and update our website. The distance from Mahawilachchiya to Colombo is 240 km but the bus ride on dilapidated road network in the country those days wore me out wasting the whole day on the road.
I had the luck of meeting Mr. Supun Weerasinghe from Dialog Axiata in 2002. He was then a young executive and now the CEO of Dialog Axiata, Sri Lanka’s leading telecommunication provider. Dialog sent a team of engineers and fixed a special unit to provide mobile coverage within a 50-meter radius around Horizon Lanka’s small computer lab. That was the only place people could use their Dialog mobile phones. Then Dialog provided 2G mobile coverage to Mahawilachchiya in November, 2006. Then came the 3G. The latest addition to the line up was comprehensive 4G coverage to Mahawilachchiya from Dialog Axiata. The specialty of this is that Mahawilachchiya hamlet got all these technologies long before even bigger towns in Sri Lanka got them. The main reason to get all these new technologies to Mahawilachchiya is the existence of the Horizon Lanka Foundation and my strong links with Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya – the regional CEO for the South Asian Region of the Axiata Group Bhd., Asia’s second largest telecommunications company and Mr. Supun Weerasinghe, the young CEO of Dialog Axiata. Dialog has been a very big pillar of our success since 2002 and I hope the relationship would be even stronger in time to come as we are an organization which depends on new technology since the inception of the small English class under a tree in 1998. Dialog Axiata PLC has assisted Horizon Lanka Foundation over the years whenever we requested their assistance. Read more about it at http://www.horizonlanka.org/en/?s=Dialog+telekom&submit=Search
I thank Mr. Nuwan Samaranayake, a Sri Lankan American living in Houston, Texas, the United States for assisting me in this quest of wider mobile coverage and stronger data speed with Dialog. I also thank the whole Dialog Axiata team for being such a friendly and effective company. Extending 4G coverage to Mahawilachchiya was not in the immediate pipelines of the company priority list but the need to livestream Horizon Lanka’s annual concert, “A Rainbow of Cultures – Horizon Lanka Mega Concert – 2017” on December 31, 2017 and the planned launch of Horizon Academy website on January 01, 2018 and most importantly, the scheduled launch of Horizon Virtual Academy project that would allow anyone from anywhere in the world access both the recorded and the live ICT and language lessons from its website free of charge (only for the year 2018 – the users will have to pay an affordable subscription fee from January 2019.)
What will be in store for Mahawilachchiya next from Dialog? Maybe 5G … … … ?
Nanda Wanninayaka – Chairman & the CEO of Horizon Lanka Foundation
Students of Horizon Academy – Mahawilachchiya held its annual concert, “A Rainbow of Cultures” – Horizon Lanka Mega Concert – 2016 on November 4th last year to coincide it with Ms. Greta Suffys’ birthday. She has been visiting Horizon Lanka Foundation since 2002, even during the height of the Civil War that did not spare our village, Mahawilachchiya from the Tamil Tigers terrorist attacks. Ms. Greta and the family has helped Horizon Lanka since 2002. The Belgian tourists who visited us with her also contributed to Horizon Lanka Foundation financially.
Ms. Greta’s birthday fell on November 3 and she visited Horizon Lanka with a group of tourists from Belgium on the 4th. We arranged 17 dance items to be entertain Ms. Greta, her husband Peter and the group of Belgium tourists. Ms. Greta Suffys is the CEO of Horizon Select travel company in Belgium.
We have received the images and the videos done by the team of photographers and the videographers lead by Mr. Ruwan Nandika.
These are the images captured during the concert.
These videos are just unedited video clips taken from three different cameras and we will produce the professionally edited version by combining these video clips later. Till that, just enjoy the raw footages.
Horizon Lanka Foundation started its fifth Horizon Academy branch, this time in Ralapanawa, Nochchiyagama on December 01, 2017. At Horizon Academy we teach 5 languages, i.e., English, Spanish, German, French and Japanese depending on the availability of foreign volunteers who speak those languages. We also teach ICT, IoT and Robotics as our main subjects. In addition to these subjects, we also teach Fine Arts and Sports to break the monotony of the students. We also pay our attention to personal development also.
Those who wish to join please call Ms. Nadeeka Kumarasingha (an intern) at email@example.com or on 071-8705428 or Mr. Rohana Kumarasingha (Manager) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0713902542. The Address is Horizon Academy, Farm Junction, Ralapanawa, Nochchiyagama, Sri Lanka.
We charge only 500 LKR (3.25 USD) per month for all these subjects. We have both local and foreign teachers to teach these subjects at the Academy. Students will be rewarded with stationary, school supplies, computer related equipment, etc. after evaluating their performances.
The parents of the students will be given free English and ICT training on Sundays from 8.00 am to 12.00 noon.
So, please help us. You can either contact me through mobile phone on 0094 7777 02678 or 0094 7185 08537 or at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you need our bank details. Or you can simply donate with your credit card through our crowdfunding campaign at https://www.generosity.com/education-fundraising/empowering-children-in-rural-sri-lanka.
We have two brand new laptop computers donated by Mr. Vidhura Ralapanawa of MAS Group, Sri Lanka. These are the only computer equipment we have. We need more equipment and services.
Nanda Wanninayaka, Founder, Horizon Lanka Foundation