Help Little Mihili, a Sri Lankan Girl Stranded in Italy Continue Her Education

Help Little Mihili, a Sri Lankan Girl Stranded in Italy Continue Her Education

Sri Lanka born 10-year-old Mihili Perera migrated to Italy (May, 2019) with her parents as her dad was awarded a Fellowship (Policy leader from European University Institute, School of Transnational Governance, Florence) in Italy. Mihili was admitted to an Italian school called “L. Casini” in Pian di Mugnone, Fiasole in September 2019 and she continued her education extremely well even though she was educated in Sri Lankan local language, Sinhala while she was in Sri Lanka. She mastered English in no time with her graduate father’s support and also thanks to YouTube English video clips. Now she even teaches a group of Sri Lankan students of newly started Horizon Academy in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka via an online software called Zoom.

Most of Mihili’s “students” from Kurunegala are even older than her. But she is very creative and resourceful and manages the bunch of kids older by paying individual attention to every one of them. (Even this is hard for professional teachers as many tend to go ahead with smarter kids automatically.) Mihili does this almost every evening and the kids from here are improving English very fast as a result.

Now to the adventure side of the story. As Mihili’s dad lost the income with the fellowship period being expired and no way to either work or return to Sri Lanka due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mihili is struggling to meet her academic expenses. A friend of her father has set up a crowdfunding campaign and we request you to chip in help achieving the fundraising goal. (Please visit the link Help Nirro’s family -Supporta la famiglia di Nirro to contribute to Mihili’s educational expenses.)

Mihili’s father, Nirosion S. Perera was also a staff member of the Horizon Lanka Foundation in Sri Lanka and he is still working for us as a volunteer from Italy. So, we hope you would help the family as it is also helping the kids of the Horizon Academy in Sri Lanka.

Horizon BPO – Providing Jobs for Rural Sri Lankan Youth

Horizon BPO – Providing Jobs for Rural Sri Lankan Youth

Maniyanthoddam is a small fishing village close to Jaffna in Nallur Divisional Secretariat Division and its inhabitants lead just a hand to mouth existence. The underprivileged villagers who had faced the brunt of the thirty-year-long Civil War that raged along the Jaffna peninsula and left most of their houses razed to the ground, are always wondering where their next meal is coming from and a good education for their kids is merely a luxury too exorbitant even to dream about. Many youngsters leave school just after or even during the middle school to join their fishermen fathers in the battle for life in the rough seas.

Even though things are slowly getting back to normal with the restoration of peace after the end of the bitter war, poverty lingers hauntingly behind denying them of many basic needs such as education and jobs for the youth. 

Reverend Father Santhiapillai Sebastian

It is to such a desolate place Reverend Father Santhiapillai Sebastian brings love and hope through his mission to eradicate poverty and provide proper education to the village kids with the assistance of Horizon Lanka Foundation (HLF.) Father Sebastian, riding his bike all around the village serves the community as best as he can, without limiting his love and generosity to his own congregation.

Father Sebastian with some of the students of Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam

Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam was established in the year 2018 with generous support from local and foreign volunteers.  Quite a number of foreign volunteers have offered their services in teaching the village kids and youth English, IT, sports and fine arts.  The deprived but smart kids have shown their talents in learning fast and persevering to excel in both studies and extra-curricular activities.

Horizon Lanka Foundation (HLF), founded in 1998 in Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka by a young and innovative teacher, Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka – who prefers to identify himself a coach, an artist and a social entrepreneur; all of which he is, of course – has a lot of experience and expertise in managing community development projects and has provided consultancy to many other organizations and even Sri Lankan government in the best practices and proper management in such ventures.  The HLF has accumulated a lot of ardent fans, well-wishers and supporters both in Sri Lanka and overseas who provide financial, material and service level support and assistance.

BISTEC Global’s CEO, Mr. Johann De Cruz is a longtime supporter and admirer of Horizon Lanka who went an extra mile to provide BPO job opportunities for past students of Horizon Academies through their CSR activities. Recently BISTEC entrusted Horizon Lanka with a Data Extraction Project based on Google Maps.  Currently 10 Horizon Lanka past students are working on the project guided by Horizon Lanka’s former Model e-Village Project Manager, Mr. Ranjith Gunarathne who rejoined as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the HLF, especially to lead its BPO wing.  BISTEC is quite happy with the performance so far and they are planning to extend the BPO work by adding a couple of new projects for which Horizon BPO is eagerly awaiting with high hopes of a long and mutually rewarding relationship.

Ranjith Gunarathne training the youths at Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna

To appreciate and recognize Father Sebastian’s hard work and commitment to the children and the youth in the area the HLF decided to start the BISTEC-supported BPO project at Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna. The performance of the youths there are amazingly satisfactory in the BPO work assigned.

The Horizon Lanka Foundation expects to extend the BPO work opportunities to all its 10 Horizon Academies in Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya, Jaffna, Ampara, Kandy and Kurunegala districts in the coming months.

Other clients also are encouraged to contact us if they have BPO work to be given to the youth in the above districts where Horizon Academies operate.

Contact us on | Mobile and WhatsApp 0094-777702678

Shanika Sudarshanage – Profile

Shanika Sudarshanage – Profile

Twenty-year-old Miss Shanika Sudarshanage was an alumna of Horizon Academy – Anuradhapura. She is the elder in a family of two girls. Her father is a retired army officer and her mother is a teacher. Shanika’s parents are well educated and very supportive of her higher education, she gained many opportunities since she was a child.

When young Shanika (then fourteen years old) was selected by Horizon Lanka Foundation to represent Sri Lanka at the “World Toilet Day” Festival organized by Sulabh International in New Delhi, India in 2014, her parents were confident enough that Shanika could take up the challenge, even though it was her first trip overseas. She was accompanied by a female teacher from Horizon Academy – Anuradhapura. Shanika not only did her part at this event very well, but also won the second place of the online competition held by the organizers at this event and was gifted a brand new laptop computer and a cash price of over 100,000 INR. 

Shanika had the opportunity of meeting Mr Sudarshana
, the then Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India. She
sacrificed a visit to the “Taj Mahal” in Agra to meet with the High
Commissioner as she was intrigued meeting high profile people even at that age.
(You will realize why. when you read this article to the end). She obtained the
maximum exposure & benefits of the tour and it was a wonderful opportunity
to enhance Shanika’s life. Shanika made many a friend from South Asian
countries during the event, with whom she is still in touch.  

Shanika Sudarshanage

With the experience that Shanika had from the Indian tour, and also with her fondness for India, she chose the Hindi language as a subject for her GCE Ordinary Level examination and obtained an ‘A’ for Hindi. Moreover, she did her Advanced level in the Arts Stream and obtained a ‘B’ for Logic and a ‘C’ for English and French languages, which is very creditable.

Shanika also took part in many extracurricular activities while at school, was a Sergeant of the schools National Cadet Corps, excelled in sports such as Netball, Handball and Chess. 

Shanika also taught English Literature for three months in one of the well-known private schools in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, with her keen interest in languages and foreign relations, she is currently pursuing a six-month course in International Relations along with a Chinese language course, until she gets into the university. She has already been selected to the university. (Getting the entrance to a university in Sri Lanka is extremely difficult as it is very competitive.)

Any idea as to why Shanika took the French language as a subject? Well, she states that she wishes to be a career diplomat and eventually become the Secretary-General of the United Nations someday. Horizon Lanka Foundation is happy to assist her further education and professional development as well. The rest, we believe, is up to her. (Watch the video below to hear it from her own voice.)

L’effet Libellule Project Holds a Workshop in Horizon Academy – Panama, Sri Lanka – French

L’effet Libellule Project Holds a Workshop in Horizon Academy – Panama, Sri Lanka – French

Ms. Camille Bertrand, Co-Founder of L’effet Libellule, France held a workshop on environmental studies at the Horizon Academy – Panama in Ampara district, Sri Lanka. The workshop was held on September 7, 8 in 2019. Around 15 kids between the ages of 8 to 12 participated in the workshop. Mr. Priyantha Pushpakumara, the Coordinator of Horizon Academy – Panama coordinated the event while Sohan Fernando, an intern of Horizon Lanka Foundation did the interpreting. We thank L’effet Libellule for holding the workshop with us.

To read the report by Camille Bertrand in French visit

Sohan Fernando, the interpreter working with the kids

Pictures taken during the workshop

L’effet Libellule Project Holds a Workshop in Horizon Academy – Panama, Sri Lanka – English

L’effet Libellule Project Holds a Workshop in Horizon Academy – Panama, Sri Lanka – English

Ms. Camille Bertrand, Co-Founder of L’effet Libellule, France held a workshop on environmental studies at the Horizon Academy – Panama in Ampara district, Sri Lanka. The workshop was held on September 7, 8 in 2019. Around 15 kids between the ages of 8 to 12 participated in the workshop. Mr. Priyantha Pushpakumara, the Coordinator of Horizon Academy – Panama coordinated the event while Sohan Fernando, an intern of Horizon Lanka Foundation did the interpreting. We thank L’effet Libellule for holding the workshop with us.

To read the report by Camille Bertrand in English visit

Sohan Fernando, the interpreter working with the kids

A New English Teacher for Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Jaffna

A New English Teacher for Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Jaffna

Horizon Lanka Foundation was looking for a young woman to teach English in its Horizon Academy branch in Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Jaffna. Kids here were very lucky when we were able to find Miss Anne Mariyathas, a 19-year-old girl who is sitting for London Advanced Level this year. She attends an international school in Jaffna. When asked if she has enough time to dedicate herself for teaching English while she is getting ready for the exam, a very confident Anne said, “Don’t worry. I am confident enough to face the AL exam while teaching. I already do it at home with the kids live around my home. Teaching English gives me more happiness and peace of mind to do my studies too.”

Anne teaching the kids at Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam

So, we hired Anne from the first week of January 2020. Now she teaches two hours of English on Tuesdays and Thursdays during weekdays and 8 hours on Saturdays. She says she can do some extra hours of teaching during public school vacations.

Anne has a very good command of English. And she comes well-organized for the lessons. Kids also like her very much. She also says if she can use more technology (like a laptop and a multimedia projector,) she can teach even better.

Kids happily learning English from Miss Anne

Daniel Burger Moya and Paula Sánchez González – Spain

Daniel Burger Moya and Paula Sánchez González – Spain
Daniel and Paula with the host family

Mr. Daniel Burger Moya and Ms. Paula Sánchez González from Spain volunteered at Horizon Academy – Werapitiya, Kandy operated by Horizon Lanka Foundation in August 2019

Our experiences in Sri Lanka

We volunteered about 2 weeks, from 16th August 2019 till the 2nd of September 2019, in a town near Kandy with an amazing host family teaching the kids near the town some English and some other practical skills.

About the town, it is near Werapitiya, Kandy. It’s an amazing place, so much nature and so much to visit there. The host family took us with their tuk tuk to waterfalls, rivers, mountains and everything surrounded by tea plantations. It’s a truly magical place.

Paula Sánchez González teaching the class

The host family was also incredible; their warm welcome was really something. They cooked for us very different and delicious food, I think we gained 10 kilos in our 2 weeks there. They gave us a really nice room, always were on handy to make a trip with us, talk, play some card games at night, explain to us their culture, etc. It was wonderful.

The Horizon Academy was sadly closed, and nobody warned us about this, I think this was the main problem. Vajira organized our host family and our stay. He is a tour guide and knew a lot about Sri Lanka, spoke also Spanish, however, we just saw him once in 2 weeks. Sadly, the local school was closed at the time we arrived. Actually, Vajira knew very little about the school and the town, so the organization could be done better.

With this problem, the family (and not Vajira) organized some teaching in their home or in the Buddhist temple with the kids, from 5 to 22 years old, from the town, but some days we didn’t know what to do. Because of the age difference and without any guidelines, it wasn’t quite easy to teach them. Despite this inconvenience, the kids really want to learn anything and are very curious about different cultures, so it was fun and enjoyable to teach/play with them.

After this time together, we had to say goodbye to all these great people, we traveled for two weeks in Sri Lanka. This was an amazing experience. Sri Lanka is a very beautiful country and, as said before, people are very kind and helpful. We can enjoy cultural and historical places, like mountains with tea plantations with nice landscapes and good hiking, as beautiful beaches to relax and swim!

To conclude, we would like to say we really recommend this experience, the people of Sri Lanka are really kind and the country has so much different nature and culture. Our volunteering experience was great, despite the school problem, the experience was fantastic and we are really thankful.

Answer from Nanda Wanninayaka, the Chairman of Horizon Lanka Foundation

Dear Dan and Paula,

I read your very interesting report and I am glad that you had mentioned both positive and negative remarks. Also, I apologize for the negative aspects. In fact, it was my fault than Vajira’s. I was expected to visit the village and make the right connections with the public schools, Sunday schools in temples, etc. But I fell ill a couple of times last year and this prevented me from doing so. I have not visited this village at least once as of yet. So, I will visit this village next week with Vajira and then meet the students, school principals, teachers, villagers, etc. and then explain what we do through Horizon Academy.

Yes, it was the public school vacation while you were in Werapitiya but usually, in other Horizon Academies, more students come to us during vacations. If I visited the village earlier, I could have easily arranged that.

Nanda Wanninayaka

Sashini Premarathna – Profile

Sashini Premarathna – Profile

Fourteen-year-old Sashini Premarathna is a young girl who grew up in the rural village of Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura.  She is the eldest child of a family of two children, which means she has many responsibilities on her shoulders. Her mother works as a laborer in a nearby shop and is the only breadwinner of the family. Still, she is determined to educate her son and daughter.

Sashini is in Grade 9 at the Horizon Academy – Mahawilachchiya which is a supplementary educational institute.  Here she studies English, ICT, fine arts and sports. She attends Gamini Public School as her regular school. Sashini is the first at every term test in her class and keeps maintaining her standards however much the obstacles would try to pull her down.

Sashini is very good at singing and dancing. Her dancing team from her public school won first place in the Anuradhapura Zonal dancing completion and won second place from the district level. She hopes to become a dance teacher in the future.

Sashini in her garden

ICT Teaching Starts at Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna

ICT Teaching Starts at Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna

Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam was ceremonially opened on May 20, 2018. Since then, many foreign volunteers taught English to the children here. What it was lacking was the ICT education.

When three female students, Nimanditha Disanayaka, Prabodha Kalotuwawa, and Pramodhya Gunarathna from Horizon Academy – Mahawilachchiya came for the Opening Ceremony of the Maniyanthoddam branch of the Horizon Academy, they immediately became the best of friends of the kids in here and felt very sorry to see that the kids here did not have computers. So, they proposed that the 5 Dialog WinPad computers donated to the Horizon Lanka Foundation by the Country Music Foundation some time ago be sent to the kids here for them to learn computers.

But then came the problem of repairing the WinPad tabs. Since all 5 of them needed some repair work, it cost somewhere around a total of 10,000 LKR. So, they were at the repairers for more than a year. But when this was disclosed over the social media of the Horizon Lanka Foundation, within less than 10 minutes, two generous donors from the United States of America, Mr. Lalith (Asela) Ratnayake and Mr. Buddika Gajapala, both Sri Lankan Americans donated 100 USD and 60 USD respectively to the Foundation. The money was sufficient for repairing all 5 tabs and also repair some more PCs of the Foundation that need to be repaired.

Kids using repaired laptops

Kirushalini Francis – Profile

Kirushalini Francis – Profile

Fourteen-year-old Kirushalini Francis is from the fishing village of Maniyanthoddam in Nallur DS Division in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. She is the youngest child in her family of 4 siblings. Her father is a fisherman who goes fishing in someone else’s boat and gets a meager daily income. Her mother is a housewife. Kirushalini has two older sisters and one older brother. She studies English and ICT at Horizon Academy and attends Holy Family Convent, Jaffna (a public school) for formal education.

Kirushalini Francis

Kirushalini has an amazing talent as a dancer, singer and organ player. She sings in any language if you provide her Romanized lyrics. She plays the organ for her church choir. If you watch her dancing, you would be surprised by the way she imitates any professional dancer’s steps and dance moves. She is good at her own choreography too. You can watch her dancing in these two video clips attached to this memorandum. Here she is dancing to a song sung by the present-day Bollywood singing sensation Shreya Ghoshal for the movie Guru. The original dance was performed for the song by none other than the former Miss World, an electrifying actress Aishwarya Rai.  Little Kirushalini imitated the steps in no time and also added some of her own steps to add spice to the beauty queen’s dance. (In the video, the song is sung by two teenage girls at Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam over the voice and the soundtrack of the original song composed by the Academy Award-winning Indian maestro A. R. Rahman.)

Having seen Horizon Academy kids’ dancing talents on Facebook and YouTube, the organizers of the Annual Prize Giving 2018, the Rotaract Club of Jaffna Peninsula invited some girls from Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam to perform a dance item to entertain the crowd. These three kids, Kayalvili, Kirushalini and Vanmathi (11, 12, 11) immediately took the challenge and performed this dance on the stage. These young girls are so confident now they would perform even before a crowd of thousands of people. (See the video recorded at the event below.)

Though small in stature for a fourteen-year-old, Kirushalini is a pretty good athlete too. Whatever sports she takes part in, be it cricket, soccer, volleyball or any other sport, she is a very keen and a smart player. She mostly uses her brain than brawn in the execution of her smart moves in any sport that she takes part in. 

Kirushalini Playing Electronic Organ at the Church

The only other student I can recall who can match little Kirushalini’s kind of talent, in my 21-year-old teaching career was Ms. Radhika Rajapaksha, who I met when she was just a 9-year-old child, who later became one of the smartest students of Horizon Academy – Mahawilachchiya in Anuradhapura district. Radhika is now a qualified English language teacher who is reading for a bachelor’s degree in arts as an external student in a leading university in Sri Lanka. Radhika too as a child was adept in all fields that little Kirushalini is good at. I hope Kirushalini would reach even higher status academically in the future.

Kirushalini singing with her friends at the singing practices for the church choir

At present, her ambition is to become a dance teacher, but with her natural talents, I would say, the “sky is the limit” for her. Good luck, Kirushalini with your endeavors academically and aesthetically for the future. Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam will be behind you to see you grow up to your full potential and be a role model to the rest of the students. We will do our best to help you achieve your dreams for the future. 

Nanda Wanninayaka – Chairman – Horizon Lanka Foundation