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 info@horizonlanka.org | Mobile and WhatsApp 0094-777702678

Coding for Children with Mr. Tjerand Silde

Prabodha Sandeepani Kalotuwawa

Prabodha Sandeepani Kalotuwawa

Mr. Johann De Cruz of Tiqri, Colombo, Sri Lanka is known to Horizon Lanka since some time. Tiqri is involved in a new program called “Coding for Children.” They do it with the Norwegian government. Mr. Tjerand Silde, a computer programmer from Norway visited Sri Lanka in February, 2017. He visited Horizon Lanka on February 02, 2017. He did a wonderful workshop for our students till the late into the night. He brought a micro:bit unit and did a demonstration as how to use it.

He used Scratch to teach programming to us. It is a good tool for understanding the logic of programming. He also taught HTML to make web pages. In Norway, their projects can be accessed at www.oppgaver.kidsakoder.no. There are communities in Sri Lanka like this now. Visit http://www.microbitslug.com. They even have a Sinhala microbit editor https://pxt.microbit.org/beta?livelang=si-LK

Here is a list of great resources for learning how to code:

At studio.code.org there is a lot of interactive projects designed for beginners. All of them are online, but some of them are also available for downloading and installing offline as well. For example:

https://studio.code.org/download/mc

https://studio.code.org/download/starwars

https://scratch.mit.edu/ is created for teaching kids how to code.

instructions: https://codeclubprojects.org/en-GB/ (also other languages)

offline: https://scratch.mit.edu/scratch2download/ 

http://microbit.org/ is great, but then you need a microbit (a microcontroller) to actually execute the code physically.

https://www.codecademy.com/ and https://www.khanacademy.org/ are great if you have internet access.

download python from https://www.python.org/downloads/ and use the IDLE-editor if you want to learn python. Teaching it starting with the turtle library and program turtles on the screen to go around with commands like “forward()”, “left()”, “right()”, etc. for example by following this instruction: https://codeclubprojects.org/en-GB/python/

Ashen Chandoopa Wijewickrama – ashen@horizonlanka.org Grade 8, Horizon Lanka Academy

Tharaka Kahduwa helping the children.
Tharaka Kahduwa helping the children.
Tharaka Kahduwa helping the children.
Tharaka Kahduwa helping the children.
Horizon Lanka children with Matthew Roy
Horizon Lanka children with Matthew Roy
Surendra with Tjerand Silde and Matthew Roy
Surendra with Tjerand Silde and Matthew Roy
jerand Silde doing the workshop
jerand Silde doing the workshop
Surendra with Tjerand Silde
Surendra with Tjerand Silde
Mr. Sisira Rathnayaka and Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka
Mr. Sisira Rathnayaka and Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka
Prbodha Sandeepani Kalotuwawa and Ashen Chandoopa Wijewickrama
Prbodha Sandeepani Kalotuwawa and Ashen Chandoopa Wijewickrama

Two Months of IT Training at Eurocenter DDC, Colombo

Ruvini, Iresha and Radhika
Ruvini, Iresha and Radhika

Radhika Nilupulee Rajapaksha –  Jan 9, 2008

It was my good fortune to have been selected as a trainee to work at the EuroCenter DDC (now 99X Technology) in Colombo last year.  I arrived at EC on 22nd October for a two month stay until 22nd December, together with two of my friends, Iresha Dilhani and Ruvini Senevirathna.  First, I would like to thank Mr. Mano Sekaram and Mr. Johann De Cruz for providing us with this great opportunity.

During these two months I learned many things such as how the company is run since I had no idea how a company works.  I also observed people working together as a team, and I had the opportunity to be part of that team.  This involved sharing many responsibilities when we were working with the team.  Our task was to design a website for the Sports Club at EC.  We received assistance from other employees of EC as well.  Actually that was our main task at EC since we were unsure of how to handle this project properly. We gained a lot of experiences from our involvement and learned the correct method of handling such a project.  Initially we had a kick-off meeting and then we went on with to obtain the other requirements.  We had to draw up Story Boards, and after that the main templates had to be designed in order to develop the website.  We followed this method and were successful.

Radhika, Ruvini and Iresha with Eurocenter DDC team.
Radhika, Ruvini and Iresha with Eurocenter DDC team.

We became familiar with a lot of software while designing the EC Sports Club website, as well as how to use Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Fireworks, Macromedia Dreamweaver, CSS, Java Script, Macromedia Flash, etc., and we also learned about Web servers, the Internet and CMS.

I must make special mention of the staff of EC from whom we learned many useful things. Actually they were very kind and helpful and we are indeed grateful for their kindness during the two enjoyable months we spent with them!

I should also like to thank Mr. & Mrs. Charles for their kind hospitality by providing us with comfortable accommodation and tasty food at their house in Rajagiriya, which we greatly enjoyed.  Our thanks also to Mrs. Muththamma and her family for looking after us well and making our stay so pleasant.

I should not forget to mention here that while at EC, I learned to play table tennis as well.  This was something I had been very keen to do. So Ruvini, Iresha and I learned from the others who were playing, and we used to play together during our lunch hour.  This is something we all enjoyed very much.

Radhika Nilupulee at a Christmas party at EC.
Radhika Nilupulee at a Christmas party at EC.