Horizon Lanka Foundation received 261 English supplementary reading books from Room to Read, a non-profit organization for helping girls’ education and children’s literacy, on November 02, 2017.
The children read the books with great enthusiasm as the books are very attractive, colorful and easy to use. Obviously, the children are from rural areas and their English knowledge is not much advanced. So, they try to read and understand the books through beautiful pictures.
The Horizon Lanka Foundation has launched a project to measure and to upgrade children’s reading ability and to motivate their eagerness towards reading with understanding with the belief they would learn English faster and will be more open to the world. We are sure they are on the right path.
The books are in different levels; children can learn from lower levels to higher level of English. The books are designed in a very methodical way.
The books will b shared with Horizon Academies in Mahawilachchiya, Tantirimale and Anuradhapura City. We also need books for our new Horizon academy branches in Ranpathvila and Ralapanawa in Anuradhapura district.
Horizon Lanka thanks to Room to Read for this generous donation. Thanks also go to Ms. Umeshi Rajeendra for coordinating this donation.
The idea of starting a Horizon Academy in Ranpathvila is quite abrupt, unexpected and interesting. My eldest brother, Nayanasena Wanninayake who works as a civil engineer in the United Arab Emirates (and also a Sinhala lyrycyst) shared a story on Facebook about a young and energetic Sinhala teacher (Mr. Sugath Nayanananda) who contributed to a free nightly school classes program at Welusuamana Maha Vidyalaya, Thammannewa, Mihintale, Anuradhapura under the blessings of the then principal of the school Mrs. Lalana Dimuthu Wijayanganai. (She is the principal of Kahatagasdigiliya Central College now and continues the nightly school there too.) The subjects covered in this very productive program were Sinhala, English, science, mathematics, history, ICT and aesthetic subjects. The results of the program were amazing and the students’ pass rates at the national level exam GCE Ordinary Levelusually taken by students during the final two years of Senior Secondary School [Grade 10 & 11 (usually ages 15–16)] improved significantly and both Welusuamana Maha Vidyalaya and Kahatagasdigiliya Central College successfully continue the program. I visited Welusuamana Maha Vidyalaya on my personal capacity a few weeks ago and met the staff and I am yet to visit Kahatagasdigiliya Central College.
Having shared the information about Sugath’s contribution to this exceptional program, my brother asked me if I could help them academically in any way possible. Since I have an “unending emotional bond” to the area and I saw this is a perfect program for Horizon Lanka to be of some service to the region, I had a couple of meetings with Sugath and we both decided to start a Horizon Academy branch in Ranpathvila where the students from Kahatagasdigiliya and Mihintale have easy access to since it is situated in the Anuradhapura – Trincomalee main road. There are around 10-15 smaller rural schools in the area and hopefully those students too could join Horizon Academy – Ranpathvila.
So, please share this story with the students and the youth in the adjoining areas and tell them to join Horizon Academy at their earliest. The Academy starts officially tomorrow (November 01, 2017) at 3.00 pm and the course fees for the first month (November) will be completely free of charge and there will be a fee of 500 LKR per student for a range of subjects from English to ICT to robotics to aesthetics subjects to sports.
So, come and join us at Horizon Academy, The First and Only Edutainment Academy of Sri Lanka. Miss Melissa Schmitt from France has joined the institute as the first foreign volunteer at the Academy.
Contact Mr. Sugath Nayanananda, the Manager of Horizon Academy – Ranpathvila firstname.lastname@example.org through email and on 077-4499924 or 071-4299924 on mobile or Mr. Namal Thissa, the English Teacher of the academy at email@example.com and on 077-4546484 or 071-9937398.
So, see you at Horizon Academy – Ranpathvila tomorrow at 3.00 pm.
Thanks to my brother Nayanasena Wanninayaka for making this connection which will in turn do a big difference in the education in the area. Let’s hope for the best.
Last Sunday, the October 1, 2017 Mr. Nihal Jayawardhana and Mrs. Nayana Jayawardhana from Colombo visited Horizon Academy, Tantirimale and donated 64 vouchers to by DSI shoes for the students at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale. Each voucher has a value of 1,000 LKR (6.5 USD.) The children were very happy with this generous donation. They also received a bar of chocolate for each student from the visitors. Mr. and Mrs. Jayawardhana, Lieutenant Colonel Kanishka Jayawardhana and his son came to Tantirimale to make this donation.
The funds for this donation were raised by “Chicago Sri Lankan Children’s Talent Show,” Co-organized by Nadun Gajapala, Ruchira Fernando and Sean Randunne. We thank you all for this kind gesture.
Horizon Lanka Foundation started its second branch of Horizon Academy in Tantirimale, a village in Mahawilachchiya Divisional Secretariat Division in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka on May 01, 2017 (3 ½ months ago.) We started it with the minimum facilities. We rented the building space for 10,000 LKR (6 USD) per month and moved 5 PCs and the furniture from the Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya as a short-term loan facility. (Now Horizon Academy in Mahawilachchiya has only 5 PCs as a result of this loan a number which is not sufficient at all for its 50 students.)
The next challenge was to get internet access to the Horizon Academy, Tantirimale. We did not have the funds necessary. But then, Joe and Sarah Campbell, two British volunteers who volunteered at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale from July to August, 2017 donated 6,000 LKR (40 USD) for the cause of getting internet connectivity to the Academy. With that money, we could buy the equipment needed for ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) internet connection. We could also network the 5 computers within that budget. Now the children can use internet with all 5 PCs we have here. We thank Joe and Sarah Campbell for this generous donation.
Now that we have internet access, we will line up a range of activities to utilize the facility for the students’ and the villagers’ benefits. Every student will have an email ID, a webpage, a blog, a Skype account, a Twitter and a Facebook account. We will adhere to the global standards of age limits for each of these tools and monitor the way the students use them and guide them properly.
The total monthly cost of the internet bill is around 2,000 LKR (13 USD) and we hope someone who reads this post would help us with the cost. Once we attain full financial sustainability, we hope that the expenses for internet can be paid with the students’ course fees. But it is too early to reach that goal. If you are ready to donate for the monthly internet bill, please contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org. or call us through the telephone numbers in Contact Us page.
Ms Champika Bandara from Aurora, Chicago, Illinois the United States of America volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in July, 2017.
“I have been living in the United States for 16 years and every other summer my family and I go back my birthplace of Sri Lanka to visit our family. However, this time, my son Thimira Bandara had the idea to help out and give back to the people of Sri Lanka. Since 2001 we had been helping the Horizon Lanka Foundation by giving donations but, we never had gone to their schools and helped out. So, this time, when we went to Sri Lanka, I thought it was a good idea to actually go to the schools and help out with my son.
Our plan was to leave Colombo on a Thursday night and reach Anuradhapura Friday morning. This gave us enough time to see all the Buddhist monuments, like the Ruwanweli Seya stupa and the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. After we had time to worship, the next day we were off to Tantirimale, a small farming village an hour from Anuradhapura. We arrived around 10:30 and as soon as we came, the children seemed to be ecstatic to see us. In fact, they had arrived at 7:30 out of sheer enthusiasm to learn. This isn’t seen much in the western world, as everything is handed and opportunities are can be found everywhere. Seeing the dedication in these kids made me feel very happy as it reminded to me of my teaching years when I used to run a Montessori from my house in Kadawatha. It has always been a goal of mine to educate Sri Lanka’s young people because in the future we will depend on them to keep our beautiful country running.
At first, we played fun games, sang songs and danced all to get to know the children and to make them feel comfortable with us. Then, later in the day and the next day, while my son taught computers to the older kids, I had an open discussion with the smaller children on what they wanted to be when they grow older. With this I gave them advice on how to be helpful individuals to their communities and their country. I taught them about the importance of keeping their environment clean and being kind to others. I believe it is important to emphasize this with children because they are our future.
Even though the conflict (Civil War) in the area has been over for a while and the town of Tantirimale seems to be more advanced than ever before, the people there still face many hardships. When talking to the locals many mentioned the water issue and the lack of resources needed to take care of their crops. Amazingly, the village is beautiful nonetheless, however with such hardships, it is only fair that the children receive the best education possible. Thanks to Mr. Wanninayaka and his volunteers, Tantirimale is becoming a wonderful institution for kids to learn computers and English, which is a necessary skill in the real life.
Overall my experience with the foundation and the children was wonderful. Not only was I able to teach the children but they were also able to teach my son and I a few things. I am hoping more Sri Lankans here in the United States and other countries will come together and help out the future of Sri Lanka. There are many more things these children could use, from books to laptops, and from what I have seen these children will put good use to them.”
Champika Sumithraarachchi – the United States of America
I find it hard to describe my experience with Horizon Academy, Tantirimale because of all the different emotions I had. I have volunteered before in the Czech Republic and Poland, but this was my best experience so far. Before coming to Sri Lanka I would never have thought that I would leave with the feeling of having a Sri Lankan family to come back to visit after my wonderful experience with my family while volunteering.
We had planned to stay a week and by the end of the week we wanted to stay longer. From the first moment of meeting our host family I felt so welcomed and part of their family. Our family was great, they provided us with delicious meals, and we had so much fun with them. We played games together, learned about each other cultures and overall enjoyed each other’s company. Sandali the little girl in the family was so clever and she always wanted to play and improve her English. I think she will continue to get better and better. We will miss our Sri Lankan family and I wish them all the best in the future.
During our time volunteering with Horizon we worked at the local school in the village in the morning and at the Horizon Academy in the afternoon. We started our classes at the local school around 10 a.m. and finished at lunch time. The classes at Horizon Academy were usually from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The children are great and are very nice to teach. They have lots of potential and they are very eager to improve their English, so I think they will continue to improve in the future. Sunanda the manager at Horizon was very welcoming and helped us with any problems we had. He helped us with our host family, gave us a ride to and from school and gave us information about the area.
The area is very beautiful and I think anyone who decides to come here will not regret their decision. We found the area very relaxing and a great place to experience the countryside of Sri Lanka. We had lots of free time to visit the local sites and the people in the area are so friendly and will always greet you with a big smile and a wave. Anuradhapura is not far away and takes about one hour on the local bus. The buses go fairly often during the day so you could visit there on your days off.
Sri Lanka is a great place to visit we really enjoyed Colombo and Anuradhapura before we started our volunteering with Horizon. I hope the rest of Sri Lanka will be as good.
I would like to thank Horizon for accepting me on this program and I wish them continued success in the future. I think the work they are doing is so important and if you are lucky enough to join them at some stage I think you will have a wonderful experience. I hope I can come back some day and do it all again.
John Stephen Connolly – Ireland (Volunteered in May 2017)
Volunteering with Horizon Academy, Tantirimale was such a unique experience and I’m so glad that I did it. We spent time at the public schools as well as the Academy and found the students so engaging and sweet. They were quick to laugh and smile, and generally lovely students that wanted to learn. Upon meeting us they would be shy, but this lasted only a few minutes until they broke into big smiles and started talking or playing with us. At the public school, there were often large classes with a range of abilities, so it was important to be creative and fun to keep the children’s attentions. There was only one English teacher for the whole school, so doing a few lessons here and there helped him, and helped the students practice their speech with a native speaker.
The Horizon Academy – Tantirimale was more structured with smaller classes. The students would come about once a week for around 2 hours. Each class was divided into Computer Class and English Class. Children in the surrounding villages have limited access to computers, so Computer Class is an important part of the program. Some students were quick to learn or already had some knowledge, while others were still learning how to use the mouse properly and select colors. Once again, they were eager to learn though and worked together in pairs or group to complete tasks set by myself or my husband. After Computer Class, we would do different English activities depending on the age and ability of the class. Once they got past their shyness, they got really involved in the games and spoke with us as much as they could. Supplies are minimal at the moment, so again it’s imperative that you are creative and fun to keep them interested and excited. Saying that, the students are so sweet it’s easy just to hang out with them and have fun.
Living with a local family is another aspect of the experience that makes it so unique. The family we stayed with were wonderful and truly made us part of their family. Even with little language between us, we were able to form a bond with them and get to understand their village and lifestyle. They were eager to learn from us but also show us about their culture which made it feel like I genuine exchange of ideas. In the village we stayed, there had not been foreigners before, so there was a lot of interest from neighbors. Often you’d find yourself sitting in a chair reading or eating being watched by a few people. It may sound uncomfortable, but they are just excited and curious. Over time they get used to you, but they’ll still give you big smile and possibly offer you food or drink. Village life is very quiet and can be far from other shops so it’s good to be aware of this beforehand. I really loved my family and it was really sad to leave them but I know I’ll always have a Sri Lankan family now.
Anne Marie Connolly – The United States of America (Volunteered in May 2017)
Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya was inaugurated in August 1998 (19 years ago.) The main purpose of these educational programs were to help the children and the youth of this rural community of Mahawilachchiya, for a better future and for them to prosper in their lives with much needed English language and an ICT education.
Horizon Lanka Foundation launched its second Horizon Academy branch in Tantirimale, a rural village in Mahawilachchiya Divisional Secretariat Division. Even though there are a several small public schools in Tantirimale, English language and ICT education is a lot to be desired. Hence, the need of a supplementary educational institute such as the Horizon Academy.
Horizon Academy, Tantirimale was officially launched on May 01, 2017. More than 50 children enrolled in the Academy the first day. Yet, the Academy has only 5 computers, temporarily provided by the Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya. It would be very helpful to the students if some generous person or company could kindly donate computers and other necessary peripherals to this new Academy.
I experienced riding a motorcycle in Sri Lanka for the first time yesterday. Even though I have ridden all kinds of two wheelers and four wheelers in India for two decades, the ride from Mahawilachchiya to Tantirimale Temple was truly special. I rode solo as I followed Rajitha with Cristina behind him. When we started our travel, we had to endure a difficult and rough mud road until we reached the good service road that brought us to comfortably to Tantimale. On the way, we stopped and Rajitha went to a pond to collect some flowers.
As I rode, I could see a lot of kids dressed in white going towards Tantirimale Temple to attend the Dhamma School on Sunday. After reaching Tantirimale we entered the temple and offered the flowers Rajitha had gathered earlier. We then went around a pond by the temple and began to climb a rock. As we were climbing we saw a beautiful peacock fly by that both surprised and amazed us.
High up the rock, we spent time taking photographs and chatting before descending the mountain to see the Sanghamitta Cave near the Tantirimale Temple. We saw the ancient paintings in another cave and learned about its history. From there, we hiked around the temple’s property. It was a really wonderful experience and an unforgettable memory for me. As we were leaving, we could see many Buddhist students in their white dress with their teachers. Students regularly come on chartered trips arranged by local schools. We were able to see some of the Buddhist monks with pilgrims walking around the temple. We saw the famous reclining Buddha statue along with other magnificent statues here.
After the temple, we took our bikes and started our ride back towards Mahawilachchiya on route to the Mahawilachchiya reservoir where we spent time taking pictures and learning about the importance of the reservoir. We then ate our lunch prepared by Horizon student Tharani’s mother. It consisted of coconut rice (local Sri Lankan food) and some bananas. Although fairly simple, it was quite tasty and filling. Sharing our lunch was a memorable moment between an Indian guy Prince Leonard, Sri Lankan guy Rajitha and a Spanish girl Cristiana.
After spending time at the Mahawilachchiya reservoir, we decided to head home to our destination Nanda’s house, who is the founder and CEO of Horizon Lanka.
I am so happy to volunteer here at Horizon Lanka teaching English to the students. I already experienced teaching English in Gamini School, one of the public schools in Mahawilachchiya. The students enjoyed my teaching and were fascinated to learn from me. Nanda has been so accommodating to my ideas for classes and will allow me to teach Tamil classes in the near future. It’s indeed a pleasure to be here at Horizon Lanka in Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. My trip to Tantirimale was enjoyable and my experience so far at Horizon Lanka has been incredible.
If you would like to have this one of a kind experience at Horizon Lanka, you are most welcome to volunteer here and take part in a good cause. Also, please share this story with friends all over the world in your social networks.
Alberto Tosato was an Italian volunteer who worked at Horizon Lanka in February 2016. He came alone with his friend Mattia Brandolese who was also from Italy. He taught at Saliyamala Public School in the morning session and at Horizon Lanka in the evening and weekend sessions.