The History of our Project
|Ravi and his family, who come from Sri Lanka and have been our friends since around 1980.
|Heinz and Lisa
our daughter Uschi and our son-in-law Andy,
their children Katharina (*1993), Sebastian (*1996) and Johannes (*1999)
|Friends in Sri Lanka:
|Ravi`s family, "our" family in Colombo, which are: Malinee and Piyasiri with their daughters Gayathree and Nadeera, called Nadee. The latter is Uschi`s penpal since 1978 and works with UNHCR Sri Lanka; Toni, one of their friends and another pal of Uschi: Hazeeba, called Hazi.
|Staff and parents of the GaLeMo Private Montessori School in Klosterneuburg-Weidling (near Vienna), which was founded 2002 for children from 6 to 15 years.
Leader, staff and parents of this Montessori House for Children in Greifenstein/Danube.
After the "Bunte Welt" had to be closed down in 2011 the leader Gabriela Domes and Uschi founded together the "Kleinkinderhaus" in Klosterneuburg in 2012.
|Terrified, we hear about the flood wave striking Southeast Asia.
The enchantment of Christmas has disappeared suddenly. We call our friends in Colombo and are relieved to hear, they have not been bothered; we send SMS and E-Mails to all our other friends and get to know, they too stayed healthy and unhit by Tsunami.
Just Hazi, whom we visited recently during our last visit of Sri Lanka in November, suffers from a shock. Naadhia and Nabeel, the two older of her three children went to visit their granny, Hazi`s mother, in Beruwala, when the big wave came. Her house is only 50 yds (approx. 15 m) from the beach. Fortunately they were able to flee to a relative`s house on a hill, about 200 m away and escaped like that. The house has been slightly damaged, but nobody got injured.
On Poya Days (= Full moon) Toni uses to walk on the beach, but since that day was Christmas, he went to church with his two kids, so he too stayed far away from the water, when the wave hit the beach.
Ravi`s family does not live at the coastline, so they were not hit as well.
|Ravi calls Uschi and asks her, if we can help with a relief-project, Uschi agrees, so he sends her an e-mail in which he lists up all things, which are needed for the Tsunami-victims.Uschi sends it on to relatives, friends, GaLeMo parents and we start calling others, who are not linked to the Internet.
The house at Sonnenweg works as emergency headquarter those following days. Katharina is the telephone operator, puts down names and numbers, while Uschi is on the phone and I am on the computer.
Everything else stays behind as unimportant. The nights we spend in front of the TV, check all channels for news, BBC has the most news from Sri Lanka. Pictures showing the devastated coast line, hurt our souls. Galle, which we know, is nearly washed off, so many villages have simply disappeared and to make things worse, heavy monsoon-rains complicate the rescue actions.
|The first relief-supplies are delivered to Sonnenweg.
|Not only we have spent a quiet New Year's Eve - we hardly saw any firworks, everybody`s spirits seem to be sad. Whereever you go and to whom you listen - the catastrophy is non-stop point of discussions.
We spend the weekend with the things we received from many people. We sort, pack and write content-lists on the banana-boxes, Andy had collected from all supermarkets in the area.
We bring the first load to Ravi; his apartment looks already more like a storehouse than a place for living.
|Hazi sends news in form of relief-requests and addresses from various NGOs and organisations which try to help.
Mrs. L. Frühstück (GaLeMo-mother) has asked for medical help at the local pharmacy in St. Andrä-Wördern - Mrs. Mag. U. Zahlut calls Uschi and informs her, that she prepaired a parcel in the value of € 1.000,-. Andy collects it and delivers it to Ravi, DHL takes it free of charge to Colombo on
|from where it will be collected by a priest from Batticaloa, who asked Ravi for help. His temple had been partly destroyed, but he hosts hundreds of people who need medical help plus food.
Nadee sends via UNO the NGO Volunteer Registration Details.
|Nadee reports about first relief operations in Sri Lanka.
Our niece, Mrs. B. Göttersdorfer, has initiated a collection at "Badesiedlung Greifenstein" and has spent the last evenings outdoors (at freezing temperatures, which her back misliked) packing more than twenty big boxes with clothing, shoes, bedlinen, etc. We go, collect it from her and deliver everything to Ravi on
|after he finishes work. During the last days we started to work on another project at the same time. We intend to establish something like a small orphanage in the future and have called and e-mailed again our friends, relatives and spend this evening to discuss details with Ravi.
Only one week after we started the relief work, we had to tell everybody to stop the collection because AUA, who originally had promised three free transports to Colombo, informed us after only two, that we have to pay from now on. Mr. Bauer (GaLeMo father) works at a bank, somehow clients heard from the collection and started to bring boxes to bank outlets all over, which meant a lot of problems for Mr. Bauer. The will to help developed like an avalanche but we knew, we had to stop it because of the transport problem. Even AUVA agreed to allow a collection within the staff, so Andy had some more roundtrips to collect these boxes as well and deliver them to Ravi.
1,5 t were packed by Ravi and his friends, wrapped into plastic foil and arrived in two lots at the Prime Minister`s Office in Colombo.
Hazi sends more reports about relief operations in Sri Lanka.
|Charles Wardell has created a webpage for our project "Charity Home for Children".
I report our project to UNO, UNHCR, UNICEF and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as well as Ministry of Inner Affairs.
|My penpal Sharon from Texas, USA, sends an incredible photo from the Tsunami wave, taken in Indonesia. Toni sends an e-mail refering to our project, he agrees to our calculation of general costs and offers his help in form of looking after the place when it is founded.
Ravi receives a fax from the Prime Minister`s office, in which the relief operations are welcomed.
AUA confirms, that they are not taking over free transports any longer. They offer a reduced freight-price (€0,85 per kg). We desperately start to look for other possibilities.
We start creating stationary, E-Mail forms to write to donors and ask for help with the distribution of our project, we create and print out pappers where we point to our webpage and ask for support, etc.
Our webpage needs all sorts of informations to be able to introduce our orphanage to more people, we start working on that as well.
|Hazi sends a map of Sri Lanka - before and after the big wave. Nearly all coastlines present themselves differently now.
The lagoon near Trincomalee, which we admired during our last visit there in November, has disappeared. But there is a huge gap next to Galle in the South of the island, nearly all little bays along the Eastcoast have been washed away - the coastline is rather straight now.
We are very upset about the fact, that nearly all media stopped to report about the effected countries - after a lot of promises by various governments everybody seems to have returned to the normal daily agenda.
|I send e-mails to all donors, also to those people who agreed to take over a sponsorship, work out forms, go on to write informations for the webpage, report our project to the honorary consuls in Salzburg and Munich, to the Council of Vienna and the Minstry of Education, Sience and Art ("Partner of all Nations")
|Uschi presents our "Charity Home for Children" at the meeting of parents at "Bunte Welt" Montessori House for children in Greifenstein.
This is very upsetting for her, because Sri Lanka nearly is her second home country since her teenage-years, she spent so much time there, what happened, makes her heart aching.
Gabriela Domes, the owner of "Bunte Welt" intends to share the income of future children`s house actions with our orphanage-project.
My life would be much easier, if I could handle my pc in a more efficient way - I spent a whole night integrating Uschi`s addresses into my address-book but - I succeeded, yippie!
In Mr. Herbert Marchula (GaLeMo-father) Uschi found someone, who might be able to help us to solve our transport problem. He will contact a friend at the freighter`s association, a friendly carrier could bring our goods to an European harbour, so I try to find also a friendly reeder, who is willing to take over the freight and ship it to Colombo. I talk to Mr. Norbert Wowy from Hapag Lloyd Austria, who listens to my problems and promises to ask the headquarter in Hamburg, if they agree to my request.
Ravi has to empty the room he was allowed to use for the storage of all the delivered releif-goods. He finds a warehouse for free in the 10th district and since that is not big enough for all the boxes, he needed another one, which is at Hotel Biedermeier in the 3rd district.
We also got a lot of winter-clothes and winter-shoes, 75 boxes and 16 big bags are delivered by him to "Würfel" - there everything will find a new owner, in Sri Lanka nobody could use these things.
We still have 20 m3 clothes, shoes, toilet articles, bed linen and medicines plus 12 m3 stable food, that means we need for the 32m3 a 20' General Purpose Container. Mr. Wowy will pass on our request.
|I repeat our request in a mail addressed to Mr. Wowy, send out also mails to donors, introduce our project to more of our friends.
|Heinz and Uschi have organised a surprise party for me at the GaLeMo school hall, which also can be rented for private parties. There I find 36 of my "old" friends, relatives and 9 children, who sing "happy birthday" for me. Lots of cards, flowers and gifts are handed out, the African Buffet offers a delicious variety of food, spicy, exotic - most guests like it.
I use the opportunity to present our project, when we empty the collection box, we count a donation of more than € 700, -. Together with my "Birthday Book", written by my guests, a wonderful and generous gift.
|This was my 60th birthday and the phone kept ringing. I automatically answered "Hallo, this is the birthday child speaking." This time however it was Norbert Wowy of Hapag Lloyd on the line. He laughted and congratulated me .... and then I received the most wonderful birthday present one could imagine: Hapag Lloyd has agreed to provide us free of charge with a 20' Container for the transport of our relief goods from Hamburg to Colombo. Further details will follow.
I inform Herbert Marchula of GaLeMo who will take care of the logistics.
What a memorable day!
|I receive an extra long e-mail from Mr. Mike Penitz from Hapag Lloyd, in which he gives me all details about the following procedure. To me most of the listings are rather confusing but I am sure, we will be able to solve also this problem.
Meanwhile we have 15 people willing to take over a sponsorship for our project, I send out the necessary form by mail and e-mail and ask again some of our friends to help us by introducing the project to their friends.
And I try to think of a way to collect the necessary capital of € 10.000 to be able to start the whole thing.
During the recent holiday-week I received an e-mail from Mr. Mag. Alexander Winter (Schenker Transports), in which he offered to take over our relief-goods and move the container, offered by Mr. Norbert Wowy (Hapag Lloyd Vienna), to Hamburg harbor. He had heard from our needs by Mr. Mag. Andreas Demmer, the Managing Director of the Forwarding Agents' Association. I sent him the list, which I had received from Mr. Michael Penitz/Hapag Lloyd and Mr. Winter issued all the necessary papers, which was a great relief for me.
Today Mrs. Margit Urbanek/Hapag Lloyd sent the official Booking Confirmation: Our 5000 kg relief goods will leave the port of Hamburg on February 21st and reach the port of Colombo on March 19th.
We are happy to announce, that Ravi Rupasena succeeded in Sri Lanka in a marathon to find a way establishing finally our project. For obtaining the necessary authorizations it is necessary to obtain a local NGO-status. Ravi was able to build up a committee consisting of
a priest, Rev. Panakawe Premarathana,they will act as local links to the Ministry for Women and Social Affairs.
Ravi rented one floor of a two-storey-house in a village called Makola-Kiribathgoda, 12 kms inlands in direction to Kandy. This floor will now be adapted and furnished within the next months.
He has chosen seven boys aged 10 to 12 years from a crowd of more than thirty applicants in Ampara (South of Batticaloa), at the East coast of Sri Lanka. They will start to move in our house, when it is ready (planned for January 2006), and live there permanently, looked after by the staff employed and will visit Dhamma School to study until they reach A-levels at the age of 18 years.
Most of the Tsunami-orphans found shelter at their families and relatives - as the officials told Ravi. The regulations for adoption and children care were drastically changed, so we decided to follow this educational programme to help children and their families. As otherwise they would not be able to go to school, get proper education and find better opportunities for their future lifes.
Now we started to follow our vision and hope, you will go on supporting us.
With your help we extended our programme: New Home, and help for 6 girls!
Mid-December 2007 Ravi travelled to Sri Lanka again, to see how our boys are getting along.
Unfortunately he came to know that the boys’ relatives were really alarmed about the increasing number of violence in the Colombo area repeatedly. Also the boys reported that they had to suffer mobbing against “Invaders from the East” by the local pupils.
With the help of the NGO - The Centre for Psychosocial Care (CPC) for families affected by disasters (initiative sponsored by the University of Innsbruck, Austria) Ravi succeeded to find a new home for our godchildren in a state run national school with hostel facilities for boys.
The new school, D. S. Senanayaka National School, is situated in the Ampara region of where the boys were born. Two of them are able to stay with their families again and to attend the same school together with the others.
Ravi arranged to renovate the small house next to the school campus, where the boys are living now and as well as the transport of all the belongings including our furniture to the new hostel.
With the beginning of the new school year the boys were transferred to their new school and settled down into their new home which is directly under the supervision of the main school authorities.
Since two of them do not have to use the boarding service now Ravi decided to co-operate with the “CPC” and agreed to support another two girls through our programme to finance their school fees, books and school uniforms, when needed.
He also agreed to help three more girls in Colombo in the same way. (due to the better exchange rate we gained a bit more money already)
One of Vimukthi’s (one of the boys in our programme) sisters was successfully operated on a congenital heart defect last year. Now she should go to Colombo again for post operative check-ups and to have her medication revised. The family cannot afford to make the trip nor pay for the rather expensive medication which is necessary.
Therefore, we ask you – our sponsors – for help again. Can you please inform your friends and families about our initiative?
In case, we can find new sponsors through your help, we could help this poor child and more children to have an easier life in the future.
For more information:
The year 2008 ended up with a good cause; it was a year when we could help another charity project in Sri Lanka.
Divlapitiya Sri Piyadharshanarama Sunday School Dhamma School provide tuition for about 600 children from the region. For many years the school principle,Rev. Ghanarathana, has been trying to get a new building , since the children don’t have enough classrooms and most of them were having their classes outside in the open air. By chance I met him here in Vienna when he was on a Mission and became aware of his requirements regarding the children. While keeping this in mind, as a first step in January 2008 we started sponsoring three children, Hansani, Shilpa, and Hansika from this school (please see our “photo page” for more information about them) and I spoke to Mrs. Perera,who is involved with the UN Women’s Guild (UNWG) which has also assisted many projects around the world. With her advice and information Rev. Ghanarathana sent all the required documents. At the end of the year our request was approved and UNWG donated Euro 7000 to finish the first level of the school. While I was in Sri Lanka in December I handed over the certificate to the Reverend and an immediate start was made to build the school.
On this occasion there was a prize-giving to the best students for that year. There were some kind people who came from the UK who have already been sponsoring some children for a few years. I had also the opportunity to add another two children to our project, introducing a special one-year programme which sponsors the best two students for one year. Please see the attached letter of Rev. Ghanaratana. (PDF)
With the above two children we have increased our sponsorships to 14 children.
I hope to expand our project and also to find additional funds to build the second level of this school. Please see the photos of this ceremony and the attached file for more information.
In addition, we bought a hearing aid for a child with the assistance of the Sri Lankans working in the UN organisations in Vienna.
We bought a bicycle to reduce the travelling cost for Hansika, who is already sponsored through our project (Please visit our “Activities” page for more details).
I would like to mention the sincerity of Himesh, who was sponsored through our project since 2006, and his mother, for informing us their present financial situation and to stop his sponsorship. We wish him all the best for his future.
For year 2010 we are sponsoring 19 children - 6 Boys and 13 Girls!
The year 2009 ended in a positive way after having helped various charity projects and also having an opportunity to expand our project from the beginning of 2010 including 5 Tamil children from Batticaloa East of Sri Lanka and another child from Rathnapura, South- East of Colombo. The five children were selected from different schools near Batticaloa with poor family status. Isundu had a “Spinal Cord" surgery and is not able to move his feet and is carried to school. We donated a wheelchair to Isundu Noopura, a 12 year old schoolboy at the D.S. Senanayaka College in Colombo 7. Books and a Stethoscope were donated to Aranie Asarathnam, a medical student of the Eastern University of Sri Lanka. She has been searching on the internet to find some help to buy her books for the 3rd year studies and wrote us after seeing our website.
Ravi has returned from a short trip to Sri Lanka. He could only visit few of the Children. However, they are all doing well and proceeding with their studies.
We would like to mention that one child, Vimukthi, has to redo his examination, but we have continued our support because we are of the opinion it would be a shame that he does not finish his G.C. E. O/L in order to begin with the A/Level.
Unfortunately, one of our children, Amila has difficulty in fulfilling his regular school activities. Therefore we suggested that he should attend a Technical Course after consulting his guardians.
Ravi suggested that the girls in Batticaloa should learn to ride bicycles since many of the children in that province use bicycles as mean of transport. Therefore, we also reduce the transport cost. We are hoping to buy the bicycles in August when Ravi visits them in August.
The five girls at Divlapitiya and the child at Rathnapura are also progressing with their studies.
We would like to thank all the sponsors for their help and wish you all a happy Easter.
With best wishes,
Lisa & Ravi
|Dear Ms. Evi Zoepnek,
this is to express our appreciation for your generosity of taking over dormitory fee for Arani.
Hearfelt thanks on behalf of Arani!
Lisa & Ravi
The year 2011 ended with many positive achievements.
Four children at Ampara took their G. C. E. O/L examinations after studying considerably during the whole year. The results of this examination will be available in March 2012.
We would like to inform you that Gayan left our programme early since his family’s financial status improved slightly. During the last two years he has passed his examinations and he is now studying for his university entrance (Matura).
We would like to thank Ms Evi Zoepnek for paying Aranie’s (medical student) dormitory fees for her final year. We are also pleased to let you know that Aranie is studying hard for her final examination in mid-2012. In Addition, she is providing the necessary assistance for the five children at Baticoloa.
We would also like to thank the sponsors who gave an extra contribution for this purpose.
We would like to announce that we will have another two sponsors from the beginning of 2012.
Generally all the children are doing well with their studies and we are happy to inform that we are able to provide help for 20 children in 2012.
We would like to thank all the Sponsors and would appreciate if you could inform your colleagues, friends and relatives of this valuable project.
We need your support to expand this project.
We wish you A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.
We would like to update our project informing all the sponsors about our present status and future activities for 2014.
As we informed you previously, in connection with the visit of the both families, Novak and Tschare, sufficient progress was made by contributing computers to the school, meeting with school heads and guardians of the children. At the same time creating good image for our charity organization.
As a result of the visit, the sponsors found the importance of adding more children.
At a request of the First Lady of Sri Lanka, Shiranthi Rajapaksa, who also has a country-wide charity programme we decided to add two more girls in need of assistance from the North Eastern coast of Sri Lanka. In addition, our sponsor Dr Karin Tscherre is providing spectacles and expensive medical items with the support of her personal friends which are donated and distributed around the country. Also with the support of the First Lady we were able to send two Austrian children to Sri Lanka to work and learn about the country’s educational system.
During their visit to the East Coast of Sri Lanka our Sponsors decided to add another three girls whom they met. These girls will be also provided with their school outfits as well as school books similar to the other children in our programme.
We are pleased to announce that the medical student, Ms Aranie Asairanthnam, whom we assisted, is currently attending a training school course in a hospital in the northern part of Sri Lanka. We hope very soon she will be a trained doctor.
Two girls will not be continuing their studies at the Ampara school project. We are trying to help them with vocational training. Vimukthi from the same group decided to join as a trainee electrician at the Government electricity board.
Two boys, Naveen and Gayan did the Advance Level examination (university entrance) and are waiting for their examination results. We hope to be able to provide assistance in case they are admitted to the university or to help them with extra tuition.
The Divlapitiya Temple project is also taking care of the children and is progressing nicely with the studies.
We have a total of 20 children for sponsorship.
We would like to take this opportunity of thanking all sponsors for the entire period as well as the new sponsors who joined this project to enable us to provide additional help.
We would like to thank Dr Ajith de Silva and his family for providing his vehicle from the beginning of our project to visit the schools in the northern part of Sri Lanka. Many thanks to Mr Mohanraj for his communication skills with the Tamil language which help me to discuss the whole programme with the North and East Tamil children.
We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Lisa and Ravi