The SriLankan Airlines management team last week laid the foundation stone for a 45 million Sri Lankan Rupee project to reconstruct a Tsunami-devastated school in the town of Kalmunai in the eastern Batticaloa District.
Little boys and girls in starched white uniforms and blue and white shorts lined the school playground clapping loudly as the SriLankan team walked in to their school for a simple foundation stone laying ceremony.
The solemn but happy occasion was attended by the school principal and his staff. The school, Al-Bahariya Maha Vidyalaya, before it was devastated by the Tsunami had 1700 students with 53 teachers and 44 classrooms.
Some of the buildings were completely destroyed by the Tsunami, while others require extensive structural repairs before they can be used.
The school is expected to be completed and handed over by mid 2006. The airline’s social service arm SriLankan Cares Trust has undertaken to construct the Primary School for 700 students with 22 classrooms, fully equipped computer lab, canteen, toilets, auditorium and an administrative area for the principal.Ê
SriLankan Airlines pledged its support to the government to rebuild a school immediately after the Tsunami.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the National Carrier and the Ministry of Education earlier this year.
“SriLankan Airlines was in the forefront of relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the Tsunami, and carried out a number of projects in both the southern and eastern coasts.
This project is a re-affirmation of our continuous commitment towards the long-term effort to reconstruct areas that were devastated,” said Peter Hill, CEO of SriLankan.
SriLankan Cares has been raising funds through the sale of a promotional CD on board flights, and the entire staff of the airline donated a day’s pay to the project.
HelpAlliance, the charity organization of Lufthansa employees, and Lufthansa Technik, SriLankan’s long term business partner has joined hands with SriLankan Cares and confirmed their participation in providing funding for the project.
The architectural drawings were done free of charge by MICD Chartered Architects and the structural drawings done by SriLankan Airlines’ Properties & Facilities Department.
The National Carrier is actively involved in uplifting the education of schoolchildren throughout the island.
Three years ago SriLankan adopted Meepagama Jayanthi Maha Vidyalaya in the flood-stricken Kalawana region of the Ratnapura district, and has completely transformed the school with new buildings and modern amenities such as computer labs and a library, even providing teachers with training in their use.
The airline also donates tens of thousands of books to students in dozens of schools across the island, identified as the neediest.
Over the last several years, SriLankan Airlines has been constantly engaged in developing employability of graduates of several universities including the University of Colombo and the University of Ruhuna.