Young students at recess at the Sri Sumangala Girls' College
The Sri Sumangala Girls' College in southern Sri Lanka (http://www.sumangalabalika.sch.lk) provides education to 2,700 girls from ages 5 to 20. It was severely damaged by the tsunami of December 2004 and many students lost their lives or became destitute. International organizations helped to rebuild the school but it continues to be plagued by inadequate facilities. The ability to attend university and achieve a higher education is beyond the reach of most students.
Ann and Gabor Kato are two retired Swiss/Canadian neuroscientists. In
December 2004, they traveled to Myanmar where they were fortunate to have survived the
tsunami on that fateful day of December 26th. The following year they went to Sri Lanka
where they saw the devastation caused by the tsunami and they decided to help the victims
of this disaster. They chose to assist the Sri Sumangala Girls' College in Weligama on
the southern coast of the island. The school, with 2,700 students from grades 3 to 12,
was severely damaged ; thirteen girls died and over half of the girls lost close members
of their families.
Since then they have been aiding the school by providing books, writing material, computers and offering prizes for the best students in each class. Ann and Gabor return each year to develop a closer contact with the students and teachers and to have a better understanding of their needs. When the students were asked what they wanted to be in the future, they all dreamed of being doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers and engineers. The enthusiasm on their faces was very touching. They are very motivated, curious and eager to advance their education.
The purpose of their project is to support those that suffered the most in the tsunami. By funding some urgent needs and later receiving donations and support from their friends, Ann and Gabor were able to start the initial project to help the Sri Sumangala Girls' College.
They focused on education because education enhances lives and ends cycles of poverty and disease. There is no investment more effective than educating girls.