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Sunday, 17 June 2012

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Light at the end of the tunnel- EDEX LYD's dream:

'Reading maketh a man'



Security Forces Commander Jaffna Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe and Principal Royal College, and the patron of the RCU Upali Gunasekara opened the library. Chairman of EDEX Expo, Kamal Abeysinghe is in the background


Royal College principal Upali Gunasekara handing over a book to a student


Students of Kulamangal Roman Catholic Vidyalam

She gently touched the pages of the story book with glossy pages and colourful pictures. The little girl who had never owned a new book enjoyed the refreshing smell of the book. Apart from its 'beauty' she felt the warmth of friendship wrapped in it as it was a book from the South.

Ten-year-old Karskini Pullendran's eyescaught the book Oliver Twist which had eye catching pictures, which was neatly stored in the book rack in their library, which was opened barely a few days ago. The girl in the Fifth Grade and secured second rank in a class with 21 children was awestruck with the environment in the new library.

With her little knowledge in English, she is trying to read Oliver Twist. Displaced and surviving with her father's meagre daily income as a labourer she lives in a temporary shelter in Thelippilai. She said she owns only two story books written in Tamil and bought by her mother.

The girl is one among the many happy students of the Kulamangal Roman Catholic Vidyalam, 16 km off Jaffna as they got a library with over 700 books, furniture and a computer. Their time table has to be revised to add a new session titled 'library'.

In fractured English and with the assistance of her teacher, she expressed her happiness saying that it was a great thing that the school got a library and the books were valuable assets.

Anton Amaladas, a Grade 10 student who doesn't have the means to own a single book at home to read except for school text books, wants to gain maximum knowledge from the books in the library. He likes to read English books to brush up his English knowledge. Dreaming of becoming a doctor, Anton is the third student in a class of 22.

The new library at the school is a dream comes true, which was realised under the 'EDEX Live Your Dream' (LYD) Program and it is a CSR initiative of the Royal College Union and the Associated Newspaper of Ceylon Limited (ANCL).

The small, gloomy room with two old cupboards with the few books in the school was turned into a small impressive library to offer the enjoyment of reading a book, for the 275 children in the school.

The most important is that this library is wrapped with love and care of the people of the South.

Books worth Rs. 100,000 includes brand new books as well as books used carefully by old boys of the Royal College Colombo and their children.

"This donation was done to mark 10 years of service to the youth of this country since the launch of EDEX Expo in 2004. It is the third library in a series of projects selected by the EDEX LYD Committee to assist rural youth to realise their dreams", Chairman of EDEX Expo, Kamal Abeysinghe said that the 'Sihinayata Jeewayak (Live Your Dream) project encourages and empowers youth from challenging backgrounds to realise a 'dream' idea benefiting a community of youth, translating into a tangible reality in spheres such as education, skills development, inventiveness or creativity leading to gainful employment and sustainable living.

The morning of June 11 was a historical moment for the Kulamangal Roman Catholic Vidyalam the first library was opened after 132 years. It was opened by the Security Forces Commander Jaffna Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe and Principal Royal College, and the patron of the RCU Upali Gunasekara.

The donation will include valuable books in English and Tamil, past papers in all subjects, biographies, history books, dictionaries and furniture such as book racks, tables, chairs, computers provided by USAID and it was supported by the Civil and Military Co-ordination Unit of the 513 Brigade under the instructions of its Brigade Commander Brig. Pradeep de Silva. The soldiers of the 14th Gemunu Watch renovated an old classroom with financial assistance provided by RCU. The total cost of the donation which includes building materials, furniture, a computer and books, is Rs. 400,000.

The Principal of Kulamangal RC Vidyalayam R.J. Anthonimuttu appreciated the support extended by Old Royalists to improve the reading habit of students by upgrading the library with valuable books.

The Principal, Royal College thanked the Commander SF-J and the Army for making an opportunity for them to help this school which needed a library to improve the education of its students. Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe, who was the chief guest said the RCU had helped mutual understanding between students of the North and the South by donating books and helping to upgrade the school library. " It will help establish sustainable peace in the country", he said.

Explaining EDEX's mission to promote reading under its project titled 'Donate a Book to a Needy Student' Abeysinghe said they identified the Kulamangal Roman Catholic Vidyalam as EDEX's third school needing a library as the RCU team had seen the school's poor library facilities last year when RCU donated sports equipment to the school.

Abeysinghe said RCU launched the EDEX expo, the Education exhibition, in 2004 specially focusing on the country's youth, preparing them to be confident, competitive young adults and helping them to accomplish their aspirations.

"The youth in our country have so much potential. But with cycles of mismatches and inequalities in the education system and a discouraging environment faced in post secondary education, they have limited opportunities for progress.

Most often they lack proper guidance and direction in this arena. We stepped into bridge this void by launching 'EDEX Expo' by creating the most comprehensive single platform offering the widest possible range of choices, options and opportunities in higher education, skills development, vocational training leading to gainful employment", he said.

He said it had now become the annual 'social responsibility' project of the RCU, which created EDEX Expo to serve as a platform to capture and echo the voices of aspiring youth who yearn for opportunities to realise their potential.

The first library under RCU's project - Donate a Book to a Needy Student - was donated to the Padavi-Sripura Jayanthi Maha Vidyalaya in Trincomalee and the second recipient was the Kobbewela Keerthirathne Maha Vidyalaya Galigamuwe to get an 'advanced' library, an upgraded version of their tiny library with a few racks of books.

Since their school days, Royalists are taught the three R's of the environment: reduce, reuse, recycle. It was promoted by EDEX through its project named Think Green.

Its an effort by RCU to contribute its share to the environment through its initiative 'Go Green' which promote a 'Green Environment', 'Green Food', 'Green Energy' as well as 'Green Behaviour and Habits' which leads to a sustainable living in future.

"It is important to create awareness of the rising global demand for 'Green Education', 'Green Skills' and a new generation of 'Green-collar workers' among our youth", Abeysinghe said.

Ultimately, Royalists would support to reduce the impact on the earth by its Go Green concepts while helping to reduce green house gas emission.

It is a story of raising a reader by gifting the books that are forgotten, unused, or piled up after being read. They can be a treasure to a child, who never had the pleasure of owning a book, on the other side of the country. It is a generous attempt to get those books into the hands of someone who's eager to read them.

As the EDEX team says: Never be afraid to dream. Have the courage to aspire. always reach for the moon and the stars. Everything starts with a dream.

If you are a dreamer among our nation's youth, with a burning desire, inspired and energised to serve your community, here is a great opportunity to make your dream come true.

Yes... its your chance to make a child in a school at the far edge of the country smile... "Nan santhoshamaga irukkirene (I am happy)" Karskini who dreams of coming a teacher one day said tightly holding her latest favourite book - Oliver Twist. Her friends had borrowed - Sea Animals, Black Beauty and read them by themselves.

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