I already mentioned that despite the fact that there would have been plenty of space on the school compound, UNICEF was not willing to finance the private kindergarten.
They had celebrated the opening of the new school a week prior to our arrival and despite the promises of the Director to provide a classroom in the comfortably big school, we found the kindergarten in a room that was designed to be a teacher’s office. Therefore, there was hardly enough space for 60 children.
The Headmaster excused the fact that they had not prepared anything as we had not announced our visit. We told him that this was our intention to have a look at the normal daily routine and we had quite a long conversation.
It was not clear who would profit from the construction of a building on the grounds of the school. Our research on the internet as to which organizations were already sponsoring the school (all of them publish lists of their donations) was confusing. The Director insisted that the donated money was only for school children not for Kindergarten students…………
It was commendable of the Headmaster to offer the Kindergarten without a fee for the children. On the other hand, it was not our idea of long lasting help.
We decided to pay the salaries to the Kindergarten teachers till the end of the year. We forwarded the request to continue with this help for another year to Roy and would rely on his judgment on what will be best.
It was also Roy that had forwarded the request for financial assistance of a trained Kindergarten teacher operating a very basic Kindergarten in Siribopura.
She was living in a house where no additional buildings were allowed and had therefore built the kindergarten in the front yard of her mother-in-law’s house where it was allowed to set up easy to remove buildings.
This removal might have also been done by a strong storm!
We sat together with the woman, a contractor and Roy and decided to build a new Kindergarten. On the foundation, there would be columns in the corners that would hold up the roof and the side would be closed with wood logs. That way it would be possible to remove the construction and rebuild it on the land owned by the woman as soon as she would be allowed to set up a building there.
With the very high cost for construction material the estimated costs of 3,500 Swiss francs was still manageable for us and it would be possible to school 30 children there. With a much higher roof, electricity and ceiling fans, the new Kindergarten will be comparably luxurious. There would be no need to build a toilet as the toilet of the house is in an annex and could be used by the children also.
We talked to the teacher about asking a small fee from the children, as their parents would save the money to send them to Hambantota in exchange. Plus it would enable her to earn an income for herself and a helper. She herself suggested giving the room in the afternoon to a teacher holding tutorial classes.
In Sri Lanka it is not sufficient to only go to government schools and most children attend additional private tutorials. It has to be said, that a lot of children don’t attend school at all for various reasons, even if the government is telling the opposite.
After more than one and a half years of planning and abolishing the plans again, we decided that this would be the most efficient way to help. That way the Kindergarten would be owned by one person. But as we had failed to register a charity association in Switzerland because of tons of regulations, we had not even considered doing so in Sri Lanka.
Sponsoring existing associations or existing schools made it impossible for us to control who finally benefited from our help.
We signed a contract with the contractor and made a down payment of $1,000. Another $2,000, we paid to Roy which he would forward to the contractor according to the progress of the construction.