Aug 17, 2018

How your donation makes a difference!

Rasanjalee
Rasanjalee

Cookery, dancing and sport have been key themes this term at Cotagala School.

The teaching team set up special cookery sessions in June for the students to expand their culinary skills. They enjoyed cooking mango jam, rotis, dhosai, pancakes and milk rice. Those who study at Cotagala already get involved in food preparation activities on a daily basis as part of the programme to develop independent living skills. These structured activities, however, are also important to help develop their skills. Every student got the opportunity to practise the different recipes over the course of a few days and of course, everyone enjoyed tasting what they had prepared!

Dilrukshi and Dinushika, two of the teachers whose salaries are funded by Global Giving, choreographed a new dance for some of the dance students. This is in preparation for an event later in the year and those participating are enjoying practising the new routine.

The Asian Paralympics took place in July and twelve students were selected to take part. They were given the opportunity to participate in two training sessions and then really enjoyed the event itself. Students took part in the long jump, shot put, relay race and running races. One student, Rasanjalee, came first in two events - 400 metres and 1500 metres! Rasanjalee was thrilled with her achievements as were her teachers and her family. Her success is a wonderful example of the essential role Cotagala School plays in developing the talents of those who attend and why your donation is so important.

When Rasanjalee was 11, her class teacher told her parents that she was very behind in her studies and that her current school were unable to continue to teach her. Rasanjalee comes from a family of six girls, and although her parents struggled to earn a living and support all their children, they realised the value and future prospects of a good education and had attempted to instil this sentiment in all their children.

Her parents, desperate for her to access education, were finally referred to Cotagala School when they visited the local education department, requesting assistance. Arriving at the school in 2011, it was noted that Rasanjalee had some reading and writing difficulties as well as delayed development in other areas. However, she showed a keen interest in learning as well as great skill in dancing and sports. Over the years, Rasanjalee’s teachers have seen her academic skills develop and her confidence in her own abilities blossom. She has won many dancing and sporting competitions and had the opportunity to travel to India, Macaw and Dubai due to her success in these events.  Fast forward to the present day, due to the specialist support given at Cotagala, Rasanjalee is now preparing for her O levels.

Her family are very proud of all that Rasanjalee has achieved and look forward to the school holidays when she goes back to her village to stay with them. Her mother remarks, “We know that my daughter would never have achieved all that she has, were it not for the support provided by her teachers at Cotagala School. I remain truly grateful for all that the school has done to support her with her difficulties and develop her talents.”

The second term of 2018 has now finished. Some of the children have returned to their families. Others, whose families are not in contact, have stayed on at the school where a core team of teachers and carers has also remained for the holidays. We’ll keep you posted on the 3rd and final term of the year.  Special thanks to you all again for your support!

How you can continue to support people like Rasanjalee:

To date we have raised $12,800 for Cotagala School. This provides funding for the annual salaries of 11 teachers! We are just over $2,000 away from achieving our target of being able to fund ALL the teacher salaries for 2018 through Global Giving.

Every $ makes a difference so please do consider making another donation, setting up a recurring donation or sharing our campaign with your friends!

You can also subscribe to our newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/ddtl59

Cookery
Cookery
In the classroom
In the classroom
Rasanjalee and friends
Rasanjalee and friends

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May 21, 2018

New beginnings and showcasing talent

Thanuje
Thanuje

The last 3 months has been a flurry of activity as the school year progresses and the children and the young people who attend Cotagala School continue to develop their academic, independent and vocational skills. 

There have been many special events, both at the school and in the community.  For example, Cotagala School students participated in the sports days of other local schools.  It is a delight to see the children at Cotagala compete and win against their ‘mainstream’ counterparts.  These type of events are also good for greater inclusion and Cotagala School is very much involved with other school and community events in the area. In other activities, the school band participated in public performances and students also took part in a charitable sports event in Colombo where they won 8 bronze, 7 silver and 6 gold medals!

Thanuje, an 11 year old boy with a learning disability, sat the ‘Grade 5 scholarship exam’ this year and won a special award for his achievement from the Education Department.  This is a competitive exam for all 11 year olds in the country and we are all pleased that he did so well. 

In April, at the beginning of the second term, three new children started school at Cotagala.  These were children who had grown up at the Infants Home and had developed enough independent skills to start their formal education at Cotagala.  One of the children who started, Upuni, is a little girl with Down’s syndrome.  She remains in contact with her mother but due to extremely difficult personal circumstances, she is not able to care for her full-time.  Her carers at the Infants Home have supported her early years development well and she is happy and confident little girl.  Upuni is already settled at Cotagala and used to the new routine.  She has bonded well with her teacher and main carers.  Friendships with other students are also developing well. 

In further news, we are delighted that Dinushi, who was mentioned in our previous report, has made it through to the second round of a national televised show called ‘Sri Lanka’s got talent!’.  A short preview of her first television appearance is here:

Dinushi

Thank you once again for all your support and do get in touch if you would like any further information.  If you would like to receive occasional updates from us and our annual newsletter, please do subscribe here:

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Saveena
Saveena
Upuni in her new classrrom
Upuni in her new classrrom

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Feb 21, 2018

Enable, develop, sustain!

Dear Prithipura Communities supporter,

We are delighted to present you with our first report via Global Giving to give you an update on the important work at Cotagala School that enables children and young people with disabilities to access appropriate learning opportunities and develop independent living skills.

In the last 3 months, as well as the usual school routine and class activities, there have been many activities and external events that the children and young people in the school have been involved in, that are excellent examples of how the teachers at the school encourage greater inclusion in society, as well as promoting a positive view of disability in the community. Celebrations for International Day of Persons with Disabilities in December included dance performances at two events where around 30 children and young people participated. School students have also visited the local temple for a community celebration. Furthermore, children and young people at the school have also participated in local and national sporting events and the biggest highlight this period was in December, when Rasanjalee travelled to Dubai to participate in the Asian Youth Para Games in 3 events – 400 metres, 1500 metres and the long jump.

“ I love my school and the friends that I have here. I enjoy art work and love travelling to different places in Sri Lanka. I enjoyed spending Christmas at the Infants Home where I first grew up and spent time with my ‘Amma' , Pushpa, who first looked after me when I was born.”

A happy smiley girl, Dinushi, now aged 11, has really bloomed at Cotagala School. Born with a severe physical disability, doctors told her parents that she wouldn’t survive long and advised them to bring her to Prithipura so that she could receive specialist care. Dinushi’s parents found their daughter’s disability particular difficult to get used to due to the fact that there remains massive stigma towards those with disabilites, particularly in rural areas of Sri Lanka. Their extended family rejected her and refused to give them support. So she came to Prithipura, to the Infants Home initially and then to Cotagala School when she was of school age. Against all odds, she thrived and her health has never been better! Her physical disability limits her mobility but she has never let this hold her back. Dinushi has learnt to write by holding a pen in her mouth and also loves to draw and paint. She has won many art competitions with her artistic creations. At present, Dinushi is learning to sew using her mouth. Dinushi participates enthusiastically in dance and sporting activities and her teachers create an environment where she is able to be included in these activities. In January, she was chosen to participate in a national TV show called ‘Sri Lanka’s got talent!’ and we are all looking forward to when the show is aired!

Happily, Dinushi’s mother and father remain in close contact with her. They still face issues with extended family and feel unable to care for her at home at the moment but do their best to support her. The tears that they shed when she was first born have turned to happy and proud smiles when they see all that she has achieved.

Funds raised through Global Giving in December mean that 8 teachers and carers salaries are now funded for 2018. Thanks to all of you who have supported this important cause. Siri, the School Principal wanted to send special thanks to all of you:

“Hard to see at first, our children our like blooming flowers. Our job is not to let them wilt! Your support is like a cool, quiet stream that flows to us, rejuvenating all that we do.”

If you would like to further support our project, you may like to consider setting up a recurring donation. At present, we receive $120 on a monthly basis in recurring donations and we would love to increase this. As you know, to continue providing educational opportunities and skills for independent living, sustainability is key and recurring donations is one of the ways we can secure this. Also, please don’t forget if you are a UK tax payer, you can select to claim Gift Aid and Global Giving will process this on our behalf.

Thank you once again for your support with our work. Please do contact me if you have any comments, feedback or suggestions!  

With very best wishes,

Katherine de Kretser

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