The first visit to Samanala Pre-School revealed a shabby building with few saving graces. Children’s art work hung on the walls trying to cover the hundreds of holes but the walls still looked tired with dirty, chipped paint. The simple cement floor was so thin that in many places the dirt ground beneath was exposed. Twenty years ago the floor was probably smooth but has become rough and covered with cracks and holes. The state of the floor was terrible but since the school has only a handful of chairs, most of which are damaged, many of the children spend their lessons sitting on this floor.
The tiled roof leaked and in places the wooden rafters were completely rotten, at risk of collapsing in bad weather. The single toilet, accessed from the back of the building was damaged beyond repair.
The village suffers from poverty with most inhabitants undertaking casual work or small scale farming. There is a poverty alleviation group looking at ways to improve the lives of the families here. This is just one of the community groups who use the pre-school for meetings. Like many schools in Sri Lanka, Samanala pre-school is very much the centre of the community and the residents find it symbolic that the building is in such dire condition.
Working with the local community and using the expertise of the carpenter living next door to the school and the hardworking and ever-smiling village mason this project will remove and replace the floor, undertake repairs to the walls and roof and provide furniture for all children.
The funding for the repairs comes from the children of Sibford School in Oxford, UK with proceeds from a staff raffle at a London Association funding the furniture.