The Foundation of Goodness is committed to providing the opportunities for women to develop skills that will help them at home, in their community and in their future lives. With a particular emphasis on empowerment of women and children, it is hoped that by providing facilities and training that is usually only available to more affluent families in urban areas, the gap will slowly be bridged between village and city, bringing benefits to all and enabling the development of rural communities.
On 27th June 2009, the full range of work delivered by the Foundation of Goodness in Seenigama for the benefit of 20,000 people from over 25 villages was in full display. In particular focus was the Women's Enterprise & Empowerment (WEE) work, which boasted two graduations ceremonies,
with one batch graduating from the Seenigama MCC Centre of Excellence WEE Centre, and the other from the Udumulla Village Heartbeat Centre.
The WEE provides programmes of classes and courses over a six month period, including sewing, patchwork, beralu lace making, cookery and deserts. Classes are run by local trainers in well equipped facilities and approximately 300 students per year graduate after completing one or more of the six month courses which are graciously sponsored by International Youth Foundation (USA)/Nokia to provide opportunities for women to develop skills and confidence to help them at home and in finding employment or set up their own income generation projects.
The MCC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE WOMEN’S ENTERPRISE & EMPOWERMENT CENTRE has seen 739 women graduate since the first courses were completed in October 2007. This was the fourth graduation ceremony, with the most students so far at 182 from 15 villages in the Seenigama region. Graduates included 35 from the Beauty Culture class, 46 from Sewing, 45 from Bakery, 30 from General Cookery, 13 from Patchwork and 13 from Beralu lacework.
As part of their courses students are encouraged to undertake their own community aid work to give back to their villages while benefiting from the WEE courses free of cost. This quarter, students clubbed together to help a Children’s Goodness Club student’s family make an initial payment for purchase of a house, paid for a poor elderly lady to have an eye operation, bought a poor elderly lady a pair of spectacles and in addition, our Cookery class students gave lunch to the orphan girls at Anula Wijerama Girls' Home.
The graduation ceremony was presided over by chief guest, Mrs Nayana Karunarathne, the famous Beautician and proprietor of 13 salons, 10 locally & 03 in India. She addressed the graduates on "SELF ESTEEM & CONFIDENCE”, encouraging the women to follow their dreams and ambitions despite the barriers that they feel might be in their way, having been given this great opportunity to learn new skills.
On this occasion we organized the graduation ceremony differently to the previous ones. It was more of a workshop where the students performed their skills & talent in their respective areas and the instructors were interviewed along with a student and certificates awarded by the Chief Guest & Mr Kushil Gunasekera, Founder/Trustee of the Foundation of Goodness. Kushil mentioned that such an amazing project could not have materialized if not for the generosity of the International Youth Foundation in the US supported by Nokia who structure their programmes very effectively with lots of expertise from them as well as close monitoring systems to upgrade the standards and quality of students which is remarkable.
On the same day, the VILLAGE HEARTBEAT CENTRE in Udumulla celebrated the graduation of 43 students in Dress-making and Cookery under the Women’s Enterprise & Empowerment Programme. There were 17 students from the Cookery Course and 26 from the Dress-making course. All the students exhibited some of their creations at the VHP Community Centre where the graduation took place. After the presentation of certificates, everyone was invited to a ‘Sangrahaya’ of delectable refreshments prepared by the graduating students.
These graduation ceremonies have been hailed as the best yet by FoG Founder and Trustee Kushil Gunasekera, who said “I must admit that the women's graduation held on Saturday the 27th of June was one of the best we have had so far and congratulations all round for the manner in which it was presented collectively by all of you which showcased the way Foundation of Goodness makes things happen. I was very proud and it meant that a lot of hard work and planning had gone into the project which certainly impressed our Chief Guest, Nayana Karunarathne the beautician and all other guests who attended the function. “
“Education remains the key to both economic and political empowerment”