The Village Heartbeat Project Rathgama

The Village Heartbeat Project is the nucleus of the philosophy and ethos of the foundation’s commitment to narrow the gap between urban and rural Sri Lanka. The creation of a basic centre with the access to the absolute essential programmes for empowering rural communities can prove to be a game changer in the fight against rural isolation and poverty.

In August 2007 the first Village Heartbeat was opened in Udumulla, a small and very poor rural village near Hikkaduwa. At the heart of this education and empowerment initiative was a library, a computer training centre, and a community hall to teach English and women’s sewing skills. When the classes are over, the Centre is used for village clubs and public meetings. Qualified teachers instruct groups of students who share their passion for learning and overseas volunteers work with them to develop new skills. Programmes are run free of charge and are open to all who wish to attend from the surrounding villages.

In 2010 FoG was requested by Lanka Japan Friendship Society to take over the rather run down community centre at Monroviya Estate, Rathgama. It was decided that the best course of action would be to replicate the now successful village heartbeat concept which was in operation at Udumulla.

At both Village Heart Beat Centres, we conduct the core subjects - Microsoft office course, Kid's IT course, English, Mathematics, Dress Making and Patch work, Cookery, Children's Goodness Club, Library and a Home Garden. The beneficiaries can attend the advance courses at the MCC Centre of Excellence, if they wish to continue after completing the core courses at these Village Heart Beat Centres.

There are spiritual enhancing, meditation, leadership training, team building, community engaging activities, cultural, social and religious programmes to enrich the communities which surround these centres.

Last year the Rathgama Village Heartbeat Project (VHP) celebrated its 2nd anniversary and since its inception it has grown in to a thriving and busy village hub whose participants are some of the most active and involved FoG members. In addition to the English, IT, cookery and sewing/ patchwork classes the Rathgama VHP also hosts a Children’s Goodness Club, library, maintain a home-garden where they cultivate crops and are involved in eco-friendly activities such as rain water harvesting. The community of VHP members also comes together to celebrate special occasions like the dawning of the New Year, Independence Day and important religious ceremonies or in order to carry out cleaning campaigns at the Centre and nearby public venues. The Centre has also conducted maternity clinics for the benefit of new and expectant mothers.

Last year, for the first time, we had two volunteers (Davide and Sylvia from Italy) based exclusively in Rathgama in order to dedicate all of their time and energy towards working with the staff and VHP members in order to fine tune all the activities that were taking place. They conducted classes on preparing authentic Italian pizzas and had activities for the kids every morning and evening. Part of their plan to elevate the standard of spoken and written English was to introduce games like ‘guess what?’ and use graphic programs on the computer to paint and write the English vocabulary.

The Rathgama VHP is the perfect example of the vision that Founder Kushil Gunasekera had when first introducing the idea of the Village Heartbeat model. It acts as the central nervous system which pumps out lifeblood in to communities too small or too rurally situated to receive the direct help of big development projects such as the MCC Centre of Excellence. We are delighted with the progress made so far and hope one day to be able to replicate this model in more and more villages in need of assistance.


" All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual"



– Albert Einstein








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