Scotsman’s Love for Sri Lanka helps Village School Get Back to Basics
Scotland’s Stewart Ritchie and his wife Heather first fell in love with Sri Lanka when they arrived in April 1985. Stewart, then working for Japan Airport Consultants, came as part of Phase I of the Katunayake International Airport Development Project. He and Heather were here until 1989.
March 2002, he again got a call inviting him back for Phase II which was due to start. Having had such a great time here in the ‘80s, they jumped at the chance to return, this time with their sons, Greig (13) and Scott (11). Their boys now attend the Asian International School in Colombo.
When the terrible events took place on the 26th of December 2004, they, like so many, were devastated with what had happened and tried to do whatever they could to help out.
They supported as many requests for help as were received, however Stewart felt there was more he could do if he tried to raise some more money by himself.
He then e-mailed friends and family back in Scotland, most of whom are in and around the Aberdeen area in the North East of Scotland. Initially he set a target of raising enough to supply 100 school bags for children, based on what he had seen done before by other groups here in Sri Lanka.
His appeal was much more successful than initially expected as he raised almost 3,000 pounds.
“My next concern was how to ensure that the monies were wisely spent and reached those most in need of some support,” Stewart says.
After discussions with his good friend Lalin Senadhira, Stewart was pointed in the direction of Kushil Gunasekera and the Foundation of Goodness. “I had previously met Kushil socially and was informed that he would ensure that whatever monies I had raised would most definitely go to those most in need.”
The process then started whereby Stewart received various lists of what was needed and from that, he then procured all that was required for Thotagamuwa school culminating in the delivery of all the items on a very successful day on Saturday the 26th of February (See Weekly Updates / Photo Gallery).
Stewart commended Kushil and Rushmi Perera, volunteer coordinator for the Foundation’s children’s needs, for the “excellent work they achieve via the Foundation.”
Although satisfied that they were able to help out Thotagamuwa School, after their visit to the area the Ritchie family now knows, first-hand, the extent of the devastation caused by the Tsunami and the amount of work that still remains to be done to get life there back to something like normality.
Stewart hopes that he can continue in some way to assist the Foundation with the work being done, knowing that no matter what the good of the people of the Seenigama area is their main priority.