Diaspora Lanka Report : 28 September to 31 December 2013 – Part 5

3.3 Computerizing Mannar Villages (CMV)

Selection of students from Pudukuduirippu

Selection of students from Pudukuduirippu

To address the inequities between urban and rural areas within Mannar District and to provide a solid foundation of computer, IT and English ability for young people, two CMV centres have been established in Vidathaltheevu (Catholic) and Pudukudiruppu (Muslim) villages. Computer training and English language classes are being run for children and young people to serve as a basis for a brighter future. The CMV program is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative of ITP and is being coordinated by Kamal Raj and Al Hathir.

english class

English class at Vidathaltheevu

Activities summary from the last visit to Sri Lanka
• Volunteers Huyen Lai (Vietnam) and Mirjam Link (Estonia) ran a December vacation program for school-aged children from the two villages, combining English learning and fun activities.
• Children’s Day was celebrated in style at Pudukuduirippu with student presentations of poetry, stories, song and dance.

3.4 Chamber capacity building

Karnan, Roy and Siyam (CEO), Mannar Chamber

Karnan, Roy and Siyam (CEO), Mannar Chamber

Diaspora Lanka assists the Mannar Chamber of Commerce to respond to the business and training challenges of their membership across diverse sectors (commerce, primary production, industry) by financially contributing towards staff salaries and assisting with program planning.

Chamber of Commerce Board members

Chamber of Commerce Board members

Activities summary from the last visit to Sri Lanka
• Negotiated the use of the Chamber premises as a base of operation for Diaspora Lanka
• Held several meetings with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to promote and request funds for the “Vision Mannar” proposal which aims to:
o develop and promote high quality Mannar products for export and tourist markets (eg. rice, dry fish, salt, palmyrah products);
o build the capacity of a small number of SMEs to produce export quality items; and
o reduce regional poverty and high unemployment particularly for vulnerable groups.
• Worked closely with Chamber staff to develop new projects and find funding.

Next steps
• Develop a detailed project proposal and budget for the UNDP that incorporates their feedback from the initial presentation.

How you can help
• Assist the Chamber to explore funding options to cover the AU$170 rent for the premises.
• Volunteer to conduct “developing a basic business plan” workshops for Chamber members.

Reflections

The Chamber of Commerce has now resolved the many issues that were affecting its output and performance. This has made way for Diaspora Lanka to resume close working relations with its initial partner in Mannar. This visit has consolidated and expanded upon the planning work undertaken with the Chamber earlier in the year. A vision for Mannar’s business sector, plus new income generating business proposals based on community and sustainable tourism has led to greater levels of support from the Government Agent of Mannar.

 

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