Scholarship recipients update

The following article in this week’s Sunday Times gives the status of one of 34 recipients of the scholarships financed by the proceeds of 2010’s Country Roads. The 34 three-year education scholarships are being administered by the Sevana Sarana Fund, a part of Sri Lanka’s Department of Probation and Child Care Services, in conjunction with Save the Children and the Country Music Foundation.

CMF gives a bright lad hope for the future

Don Sandun Jeewendra is 12 years old and the youngest of a family of three. He lives with his parents and two elder sisters in Kitulgoda South in Agalawatte, and last year came under a scheme supported by the Country Music Foundation (CMF), a non-profit organisation that has for the past 23 years supported the needs of low income children through music.

Sandun’s father is a daily paid labourer and the mother is unemployed. According to Save the Children Sri Lanka officials, Sandun’s mother Indra Dayawathie was diagnosed with a brain tumour which needed urgent surgery in 2009.

This meant that Indra would not have been able to work to support the family and she was concerned about her children’s education particularly the youngest. “Through the Grama Sevaka of the area she made a request to the National Commissioner of Probation and Child Care to help Sandun with his education,” said Head of Child Rights Governance/Media and Communications at Save the Children, Menaca Calyaneratne, who visited the family recently.

Last year, she received a positive response saying that a donor had come forward through the Sevana Sarana Fund to help him. This is how Sandun became one of the 33 children whom the Country Music Foundation undertook to sponsor for three years, following the Country Roads Concert in 2010.

Sandun goes to the Kitulgoda Primary School in Agalawatte and attends school regularly. The probation officer of the area monitors his education by making regular visits to the school and meeting his teachers and the principal. The money to support his education has been credited to his own account and his mother can withdraw Rs 500 a month to be utilized for his education. This too is being monitored by the Probation Officer.

“My favourite subject is mathematics,” says Sandun. “He does sums when he is bored too,” says his sister Nimasha. Sandun is a good athlete and has won many certificates at the school sports meets. One of the most interesting certificates he has received is the one for using the government-issued text books with care.

Sandun has also taken up gardening and has a few vegetables growing in his little garden on a hill. He waters the plants everyday andhelps with the household chores. “The financial support we have received through the Sevana Sarana Fund, has been such a strength. If we did not receive the money, I don’t know how I could have sent him to school. I would have had to send him to a children’s home just to receive an education, and I would have had to do that against my conscience,” said Indra.

The CMF has not only been able to give a bright young boy an education, but most importantly ensured that Sandun stays within the happy and safe environment of his family, noted Menaca. Since 1988, the CMF has raised over Rs 5 million for children’s work across Sri Lanka working with many charities.

From its 2010 fund-raising concert, the CMF last month also donated Rs 50,000 to Halpathota Home for Children to continue funding the costs of an English and Music teacher in a project organised by Chrysalis, an organisation of ex-UNICEF employees.

Where the proceeds of our 2010 concert went

CMF officials including President Feizal Samath discussing the project with the DPCSS and SCiSL. Pix by Sanka Vidanagama

CMF Vice President Jury Majid (inside right) handing over the cheque to DPCCS National Commissioner D.M.S. Abayagunawardana (inside left) in the presence of Shamana Rajabdeen from SCiSL (left) and Nirmale Tangalla from the DPCCS (right). Pix by Sanka Vidanagama

CMF in 3-year initiative to support vulnerable children

Sri Lanka’s Country Music Foundation (CMF), a not-for-profit organization raising funds for needy children through music, the Department of Probation and Child Care Services (DPCCS) and Save the Children in Sri Lanka (SCiSL) – in a tripartite agreement in early May (2010) – launched a 3-year project to help a group of needy children.

In probably the biggest single donation in recent times from a dedicated Sri Lanka organization for this programme, the CMF presented a cheque for Rs 500,000 to the DPCCS to support the education of 25 children for three years from May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2013.

Three children will be selected from each province across Sri Lanka and provided Rs 6,000 per year/per child or Rs 500 per month for three years to help fund their education. The funding under the Department’s Sevana Sarana Foster Parents Scheme was made possible through funds raised by the CMF from its annual concert series – COUNTRY ROADS 18th- held in February this year.

The Mavericks, among Germany’s popular country bands, Astrid & Amelia from the UK, Ranjit Vethakan from Australia together with Sri Lanka’s Country Revival Band and Anno Domini were the headline acts at this year’s fun-filled country festival and fair on February 20. Every year the CMF holds its annual country music concert to raise funds for children and to-date, since the inaugural concert in 1988, it has raised close to six million rupees in cash and other contributions and donated it to charities like SCiSL and UNICEF for thousands of Sri Lanka children.

The agreement was signed by CMF Founder/ President Feizal Samath, DPCCS National Commissioner D.M.S. Abeygunawardene and SCiSL Country Director Prasanta Kumar Naik.

The Sevana Sarana Fund is an education sponsorship scheme which enables the public to support a vulnerable child for a period of one year and beyond. It supports children who are most marginalized and at risk of being put into an institution. Launched by the late Prime Minister and President President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1988, the fund is now dependent on private funds while the monitoring and management is handled and (this part financed) by the department, which provides regular reports to donors who are also encouraged to visit these children and help in any other way is need.

Currently over 18,500 vulnerable children across Sri Lanka are supported under this programme supported by 15,000 individuals and institutions. Donors include foreign organizations and families from countries like Australia, Canada, Belgium and France.

Over the past three years, the CMF has worked with SCiSL to support projects involving building libraries, special programmes for children and now education. SCiSL is helping the department to create more awareness about the programme and help more vulnerable children. Officials from both the DPCCS and SCiSL urged other Sri Lankans and institutions to also financially support this foster parent programme which costs just Rs 6,000 per child per year. Further details could be obtained from Feizal Samath at email: or tel: 0777 728590