Helping East Lanka Progress (HELP) was set up as a trust by Dr Vip Thiagarasah in August 2005 to relieve the suffering of victims affected by the devastating tsunami of December 2004 on the East Coast of Sri Lanka. It received charitable status from the Charity Commission on 19 September 2005 (registered charity no 1111363 - further information available at www.charitycommission.gov.uk ).
The origins of HELP!
In the weeks preceding the devastating tsunami of December 2004, Dr Thiagarasah had been touring North and Eastern Sri Lanka on a charitable football tour. A number of the towns and villages he had visited were badly affected by the tsunami and his father lost two cousins in the tragedy. This drove Vip to organise a mission to the East Coast of Sri Lanka in January 2005 with the aim of providing emergency medical aid to those affected. He resigned his post at St Bartholomew's hospital in London and put together a party of 22 medics from London teaching hospitals to travel to the East Coast at their own expense.
The mission was a great success. Based in a hospital in Thirrikuvil, the team provided invaluable assistance and medical equipment to hospital staff who had been completely overwhelmed by the demands of the tsunami.
On his return to the UK, Dr Thiagarasah decided that there was a need to finance longer term projects in the region, specifically focussing on the needs of the children, many of whom had been orphaned or traumatised by the tsunami. He therefore arranged a second visit to the region in July 2005, accompanied by two friends (Alan Ball and Andrew Schneidau) with the aim of identifying viable longer term projects.
Again, this short mission was a great success with a number of extremely worthwhile projects identified (see here). Local banking arrangements were put in place to ensure that funds would be employed only on the projects identified and strong links were forged with a locally based charity (Community Focused Disaster Response - CFDR) to manage the projects.
Helping East Lanka Progress (HELP!) was set up as a trust in August to manage the projects identified. Charitable status for the trust was granted in September 2005.
The Objectives of HELP!
The Objectives of HELP! can be described very simply - to provide assistance to the families, and specifically the children, of East Lanka who have suffered as a result of the tsunami. The principle upon which the charity operates is equally as simple - ALL funds raised by the charity will be spent in East Lanka on projects identified by its trustees. There have not been, and will not be, any administrative fees incurred by the charity- everyone involved with HELP offers their services on a voluntary basis and the banking arrangements have been set up specifically to ensure that all funds transferred to Sri Lanka will go directly to the worthwhile causes identified by the trustees.
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Girls Home Sewing Centre
In 2010, HELP acquired 5 Singer sewing machines for the Amman Mahaleer girls home and paid for teachers to provide training in dress making and sewing for the older girls and single mothers in the village. Read more »
Prior to a visit in July 2009, HELP had been informed of the plight of a children’s safe house in Ampara and was asked if we would be prepared to support it. Read more »
Working with our colleagues in Komari, HELP has set up a community-based garden project in the village. Read more »
The Swami Vipulananda Children's Home in Akkraiapattu provides a safe haven to 30 boys orphaned by the tsunami and/or the civil war. Read more »
HELP has been actively providing medical and other equipment to the local hospital in Thirrukovil, which services a large population of Ampara District.
Read more »
Following a very generous donation from YEAR 7 of The Latymer School (Edmonton UK), HELP has funded the building of two children's playgrounds in Komari. Read more »
Following their visit to Sri Lanka last year to see our projects, two of our keenest supporters, Ros and Malcolm Nattrass, have kindly offered to open up their (stunning) gardens to friends and family to raise money for HELP. We'll post photos after the event and hope the weather is kind on the day...
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have arranged to fund the bank accounts of 19 of the young girls at the Amman Mahaleer girls home to provide them with a start in life when they leave at the age of 18. The donors have agreed to provide Rps50,000 to each of the girls (c£250) over a period of up to three years. We have informed the Principal of the Home that we are keen to provide similar support to any new girls who join the home.
We should pay huge thanks to Jean Campbell and Helen Wiltshire, teachers at the King Edward VI grammar school in Chelmsford, for running the bric-a-brac stall at the school's annual Summer and Christmas fayres on behalf of HELP. Over the years, this has raised several hundred pounds for which we are very grateful.
Thanks to two very generous donations from Doreen Cooper (mother in law of our treasurer) and Dr Malcom and Ros Anfiligoff. we have been able to inform the girls Home to commence work on a small extension to the Home to provide a vocational training centre. The girls will use this for their computer studies and for their sewing centre lessons. The local village will also use it for teacher training.
Following a visit by Trustees. we arranged for electricity to be connected to the Amman pre-school and bought them some cabinets for the children's book and personal effects. We also agreed to pay for new clothes for all of the girls in the Amman Mahaleer girls home and to buy their school books.