Special Needs Classroom at Dehigahalanda

Children from the Hambanthota region with disabilities and special needs now have an even better chance than before to school and receive specialized education catered to their needs at the special needs unit Dehigahalanda Maha Vidyalaya which was recently renovated and refurbished by the Foundation of Goodness together with the CIMA Students Society.

Melissa Fernando, Nushara Allang, Shehan Senanayake, Romareo Schokman, Abdul Qadeer , Shaakir Shibthy, Amjad Rahim who make up the sustainability  group of the CIMA Students Group, Sri Lanka met up with FoG Founder/ Chief Trustee Kushil Gunasekera for an ambitious yet altruistic venture. Having researched the plight of special needs children in Sri Lanka they were shocked by the limited resources made available to these children, who are often seen as an ‘invisible population’ because of the lack of information that can be found about them. Therefore their needs are often overlooked, and parents with special needs children, especially from poverty stricken backgrounds, are often at a loss as to how they can secure their children’s future.

The main motivation for this initiative was the appreciation that the CIMA Students Society had for the value of education, and how it helps to carve out new paths and possibilities to improve one’s life. Alarmed by the limited access special needs children had to education, they launched the ‘Education beyond Ability’ initiative under the belief that ability should not be a limiting factor towards exercising the right to education.

In the recent years the Foundation of Goodness has been steadily increasing its activity with special needs children, to help them have better access to resources and we were very eager to join with the CIMA Students Society to make a difference. When Kushil discussed this idea with one of our most staunch supporters, Dr. Nagendran from USA who is already involved in many humanitarian endeavours carried out by the Foundation of Goodness such as sustainability for the Village Heartbeat Centre in Mathagal, Jaffna, the Essential School Supplies programme for rural students and providing bikes to children and youth from the north and east who don’t have any means of transport to travel long distances to school, he was eager to come on board as a sponsor.

The Students Society had identified Dehigahalanda Maha Vidyalaya as the ideal place to support, as they already had a Special Needs Unit installed which was badly in need of refurbishment. The renovations needed included tiling the floors, re-plastering the walls and installing electricity at the class as well as providing new equipment necessary for a good standard of teaching.
Leading the class would be teacher Ms. Udari Ranaweera. She had originally been a PT teacher but her desire to work with special children meant that she had pursued qualifications in this field, including diplomas in Special Education at both the Open University of Sri Lanka and the National Institute of Education as well as a Brail Certification Course and Sign Language Diploma also from the National Institute of Education.

Re-opened on the 12th of February after being fully renovated and refurbished, the class is attended by 22 students with learning disabilities, autism, ADHD, low vision, hearing deficiency, Cerebral Palsy and Downs Syndrome. The classroom has been outfitted to the different needs of the students and they are guided towards gaining basic skills that will be of great help to them.

A big thank you goes out to the School Relief Initiative including Directors Ms. Jackie Horne, Mr. Jonathan Back, Mr. Steve Ervin & Mr. Mark Bucknal as well as Project Manager Mr. Jayasinghe for promoting this special cause and all the support provided.

We are delighted to have been able to join with the CIMA Students Society and the School Relief Initiative, with the wonderful support of our sponsor Dr. Nagendran, to give these very special children the best possible chance for a bright future!


23rd February 2017



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