The Foundation of Goodness is a holistic rural development model that seeks to bridge the urban-rural divide in Sri Lanka via 10 empowerment divisions across 900+ villages island-wide, and reached over 307,000+ beneficiaries in 2022 alone by way of 15 Empowerment Centres, free of cost.

Tides of Peace, Bridging the North and the South: Visit of the Manipay Local Council

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Nestled within the Jaffna peninsula, the Manipay locality is one of historic and cultural significance. Home to a large number of long-standing academic institutions, like the Manipay Hindu College boasting over a hundred-year history, the area has a vibrant population of school going children and youth.

The Local Council of Manipay had long been discussing the need to open a Sports Centre for the area, enabling the younger generation to equip themselves with vital skills and hone their natural talent. What was missing was the know-how to build and manage such a Centre. On the recommendation of Mr. J. Charitha Ratwatte, Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister, a visit to the South of Sri Lanka was organized where the Manipay Local Councilors could observe a similar operation and glean important knowledge since a kind donor from USA was willing to provide them with an Aquatic Centre.

The Foundation of Goodness (FoG) was a natural choice for this visit, as an example of a community-based institution, run independently and successfully for the past 20 years. Furthermore, FoG boasts an exciting array of national and international level sportsmen and sportswomen produced through the Sports Academy, in a variety of disciplines. FoG works to discover and hone hidden talent and skills of rural athletes, providing them with the opportunities to shine.

The Foundation’s flagship model is situated in the South Coast of Sri Lanka and hosts volleyball, netball, table tennis, swimming, chess, cricket, badminton and swimming training programmes for girls and boys in the area. All facilities and training are provided free of charge and the sportsmen and women are regularly exposed to coaching from national and international coaches and volunteers.

The Manipay Local Councilors toured the Seenigama Sports Academy resources and observed the gym, clubhouse, sports office, Bryan Adams Swimming Pool Complex, Volleyball and Netball courts and the Surrey sponsored cricket venue and outdoor cricket nets. FoG also shared with the visitors their ongoing plans for Sri Lanka’s very first bat repair unit.

FoG Founder/ Chief Trustee Kushil Gunasekera shared the challenging journey of the Foundation which rose from the devastating tragedy of the 2004 Tsunami to become a beacon of opportunity and prosperity for rural Sri Lankans.

FoG Sports Director, Anura De Silva, shared the methodology and operational knowledge of the day to day running of the Sports Academy and the management principles followed in this venture of community development.

Speaking on behalf of the 33 local counsellors that visited the Foundation, A. Japanesan Chairman of the Valikamam South West Pradeshiya Sabha, Manipay said, ‘Manipay Pradeshiya Sabha is surprised to visit the Foundation of Goodness and their good activities. In the meantime, we are shocked by Mr. Kushil Gunasekera’s leadership and we are happy that Foundation of Goodness is giving their contribution to our Pradeshiya Sabha. We are thankful to Mr. Charitha Ratwatte Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister and the kind donor from USA for recommending and introducing the Foundation of Goodness to us.’

This historic visit between the North and South of the island concluded over a delicious meal. ‘The visit alone for all of the 33 members was the 1st of its kind to a Southern village. The reconciliation aspect bridging the divide was of immense value and what a meaningful day for us as the hosts seeing the smiles of joy on the faces of our brethren from the North.’ said Kushil Gunasekera, while gearing for further collaboration with Manipay, subject to the MOU being signed with the Local Council and the potential donors agreeing to fund the facility.

This visit marks the first step in a long term collaboration where the Foundation will provide technological support and facilitate the building of Sports Resources in the North of Sri Lanka. This is not the first time that FoG has undertaken a goodwill exchange between the North and the South with regular exchanges being conducted between the children and youth from FoG Centres in the North and South. FoG also conducts Tamil Language classes in the Centres in the South, while Sinhala Language classes are conducted in the North Centres. One of the highlights of the Foundation has been the Murali Cup hosted in the North for 5 consecutive years, connecting budding cricketers from across the nation, bringing many smiles to the community and strengthening the path towards reconciliation and peacebuilding.

‘In the end, reconciliation is a spiritual process, which requires more than just a legal framework. It has to happen in the hearts and minds of people.’ – Nelson Mandela

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