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.

Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centre in Mahiyanganaya

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“What we do for ourselves dies with us.

What we do for others and the world remains immortal.”

The Foundation of Goodness (FoG) is dedicated to uplifting and empowering underprivileged rural communities in Sri Lanka. In taking our mission one step further, we recently opened our 15th Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centre in Mahiyanganaya, in the Badulla District. The newly established centre is located in Gurukumbura-Dambana in Mahiyanganaya and will serve over 400 underprivileged rural Sri Lankans from four nearby villages, including the indigenous Vedda community. 

The rural villagers of Mahiyanganaya have limited access to vital resources necessary to pursue educational and skills development programmes for a better future. Our efforts to empower and educate the rural communities in Mahiyanganaya were made possible through the generous sponsorship of our donors Nimmi Dharmaraja and Hemamala Fernando to renovate the building, with the setup cost for all necessary equipment sponsored by Simonas Trust Services (Pvt) Ltd, in memory of Dr. R. L. Spittel and his daughter, Christine Wilson. Dr. R. L. Spittel was one of the foremost experts on the Vedda community, and this centre will be of great benefit to those living in the region. The long-term sustainability of the Centre’s activities will be sponsored by Foundation of Goodness UK.

Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre declared open by Mr. Simon Senaratna and his wife

The opening ceremony of the Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre held on the 22nd of April 2023, was graced by Mr. Simon Senaratna, Precedent Partner of Simonas Trust Services (Pvt) Ltd and his wife as Chief Guests, along with Upul Kumara, Manager – Nature, Eco, and Sustainable Unit at Aitken Spence Travels Ltd as the Guest of Honor. Mr. Kushil Gunasekera, Founder and Chief Trustee of the Foundation of Goodness and Uruwarige Wannila Aththo, Leader of the Indigenous Vedda Community were also present at the ceremony. The distinguished guests received a warm and traditional welcome by Uruwarige Wannila Aththo, Leader of the Indigenous Vedda Community. 

Chief Guests – Mr. Simon Senaratna and his wife

Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre opening ceremony graced by Mr. Simon Senaratne and his wife, among other distinguished guests

“Today is a very special day for me and my family. We are born into this world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing, but our names. I have come to understand that our blessings are for giving back to the society and for its development. When we donate money for such development, we always have doubts about whether the money will be used for the right purposes. That is why we choose to donate to organizations that have done good work in terms of community development. When I met Mr. Kushil, I knew we could make donations without any issues. We partnered with the Foundation of Goodness in memory of Christine Wilson, a dear family friend. She was the loving daughter of Dr. R. L. Spittel, one of the most renowned surgeons that Sri Lanka has ever produced. Dr. Spittel dedicated his leisure time to researching and writing about the Sri Lankan Vedda community to preserve their legacy forever. During his lifetime, he was globally recognized for his research into the Vedda community,” explained Mr. Simon Senaratna.

“I have a message for the dear children who will benefit from this center. Please use this center well as it is for your benefit. I strongly believe that education is the most effective way to overcome poverty. Therefore, please use this facility that is dedicated to you correctly and to the best of your ability. This facility will enable you to dedicate your lives as talented youth, not only for the development of the country but also for the progression and upliftment of your own community, by connecting with other sections of society. I request you to use this facility and reap the maximum benefits.”

Mr. Simon Senaratne donated a collection of photographs featuring the Vedda community, taken by Dr. R. L. Spittel, as well as a set of books authored and published by Dr. R. L. Spittel, to the Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre.

Our distinguished guests received a warm welcome by Indigenous Vedda Community Leader Uruwarige Wannila Aththo

“As the world progresses towards development, it is important that we create a suitable environment for our children and youth to keep up with this progression that would positively impact the community and future generations. While the focus of this project is on the children of the indigenous community, we must also continue the legacy of the Sri Lankan Vedda community, which has a history of over 37,000 years. Rural development is crucial for progress, but so is the continuation of the ‘Vedda’ community,” remarked Uruwarige Wannila Aththo.

“We must progress towards development, but never forget our roots. Today, when there is development, people often forget about their nationality, country, religion, traditions and customs, and start living in a different world. If this happens, the purpose behind this great cause of uplifting rural communities will be lost. Therefore, I request our community to utilize these facilities with the right mindset.”

The Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre is a vital addition to our existing VHE centres, and it offers a diverse range of educational and empowerment programmes free of charge to the rural community in the area. These include English and Link Language Training, Computer and IT Training, Mathematics, Science, Primary Education, and vocational training in Dressmaking & Beauty Culture, as well as sports training in Volleyball & Table Tennis. The centre also offers programmes such as Children’s Good Values Initiatives, Planetary Health, Agriculture Entrepreneurship, STEM Education, and Coding. Our aim is to provide holistic education to rural youth and children from across the country and bridge the urban-rural divide.

Edward Edin, Director of FoG VHE Centres and North Development explaining about our empowerment work

Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre is equipped with a Computer Training Unit and a Volleyball Court among others

Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre is equipped with a Computer Training Unit and a Volleyball Court among others

“I launched the Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centre concept by harnessing the power of waves of compassion following the Tsunami disaster, and it has now expanded to 15 centers across Sri Lanka. Currently, more than 15,000 children and youth are benefiting from these centers. I strongly believe that Colombo is a country of its own, while the rest of the country is a separate entity. This is why I strive to provide equal opportunities and facilities to children and youth from such neglected rural areas. Over the last 25 years, hundreds of people have excelled in life by taking advantage of the opportunities provided to them by our foundation. Our nation is blessed with immense talent, and while each citizen is excellent individually, we struggle as a unit. Our actions should be guided by good intentions. As a non-politician, I have no hidden agendas and I never expect anything in return,” emphasized Kushil Gunasekera, in his address at the opening ceremony.

“It is important to balance education with essential principles such as honesty, selflessness, calmness, patience, and compassion. We should be self-critical and make necessary corrections to improve ourselves. By the end of this year, we aim to expand to 20 Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centers nationwide. If we do the right thing, we can undoubtedly achieve our goals and succeed in life. I encourage the staff of this VHE Center to prioritize doing the right thing, be organised when educating the children, and deliver lessons to the highest standards.”

It must also be mentioned that a library of books generously donated by FoG donors, Prianka Seneviratne and Nishantha Ruwanpura covering an array of subject areas such as science, environment, astronomy & general knowledge, as well as English novels and storybooks, were handed over to the library of the newly established Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre. We express our sincere gratitude to Prianka and Nishantha for their invaluable donation of books, which will undoubtedly help broaden the path to knowledge & education of many children, youth & women from rural Mahiyanganaya. 

Library at the Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre

Oftentimes, rural Sri Lankans struggle the most in terms of transportation, given the poor road network and the limited availability of public transport services. In a bid to overcome the challenges faced by the Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre staff in carrying out our humanitarian and empowerment activities, one of the brand new LanKroozE E-Bikes most generously donated to the Impact Centre of the Foundation of Goodness by Heinrich Lüthi-Studer (Ibee Studer) was handed over to this newly established centre. As LanKroozE E-Bikes are designed to make transportation more affordable & sustainable, it’ll enable our staff including Samitha Thennakoon, Coordinator – Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre to be more environmentally friendly when carrying out numerous projects for the benefit of the rural disadvantaged community in the area.

LanKroozE E-Bike handed over to Samitha Thennakoon, Coordinator of the Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre

The opening of the Mahiyanganaya VHE Centre represents a significant milestone for the Foundation of Goodness and brings us one step closer to fulfilling our mission of empowering rural Sri Lanka and providing equal opportunities for all, while we remain committed to making a lasting impact on the lives of those in need.

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