Project Safe Haven
A Flood Relief Project by the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka and the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago
The date 31st of May 2017 proved a most trying time for the good country of Sri Lanka when substantial parts of the country were hit by the worst floods in 13 years – with 12 out of the 25 districts of the country being underwater, 183 people killed and 600,000 people displaced from their homes.
The District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka under the leadership of the District Grand Master R. W. Henry Malin Goonetilleke and the Deputy District Grand Master W. Bro. Ferad Jamshed Nilgirya and Board of Benevolence of the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka embarked on a meaningful method of mitigating the damage experienced by the flood victims and the solution was the upgrading of the schools located in locations which are not submerged during the most intense flooding and central access for “to and fro” movements which meant that replenishment of supplies, evacuation of personnel and early attendance at work would go as unrestricted as possible.
In order to aid the victims of this natural calamity, an invitation was communicated by our District Board of Benevolence to the Worshipful Masters of all of our Lodges in our District to invite the Brethren to donate towards the “Sri Lanka Disaster Relief 2017 Fund”, and over the course of just 11 days, the Brethren from 38 Lodges enthusiastically came together to donate SGD49,769.00, which together with the wonderful donation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of South East Asia of SGD3,244.00, the donation from the Disaster Relief Fund of the District Board of Benevolence of SGD10,104.00 and donations from individual Brethren, a total of MYR200,000.00 (SGD70,000.00 approx.) was raised, and donated to the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka to assist in the flood relief efforts.
After the initial assistance of immediate aid had been rendered by our Brethren of the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka to assist the victims of the flood, the remaining funds were utilized by the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka to provide adequate facilities to schools which have been designated as temporary evacuation centers by the Government in order to ensure that displaced individuals would be provided with minimum living standards whilst simultaneously minimizing the disruption to student education during and after emergencies.
The Stake holders of the project are as follows:
The displaced personnel
The Provincial Department of Education, Ratnapura Region
District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka
United Grand Lodge of England
District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago
The District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka, working together with I Cert, identified that the rehabilitation of schools is project of Merit and proceeded towards its implementation together with all the stakeholders.
The name of the project is “Project Safe Haven”.
The District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka with the Provincial Department of Education and I-CERT – the first voluntary disaster response unit to be recognized by the Government of Sri Lanka, identified 11 schools which are located in the District of Ratnapura for the establishment of “Project Safe Haven”. The District of Ratnapura is almost annually inundated by floods and during the flooding of 2017 alone, some 65,000 people, of whom 26,000 were school going children, had to be housed in temporary shelters set up in government schools which currently remains the only option for sheltering the evacuees.
The Implementation Scope of PROJECT SAFE HAVEN:
Identifying the worst affected areas of flooding; and
the schools which could be upgraded to serve the dual purpose of providing education to the children whilst providing facilities to the displaced victims of natural disasters such as health facilities, proper sanitation, nutrition and comfortable shelter.
The upgrading of the facilities for 3 of the 11 schools have now been completed and the handing over ceremonies for 3 of the completed Schools has also been concluded.
Ellawella Pahalgama Vidyalaya School
The handing over ceremony was on the 18th October 2018 under the auspices of the Deputy District Grand Master W Bro Ferad Nilgiriya and the Brethren of The District Board of Benevolence, I Cert officials, The principal and staff of the school and students.
Niriella Punyananda Vidyalaya School and the Karadana Junior School
W. Bro. Mahen Perera, accompanied by our honored Brethren of the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka, handed over the newly built facilities to the Niriella Punyananda Vidyalaya School and the Karadana Junior School on Friday, 1st February 2019.
Pictures of the Commemorative Ceremonies for the handing over of the upgraded facilities of the Niriella Punyananda Vidyalaya School
It is indeed most gratifying for our Right Worshipful District Grand Master Yg. Bhg. Dato’ Jeyaraj Ratnaswamy and each and all of our Brethren of District Grand Lodge to observe the wonderful and meaningful opportunity which Freemasons of the Eastern Archipelago had so enthusiastically embraced in affording assistance to the flood victims in Sri Lanka as well as in the construction of the specifically equipped temporary evacuation centres, even more importantly so when such meaningful assistance had been carried out together with each and all of the Brethren of our District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka.
The establishment of such evacuation centres signals a lasting legacy by each and all of our Brethren in our District as well as by all of our Brethren in the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka, of aid and assistance to our fellow mortals in Sri Lanka, for now and well into the future.
The Commemorative Plaques signifying the completion of both the upgrading projects and the handover of the facilities to the relevant authorities
The happy children with their innocent smiles in the communities surrounding the Niriella Punyananda Vidyalaya School in the District of Ratnapura after the conclusion of the foregoing mentioned commemorative ceremony, looking more secure and hopeful for the future