Arthacharya Foundation: 25th Anniversary Celebrations
Established in 1992 Arthacharya Foundation celebrates its silver jubilee this year. Arthacharya was started at a time when the whole of third world was going through a wave of structural adjustments introduced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Though these changes were expected to bring about positive results in the long term the outcomes in the short term particularly for the poor were to be adverse. In brief, the anticipation was that poverty would increase in the short term unless actions were not introduced to mitigate the damage. It was quite natural in this context for the founders of Arthacharya Foundation to identify poverty alleviation as its primary goal.
Focusing on poverty Arthacharya works only for the poor who are the most marginal in a community whether it is rural or urban but not for all its members irrespective of their socioeconomic standing. During the entire period of 25 years Arthacharya has been continuously in a learning curve where it has always tried to understand the changing nature of poverty which depends on diverse set of socio-economic and political variables.
Arthacharya has identified six different groups of poor in Sri Lanka as their priority communities that need to be focused on. They are the rainfed farmer families in the dry zone who have no irrigation, urban slum dwellers, fishing communities along the coast, plantation communities of South Indian origin as well as the traditional communities sandwiched between plantations and Muslim communities displaced by the war.
The poverty reduction approach of Arthacharya offers microfinance as a key solution to the issue of poverty. Though the sustainable long term solution is increase of incomes for the poor through microfinance it simultaneously tries to address other interrelated issues such as nutrition and food security, environmental pollution, irrigation, water supply and sanitation as well as social issues such as high incidence of suicidesin certain areas and private tuition.
Arthacharya is pleased to announce that some of its programmes have developed to replicable models which even other institutions or programme could effectively replicate or learn from. Its microfinance programme functioning under Arthavida Intermediary Limited which is the microfinance arm of Arthacharya is completely a sustainable operation in financial terms. The participatory solid waste programme it introduced in Sri Lanka at the request of the World Bank 20 years ago is replicated today by many local authorities and NGOs. The vocational skills programme it developed is a low cost operation bringing rapid results to many underemployed youth. While the food security programme has effectively established a process of activities to revalorize small millet cultivation which is the main livelihood activity of the most marginal farmers in the dry zone the suicide prevention programme is the only of its kind based on a social approach treating suicides in the dry zone as a public health issue.
Arthacharya operates today through 16 branch offices in eight districts with its head office in Ratmalana. Benefitting more than 300,000 poor in project communities it works with a staff of 160 of which 70 percent are women.
During this period of 25 years the programmes of Arthacharya were supported mainly by CILCA International, Rabobank Foundation, Janasaviya Trust Fund, National Development Trust Fund and Sri Lanka Savings Bank, The World Bank, European Union, Asian Development Bank, UNDP, AusAID, Norad, CIDA, IDRC, USAID, ITDG, Etimos, GIZ, CHF International, Konrad Adeneaur Foundation, Ford Foundation, EFIM Foundation, Oxfam GB, Vebego Foundation, Cordaid and the Wild Geese Foundation.
Also it worked in close partnership with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Central Environment Authority, Ministry of Health as well as 16 Municipal Councils and Pradesheeya Sabhas.
Arthacharya has won a number of awards for the effective poverty reduction programmes that it has implemented. In the year 2000 Rabobank Foundation in the Netherlands selected Arthacharya as its best partner in the third world and awarded Dfl. 150,000 (US $ 100,000) in commemorating the centenary celebrations of Rabobank. In 2006 Microsoft selected it as one of the two best microfinance operations in Sri Lanka and awarded Rs. 8 million.
Wellawaya is a town situated in the Uva province belonging to the dry zone of Sri Lanka. A predominantly agrarian based region, it is home to many marginalised communities and has numerous financial and social disadvantages. The students of the Wellawaya area are therefore at a disadvantage as they live under very poor living conditions, in remote areas with little or no access to external educational support. Although there is free education at school level, private tuition coaching comes at a price. In fact those classes require a price that most of these communities are unable to afford. Education is a very important poverty alleviation tool, as it opens up many opportunities and avenues for socioeconomic development as it creates an opportunity for families to move up in social status and empowers them economically as well.
With the collaboration of Sampath Foundation, Arthacharya started the scholarship programme for university students in 2014. Dulanjali Gunawardhana ( Faculty of Law) , Lahiru Prasanna ( University of Moratuwa), Priyankara Chandana ( University of Peradeniya), Shiroma Aruni Kumari ( University of Ruhuna), Nuwan Tharanga ( University of Sri Jayawardhanapura), Nimmi Shalika ( University of Sabaragamuwa) who were financially funded for their O/Ls and A/Ls in the scholarship programme, entered the university this year.
Last week they were in Arthacharya Head office to collect their 1st scholarship funds. We had a very friendly meeting with the scholars and they were very happy and proud of themselves. They warmly express their gratitude for Sampath Foundation and Arthacharya Foundation.
Arthacharya Foundation’s New Logo
Arthacharya announces the launch of its new logo, which is an image of a conch.
Conch or Sankha in Sanskrit is symbolic of the social mobilisation process of Arthacharya. In Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, which are the three main ancient religions that shaped the culture of the subcontinent, the conch represents the beautiful, deep, melodious, interpenetrating, and pervasive sound of the dharma that awakens disciples from the deep slumber of ignorance and urges them to accomplish their own welfare and the welfare of others. Similarly, the social mobilisation process of Arthacharya awakens the ignorant poorest of the poor who, as a result, began to analyse their socioeconomic reality and develop and implement plans to alleviate it.
The warriors of ancient India blew conch shells to announce battle, as is described in the Mahabharata. The conch in Arthacharya’s context symbolises the announcement of its battle against poverty.
The third meaning of the conch is prosperity.
Shining Star ‘Dulanjali’
Our Education Scholar Dulanjali Gunawardhana has been selected to the Law Faculty in University of Colombo. Her success noted in the history that this is the first time in Wellawaya student got the opportunity to enter the Faculty of Law.
Let’s hear her story!
I am Dulanjali Gunawardhena and live in Kudaoya. It is a rural area. I have a brother and he is studying in grade 8. My parents are farmers and they cultivate vegetables. We are very poor family. I faced for A/L examination in 2015. I followed art subjects Sinhala, political science, Buddhist civilization. I have 3A passes. My district rank is 13. So now I have been selected to law faculty of the university of Colombo. I and my family impressed a lot to hear about my university.
I got more help from Arthacharya Foundation from the beginning. It was useful to pay for my tuition classes. My university dream would be just a dream if I was benefited from Arthacharya. I am thankful for Arthavida foundation and like to remind Mr. Egbert Hendriks and Ms Joke and all the staff members. They are very kind hearted persons, so precious time I have them.
Arthacharya Community Centre
Arthacharya Community Centre, a multiple place where it provides a shelter for the beneficiaries in Wellawaya, Sri Lanka
The Arthacharya Community centre was open to the public on 25th September 2015 by HE the ambassador Joanne Doornewaard and the distinguished guests. This was a great pillar project conducted by Arthacharya Foundation with the successful collaboration of EFIM Foundation.
Stick into the goal of poverty reduction, through making those underprivileged people into the main stream Arthacharya Foundation successfully completed this project for the people in Wellawaya. Wellawaya which is situated in Uva province, Moneragala district, Sri Lanka considered as the one of the poorest DS division in the country. A predominantly agricultural region it is home to many marginalized communities and has numerous financial and social disadvantages. Arthacharya Foundation (AF) has been actively engaged in poverty reduction programmes in the Wellawaya Divisional Secretary’s Division for more than four years.
The need of community centre was first suggested by Mr Egbert Hendriks during the period of their observation in Wellawaya. Most of mothers depicted the requirement of common place to do their activities. Also they highlighted the absence of early children care facilities in the area. One of them will be using the community centre to conduct English classes for school children who are badly affected by the available meager facilities for English in the whole district. AF will also examine the possibility of conducting classes for other subjects such as science and mathematics as well. Besides, the community centre will also function as a library for school children and the youth in the area. Furthermore, the space will be used for recreational facilities for the same groups given the high incidence of suicides among the youth in the area who often resort to harming themselves due to a multitude of social, economic and environmental problems prevalent in the area. Indoor and outdoor games for which there is ample space, new paper reading and internet browsing are expected to provide them the opportunity to work as a team, socialize with each other, and amplify their innate strengths. Finally, a part of the community centre will be used for the administrative office of Arthavida Foundation (AvF) which manages microfinance programme. Depending on the availability the space will be used as a training and meeting hall for the clients of the microfinance programme and the beneficiaries of the irrigation programmes which too is an initiative of the EFIMHF .
The erection of the buildings of the community centre was funded by EFIM foundation, Vebego foundation, Cordaid foundation, Marthe van Risjswijck Foundation and freemasons Netherlands.
The Budding Flowers in Wellawaya
Wellawaya a village situated in the Monaragala district, Uva province belonging to the dry zone of Sri Lanka. A predominantly agrarian based region, it is home to many marginalized communities and has numerous financial, social and cultural disadvantages. Due to the regions rainfed agricultural system and lack of proper irrigation, there is a high level of continual poverty among the community. Access to clean water and transportation is also a problem that the community faces on a day to day basis. Also Education is a vital need that is violently kept aside in the area due to lack of proper schools, teachers other interiors and resources.
The students of the Wellawaya area are therefore at a disadvantage as they live under very poor living conditions, in remote areas with little or no access to educational support. Arthacharya Foundation and EFIM Foundation Netherlands initiated to establish a community centre which can accommodate a much needed preschool facility so that the poor working mothers who are clients of the microfinance programme could use their time in production activities which in turn will generate incomes to support the families. Additionally Wellawaya Preschool helps to provide primary education for the poor children in Wellawaya. In 2015 September the preschool was opened to the children in Wellawaya.
The financial and the itinerary support was given by the Vebego Foundation Netherlands and EFIM Foundation . EFIM Foundation was funded for the outdoor play equipment. Currently there are 50 students. One head teacher and two assistant teachers are working in the preschool.
Wellawaya Tuition Classes
The lack of proper facilities in the formal schools is a huge problem in Wellawaya. This prevents a large number of children in the area from entering the universities for which the competition is extremely high. As a result, it is always the children from urban areas and other areas with better facilities who win the rat race. In an area like Wellawaya not only the formal school facilities are limited but also the opportunities for private tuition are limited too. This situation has forced children to travel long distances to places such as Tangalle, Embilipitiya and Matara which consume most of their time in addition to being a very expensive practice.
One of the main reasons for limited tuition classes in the area is the non-availability of class room space in private building since the space in government schools are not given for private classes. Also the non availability of qualified teachers is a major issue in the area. Arthacharya Foundation and Sampath Foundation Netherlands initiated to conduct English tuition classes in Wellawaya. The newly built community centre provides the shelter for the tuition classes. We are aiming to
- Provide quality extra support tuition classes for poor students in Wellawaya
- Enhance the level of English knowledge of the students
- Provide the opportunity for children to socialize among themselves in order for them to develop their personalities and sharpen their talents.
- Alleviate poverty by strengthening the educational capacity of the students.
Now we have nearly 90 students including O/Ls and A/Ls.
Meeting the Pillars of Success
The founder of EFIM Foundation Egbert Hendriks and Joke van Meerten visited the project and had a fruitful discussion with the students. Mr Sathis de Mel, The Executive Director of Arthacharya Foundation, Jose de Bruijn, Sampath Foundation, Gayani Kumari, Branch Manager Wellawaya AF/AIL, Ayesha Jeewanthi, Coordinator of the Education Programme Wellawaya participated for the meeting.
The education project has achieved recognition and demand in Wellawaya for the honourable service that it provides to the financially marginalized students in the area.
Sampath Foundation, EFIM Foundation Netherlands and Arthacharya Foundation successfully continue the Scholarship programme for the underprivileged children in Wellawaya. Already Education 1, 2, 3 programmes were well completed.
In 2015 the programme made a huge success by opening new doors for the university entrance for five students. Living in a marginalized area where there are financial and social disadvantages, this opportunity gives an immense achievement in their lives. The Sampath Foundation and Arthacharya Foundation became their second mother and father behind their success.
S.G Nirmala Dilrukshi, (University of Kelaniya) H.G Upeksha Sewwandi ( University of Peradeniya), R.M Aruni Prabodha ( University of Ruhuna), A.G.A Dinusha Madhuwanthi ( University of Sabaragamuwa), R.M Umesha Dilhari ( University of Peradeniya) already continue their higher studies.