July 5, 2017. On a sunny Tuesday in July, seventy students from Biyagama Maha Vidyalaya left Colombo to travel to Uvakele to visit some brothers and sisters in a Tamil school in the plantations. Little did they know how difficult and yet how memorable this journey was going to be. For the Biyagama MV students it was an unforgettable lifetime memory carved deep into their hearts forever. Until their bus stopped at the start of the road to the estate, and were told that vehicles cannot go beyond this point, they never expected that their project was going to be this hard. But the commitment of this group was so strong, they never gave up. Hence, they decided to carry books for the library, computers, school bags and many more boxes of gifts that they had brought to give their brothers and sisters in the Uvakele Tamil Primary School collected by them under Mother Sri Lanka (MSL) project RUN. This was the RUN project of the Biyagama M.V., under the concept of ‘Unity’, which is designed to promote ethnic harmony and peaceful co-existence among all communities in the country. As per the guidelines given by Mother Sri Lanka, the MSL club of Biyagama M.V., have conceptualised this project to help an under privileged school with students from a different ethnic group.

Uvakele Primary Tamil school is about 25km from the main Nuwara Eliya Road. There were 3 of us from Mother Sri Lanka who joined these children for this journey. It was only after we got to the entry point to the Uvakele estate did we find out that the road was under repair and none of our vehicles could go beyond this point, and the school was 7 km away! The road leading to the school is a narrow uphill road where no two vehicles could pass easily. After many years of waiting, those people are finally getting a proper road that will lead into the school and their homes. But as of that day, no vehicle could go the total stretch as the old bridges were taken down. Our only savior was the notorious tuk-tuk! We went in a tuk-tuk upto midway and then walked more than 3km uphill to get to the school. On the way back, there was no form of transport in the vicinity for us to go down to our van, so we had no choice but to hitch a ride on a passing truck that was carrying rubble for road construction. These roads were rugged, broken and nerve wrecking, for us. We pay money at amusement parks to go on roller coasters, but for these people it’s every day a roller coaster ride.

Even though the bridges on the road were broken, this noble gesture done by a Sinhala school in Colombo to help a rural Tamil school in Uwakele, saw new bridges been built with love, compassion and joy. To them it was a new beginning of reaching out to people who are not so privileged and lucky like them. “It was the first time they did such a heartwarming project. I strongly feel that this will lead into new beginnings in their young minds to reach out to different ethnic and socio economic groups in our country” said Ms Saluja, the teacher in charge of the MSL Club. The outreach of this MSL project was finally seen in their emotions. When they said their goodbyes to each other, the tears in their eyes, the hugs & kisses, the parting handshakes said it all, even after a rough hard journey to reach the location, and a rough cold night that they spent sleeping overnight in the school, they wanted to stay a few more days at Uwakele.

“This is nothing but true evidence of the footprints Mother Sri Lanka is laying through Project RUN among school children all over the country; building bridges and developing Responsible Citizenship among the future generations of our country. We will be doing over 125 projects like this during this year alone covering all districts of the country.” said Chairperson of Mother Sri Lanka Trust who joined the children in Uvakele, enduring the tough journey herself.

Mother Sri Lanka Project Run, named after the acronyms of three powerful components, Responsible Citizenship, Unity and National Prideis a unique project concept where children were motivated and encouraged to design projects that helped uplift life and enrich communities across the island.
The holistic objective of this project is to develop a ‘Responsible Citizen’ while instilling positive thinking and values of ethnic harmony, respect, tolerance encouraging social interaction, commitment, leadership and teamwork towards achieving a common set objective and satisfaction through success of enriching the lives of their communities and its people. There have been 1400 projects implemented so far since the introduction of this program in 2013. MSL Project RUN has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education and is admissible as a GCE A’Level community project, which is a compulsory item in the syllabus.
Established in 2008, Mother Sri Lanka (MSL) is a non-profit organization which brings together the collaborative efforts of the public, private and non-profit sectors focusing primarily on the educational, socio-economic and cultural development of Sri Lankans. The organization is governed by a team of professionals who have been contributing their time voluntarily MSL projects are implemented through a network of youth clubs covering all 25 districts of the country.
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The event was attended by the Chairperson, Mother Sri Lanka Trust, two other Executive Committee members of Mother Sri Lanka, Principles of Biyagama MV and Uvakele Tamil Primary School, Zonal Educational Director and Assistant Zonal Director (Primary) of Nuwara Eliya zone and divisions, and teachers and parents.