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Deaf and Blind school - Monaragala


Nadani and I set off from Colombo at around 5.30 am on 5th June  to Monaragala - a distance of approximately 283 kilometres, on newly paved roads which are of International standard. We went pass the lush evergreen Sri Lankan countryside passing Ratnapura,Embilipitiya,Uda Walawe,Wellawaya and coming close to Hambantotas  the new Cricket ground and Airport, and reached the school for a late lunch at the residence of the Principal Mr Sarath kaluarachchi. Anticipating our visit the local community too had made their contribution to the lunch. Moneragala is in the deep South-East of Sri Lanka, close to Hambantota, Kataragama, Yala National Park and Arugam Bay the  world class surfing location on the East coast .Dripping with green foliage the centre of Moneragala nestles beneath Peacock Rock, a round topped hunk of forest covered mountain

The school was started in 1997, with two blind children. Today it has 35 Blind pupils and 70 Deaf and Dumb pupils. The boys number 49 and the girls 56.The children are from poor and troubled families and come from different areas like Amparai, Moneragala, Badulla, Hambantota etc. There are 16 permanent teachers who are paid by the Education Dept and 4 temporary who have to be paid from the school funds. The students study up to O/L classes. For A/L they go to mainstream schools. They have three University students at present.

The Board of Management consist of 31 members. The school is accountable to the Dept of Social Services and Education Dept. The accounts are audited annually. The current Account is maintained with Bank of Ceylon with two signatories from Principal/Treasurer/Secretary to sign cheques.

Social Services give a grant of Rs 50 per child per day. Like other Rural Deaf and Blind schools, Moneragala school depends on donations from local well wishers and sometimes outsiders for their survival. Food is a big item of expenditure. They grow their own vegetables, coconuts and fruits.

They have five computers, but only one Braille computer
Apart from the usual school subjects, vocational training is done in a very systematic way. We saw additional building work on a new section which is being built by the students. Masonary, Carpentry is all in house and we saw a strong community spirit and work ethic. The school has an outlet to sell the products of household items such as handbags, shopping bags, computer bags targeting the Colombo market. Products are made by students and sponsored by Dilmah Tea Company.

The children are in residential care and have separate boys and girls dorms with matrons in charge

They are very proud of their sporting achievements with their star head boy, Chandana Deshapriya playing for the Sri Lanka Blind World Cup Cricket team who entered the semi-final. Chandana Deshapriya, won the Man of the Match award more than once.

The Principal indicated that when they come to know of any Blind or Deaf child living with parents and not attending the school they visit the home and try to persuade them to send the child to school. In his estimate around 30percent of Deaf and Blind children are kept at home without any schooling.The vitality and enthusiasm of the Principal Mr kaluarachchi is the key component of the successful running and management of the school. His skill in networking has greatly rewarded the school in receiving generous donations for various projects run by the school
At the conclusion of the visit we gave tea and cakes to the students on behalf of DABAL. They on round us with a moving concert. At the concert the Principal acknowledged our donation indicating in detail how the money was going to be utilised. The head boy gave a vote of thanks indicating the student appreciation for the care shown by Dabal for the poor rural students. It was an emotionally draining experience to both of us.

We left Moneragala feeling that what Dabal is doing in penetrating remote Sri Lanka is a step in the correct direction which will perhaps awaken the authorities in the country to do more for the disabled children.