Mankulam, a town in Northern Sri Lanka which was devastated by the recent civil war, lasting for three decades. In 2011 the violence is now finally over, villagers are returning to repair their homes, tend their abandoned farms and gradually rebuild their lives. This task is an arduous and demanding one, with little access to water, food, electricity and public transportation, life is hard and children walk up to 10km daily to continue their education at the local school.
The bicycle has been an integral part of the landscape and a popular mode of transport for many years in Northern Sri Lanka. Economically viable, requiring a third of the energy of walking and moving at four times the speed, the bicycle is a prized family possession shared by all. It enables women to access essential food and vegetables from the local market, allows men to seek employment far from their homes and assists community members in taking their home grown produce to the town market. Known as a “Veerayah” in the local Tamil dialogue, the sturdy bicycle often transports the entire family – a child on the cross bar and another on the back behind the rider.
Recognizing that bicycles are an expression of self freedom, a contributor to the alleviation of poverty and a symbol of empowerment to the whole society, three British volunteers are embarking on a ride from Seenigama to Mankulam to raise money for new bicycles for the northern communities. They start on October 21st from Seenigama, a village in the rural South, devastated by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and cycle over 400 km in less than 5 days to Mankulam in the rural North. Both of these rural towns have deep links with the charity, the Foundation of Goodness, headed by local entrepreneur and humanitarian, Kushil Gunasekera and international cricket star, Muthiah Muralidaran, the organization helped rebuild Seenigama after it had been destroyed by the waves, and now plans to do the same with Mankulam. This charity cycle ride is a symbolic one as it joins both south and north together; areas which have been divided for so long. The cyclists will be accompanied in different segments by well wishers, including visiting doctors fromUK,USA andAustralia, local dignitaries and Kushil Gunasekera.
The mission of the foundation is to bridge the gap between rural and urban societies. The foundation assists, free of charge, 30 sectors in education, sports and commerce impacting 40 villages 25,000 lives. The Foundation of Goodness is now seeking to replicate this model in the war affected region in the north. For more information please visit www.unconditionalcompassion.org
Kim Wright: Kim arrived in Sri Lanka from the UK in 2009 and has been a volunteer with the Foundation of Goodness ever since, working as the Project Architect for the charity’s Learning & Empowerment Institute in Mankulam. Inspired by the Foundation of Goodness’ work in 2011 to provide monthly programmes and donations to the northern communities, including the gifting of bicycles, cricket equipment, household items, food supplies, clothing, school kits, computers, school and agricultural provision as well as the development of sport’s workshops and essential school infrastructure, Kim saw a bike ride as an excellent opportunity to raise funds for bicycles and contribute to the 1500 lives already impacted by the Foundation of Goodness.
Cherry Briggs: Cherry has been working as a Biology Teacher for the British School in Colombo since 2010. With a passion for cycling she has taken her bike over 10,000 km along the major highways of India and South-East Asia. Cherry learned about the work of the Foundation of Goodness soon after she had moved to Sri Lanka from the UK and was keen to become involved in its causes. Being both a teacher and a sports woman she understands the importance of access to education, employment and a healthy lifestyle and has become involved in this bike ride so she can contribute to making a difference.
Rebecca Malcolm: Rebecca is the Fundraising and Events Manager for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in the UK, one of the major funders of the Foundation of Goodness’ southern project in Seenigama. Inspired by the work the organisation carries out, Rebecca volunteered for three weeks over Christmas 2009 at the Seenigama site where she taught Pilates to members of the men and ladies cricket team as well as helped in netball and swimming coaching. Through this she was able to see firsthand the phenomenal success the Foundation of Goodness has had on the local community and in particular the tremendous impact that sport has had on alleviating poverty.
For more information about the ride and how to contribute please contact email@example.com
NOTE dated 6 Oct 2011-10-06
Michael – contributors can go straight to our website www.unconditionalcompassion.org and click the ‘Donate on Line’ button – in the reference write ‘Riding for Bikes’. Alternatively cheques can be made out to the Foundation of Goodness and set to Foundation of Goodness,30/32 Longden Place,Colombo 07.