Oru Paanai or One Pot, reaches out to Sri Lanka and its north

Web Editor’s Preamble: there are numerous private organisations involved in welfare and philanthropy in Sri Lanka. Some have a reconciliation edge and seek to bring people of different communities together. Some reach across to the people of the north and east in response to the suffering and the underdevelopment that these regions experienced over the past 29 years. Through interaction with the old Thomian mohan Samarasinghe who lives in UK I was fortunate to gain the opportunity to visit Kalmunai and the east in May 2010 in the company of Jezima Ismail and her women’s empowerment NGO, known as the Muslim Women’s
Research and Action Forum (MWRAF)
. She hails from that region and we witnessed first-hand the activities that assist women to acquire income-earning skills. It was a pleasure to sit in a crowded lounge of a post-tsunami house and to watch Tamil women of mostly Christian background in Akkaraipattu display their sewing work (products for sale) as one aspect of this Muslim organisation’s endeavours.

I also gained some exposure to Mohan’s many welfare outreach endeavours in the course of our conversations, one in the east and several in other aprts of the island –all run from UK and involving regular visits to the island.

About the same time I came across Jeremy Liyanage, an old Trinitian mostly educated in Australia and was introduced to Diaspora Lanka. This effort will be featured soon; but one of its offshoots in sponsoring cricket in Mannar is now featured in http://cricketique.wordpress.com. It was this endeavour that led me to introduce Jeremy to some cricketing pals…. And so, in typical fashion, one thing led to another.

 an Oru Paanai class under a tree

Or, rather, Jeremy met Skanda — Royalist, cricketer, cricket-administrator in years past and, above all, a Sri Lankan patriot of the moderate kind. And SO, I was led to Oru Paanai or One Pot, which is the brainchild of Drs. Dan Muthuvaloe and Nandhabalan in England. This reconciliation philanthropy is best introduced via Skanda’s private clarification to Jeremy, a Note from Dr. Dan Muthvaloe and some extracts from their official website.

Somasundaram Skandakumar  to Jeremy Liyanage, early August 2012

Oru Paanai has a wide remit – from feeding children to education and health. Our first concern was with hungry children and ensuring one good midday school meal — to some kids this is the only proper meal for the day, because there is poverty at home. It is a UK based charity (approved ) and I chair the Sri Lankan branch. Last year we fed 20,000 kids in and around 175 schools, and we are now at 30,000 kids in 300 identified schools. Having consolidated our work here and created a reasonably stable financial base for its continuance, we turned our attention to Education….a crying need in many parts and the only avenue/weapon against the trap of poverty and hunger.
During the war many schools were not functioning and many students were displaced several times. The environment was not conducive for education. The children were living in fear and apprehension. There are kids who are 10 12 years old in the Vanni who are unable to read or write in their mother tongue. So we ventured into the supplementary tutorials for o-level students in deprived rural areas. I personally sponsor one such school at Rs. 14,500 a month and there are others doing likewise. If you know of individuals or organisations wishing to sponsor one such school we could identify it for you. My Dad’s 100th birth anniversary fell on the 22nd of July and we contributed a further Rs 100,000 to OP in his name to be used for an identified school in the Vaddukoddai area , as his ancestral home was directly opposite Jaffna College.
We also have an involvement with the school for deaf children in Kaithady who need hearing aids and teachers skilled to teach and help them. Dr Tony Sirimanne, a renowned professor in the field in the UK, has a direct involvement in it along with other eminent professionals as Dr Ranjit Thambyrajah and Deutram Thambapillai all residing in the UK.

I will send you some pictures from a seminar held at Kaithady recently. Jeremy has responded….. lets see if I can twist Kushil Gunasekera’s arm to persude  Murali to be present at the final in Mannar.

!! Cheers, Skanda

www.orupaanai@ org.uk. SS

Dan Muthuvaloe to Skanda and friends, from Sri Lanka, late July 2012
Hi Guys,
Leela and I visited Kaithady on Tuesday morning and met up with Anne, Liz and Vasuki. They were in full swing. It was their second day. On the first day 29 teachers attended. On the second day there were six more. The Principal was very enthusiastic. He had included the hostel teachers/wardens as well.
   The session starts at 9 and concludes by 3 pm Mr. Devarajah a retired Assistant Director of Education was helping with being an Interpreter.
   There was participation by the teachers and they were working in groups. Anne was very particular to get everyone participating — a culture shock to the locals who were used to didactic teaching. The content of what was being taught was much appreciated by the Kaithady staff and they did not realize the importance of what they have been trying to do. I am sure the Kaithady staff in the end will feel affirmed, encouraged and empowered to continue their good work.

We expect to visit them again in Kaithady. Attached a few pictures. It is extremely hot here but the brisk breeze all day makes it just about bearable.


 Anne and Liz  Vasuki in Kaithady


Oru Paanai means One Pot, which is a familiar Tamil expression.
It describes our shared heritage and humble beginnings. It evokes a sense of communal responsibility, sharing life’s most basic need – food – our food, from OUR PANAAI, with those who are less fortunate.

There are three branches of activity – read more here. Within its feeding programme alone, Oru Paanai is now supporting 33,000 children in 311 schools PER DAY. See the full list here.

More about both the work and the region is available here and in our News section.

Find our more about our recent fundraising events and read reports on activities and visits to Sri Lanka in connection with the work of Oru Paanai, including Dan Muthuveloe’s recent 2011 visit. Read the latest Newsletter here.

Contact us with any questions or to talk to us about supporting the work.

Do join us in helping to nourish a generation of children.


Filed under heritage, life stories, patriotism, reconciliation, rehabilitation, tolerance, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, women in ethnic conflcits

2 responses to “Oru Paanai or One Pot, reaches out to Sri Lanka and its north

  1. Pingback: Skandakumar: Batting for Sri Lanka at Canberra | Thuppahi's Blog

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