Sri Lanka: Living in the shadows of an island sun

Sri Lanka is a favourite holiday destination for many people. However, outside the tourist centres, proper infrastructure is scarce and schools are few and far between. Many local people are unable to access even the most basic education. In an effort to help these people Ivoclar Vivadent has partnered with a private initiative, which was established more than 30 years ago.

A trip into the interior of the island country is a hot and humid affair. The bus is full to capacity and there is no air conditioning. The humid tropical air makes your clothes stick to your body immediately. The narrow roads at times traverse precipitous slopes. Pot holes continuously jolt the passengers. Eight hours for 180 kilometres are quite normal here. Heinz and Luisa Mühlegg undertake this arduous journey at least once a year in order to promote their social project and lend a helping hand. Sri Lanka has become a second home to the two Liechtenstein nationals. In fact, they have found their calling on this island in the Indian Ocean.

It all started in 1990 with a piece of cardboard. On a trip through the island, the couple came across a preschool in which a black-painted piece of packaging material was used as a blackboard. The couple decided to organize a proper blackboard for the school. A short time later, they also donated chairs and tables. Next they helped to replace the ramshackle mud hut, which had served as a school, with a small but stable building.

A lot has happened since then. The private initiative has evolved into a non-profit organization called Lanka Help. Today, donations are available to finance lunch packs for the children of various educational institutions. For some of these children, this is the only meal they will eat all day. New schools and children’s homes have been built and existing facilities have been upgraded. Donations have been raised to fund bursaries for teachers and students in order to keep the educational system going. In addition, the organization pays for shared taxis to transport children to and from school. It also tries to convince parents who are sceptical about sending their children to school about the benefits of a formal education for them and their families. Building awareness is an essential task! Many mothers and fathers have accepted the fact that they and their children will live out their lives as cheap and unskilled labourers on the numerous tea and rubber plantations in the country. Despite a lot of hard work and many successes, there is still a lot to do in Sri Lanka. Therefore, Ivoclar Vivadent will continue to support the work of Lanka Help.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility Review