Humanitarian activities

Tsunami and Aftermath

The Tsunami washed upon Sri Lanka on the 26th of December 2004, causing loss of life and property, destroying homes and livelihoods.

In the Weligama area about one thousand people sought refuge in the village temple. By evening they needed food and water. The roads became impassable and it took time for official help to arrive. Barberyn Beach , which was unharmed by the tsunami, became one of the few places that had the capacity to help.
The Management and staff and the resident guests all joined the relief efforts prioritizing the needs and providing immediate relief.

The momentum created by these small beginnings have resulted in an extensive programme of community development being jointly undertaken by Barberyn Ayurveda Resorts management & staff and past and present guests – Friends of Barberyn.

Guests Initiatives

Resident guests at Barberyn Beach and those who had joined from Barberyn Reef explored with the Barberyn Management ways in which they could help the villagers in Weligama.

We all realized the importance of a coordinated approach. We also realized the need to consult the provincial authorities and the people concerned. After consultation with the monk and the village headman and provincial council, there was consensus on several project ideas. The first priority how ever was cooked food and dry rations. Then came short term shelter and the re-establishment of livelihoods.

Resident guests decided to contribute towards the immediate relief efforts and successfully collected enough funds to cover the cost of food and dry rations and several toilets and kitchens which enabled the villagers of “Kadabaddegama” to leave the camps and go back to their homes. Very soon Barberyn past guests started responding to the initiatives to assist the villages, contributing to specific projects that interested them, or contributing generally to any project that needed funding by contributing to the “helping hands”.

Resident guests were also interested in helping to improve the schools in the surrounding area – so that the children who have been directly and indirectly touched by the Tsunami would have a pleasant environment to study and progress. Guests also gave a name for this – the Bodhi programme.

Providing immediate relief

In Weligama homeless villagers from the villages took refuge at several temples and in the temple closest to Barberyn there were about one thousand people.

We could see that the temple was not up to the task of preparing the dry rations that we were giving them. So we took over the task of cooking and distributing the food as well. As the people started moving back to their houses, we distributed dry rations to those who could cook themselves. Each household was also provided with cooking utensils and mats and pillows and garden implements. The Government started giving dry rations and we have been supplementing this with vegetables and milk supplements for children below 3 years. The funds collected from Barberyn resident guests were used for this purpose .

Village Rehabilitation

With the support of the Friends of Barberyn, several projects were completed to rehabilitate the neighboring villages affected by tsunami.

Help with Shelter and Other Basics

The village of Kadabaddagama

This village consists of 71 households. Eight houses had been completely damaged and six houses had been partially damaged by the Tsunami.

After extensive discussions with government officials and the villagers, Barberyn took the lead in helping with the rehabilitation of the village of “Kadabaddagama” in the Weligama area. The majority of the households had lost their possessions. Many of the toilets and kitchens were fully or partially damaged.

Barberyn staff first assessed the damaged homes, one by one. Some of our guests were also able to witness firsthand the damage caused by the Tsunami and the immediate needs. The initial assessment made clear that the people would like to leave the temporary shelters and return to their homes. Barberyn staff, masons and carpenters then started to repair and rebuild the homes including their toilets and kitchens in this village. The villagers were also involved in the construction process and took ownership of the project.

The majority of the villagers in Kadabaddagama went back to their homes at the earliest opportunity. Some spent their nights in the camp and their days in their homes for fear of a tsunami hitting them in the night.

Type Number repaired or rebuilt Number to be completed
Semi Permanent Homes 16 0
Kitchens 50 0
Toilets 54 0

Work in this village is now complete.

The village of Midigama

Having completed the rehabilitation work in Kaddabadagama the Sahana Foundation turned its attention to the next village called Midigama. This village was harder hit by the tsunami and many people were in refugee camps even after the Kadabaddegama villagers had returned to their homes.

We assessed their needs, speaking to the villagers and the local authorities on what was required. There were a number of legal issues concerning the ownership of property and these had to be clarified before we started the building work. Nonetheless we started helping a few families with semi-permanent shelter.

The Sahana Foundation built 4 homes with its own funds and built a cluster of 10 homes on behalf of the Ceyline Group of Companies (Walana Housing scheme). Each new home has electricity, one or two bedrooms, a kitchen and a toilet and has brought joy to their owners.

Clean water

It was also apparent that all the wells had been broken and contaminated by the tsunami in the village of Kadabaddagama. Barberyn staff with the help of the villagers cleaned the wells and installed a reinforced cylinder.

The cylinders were not easy to come by and so the project took longer than anticipated. Eventually 35 wells were completed and the villagers now have clean water to drink and use for daily living.

Community Centre Development

The community centre at Kadabaddagama was repaired and repainted.

The shrine room, which was next to the community centre building, was also repaired. A new Buddha statue was provided and a pirith ceremony took place to commemorate the occasion.

Bodhi Education Programme

Education was an important aspect of discussions with the guests and Barberyn Management that took place after the tsunami. Some guests supported the idea of helping the schools in the area. While food and clean drinking water was the priority in the aftermath of the tsunami, some of the guests staying at Barberyn Beach felt that a bright and comfortable school environment would provide a happy place for kids who have been affected by disaster and tragedy.

Providing educational opportunities had always been of interest to the Barberyn management and there was consensus that education was an important aspect of rehabilitation and renewal of hope, and should be pursued further. Barberyn guests suggested a name for the project “The Bodhi Programme”.

Several “Friends of Barberyn” who heard about the idea contributed funds and stated their preference that the funds be used for the school related projects. The work on the school projects thus commenced with these contributions, and when a few corporate donors contributed funds, the projects were expanded further.

Dharmaraja Vidyalaya School Renovation and Expansion

The Education Department suggested that we assist the Dharmaraja Junior School. This school is located in Weligama, in the Matara District, in Sri Lanka and had approximately 350 students.

It conducted classes for girls and boys from grade one to grade 11. A number of schools in Weligama had been used as camps for displaced people or destroyed. There was thus a shortage of schools for the children in the area. This had an impact on children lived in the tsunami affected area. More Tsunami affected students could have schooled in the Dharmaraja Junior School if there had been more space there.

We found a dilapidated building in the school which if repaired could accommodate three more classrooms. We also found that the toilets in the school were in poor repair and insufficient.

Discussions were undertaken between the Barberyn Management and guests, and the Principal and teachers of the school. The requirements for enrolling more students and improving the school facilities had been identified and agreed.

The work had been completed on the dilapidated building and some classes moved up to the newly renovated building. The main hall had been renovated, toilets repaired and additional toilets built.

Jinaraja Junior School, Weligama – New Building and renovation programme

This School is located in Weligama, in the Matara District, in Sri Lanka and had 292 students. It conducted classes for girls and boys from grade one to grade 11. Twenty-two new students and a number of teachers from a school that was destroyed by the tsunami had joined the school.

Saturday 8 October was a day full of joy at Jinaraja Junior School in Weligama. Students, teachers and parents, along with representatives of the Donor, Kiwanis Club Saarbrucken, Germany and the Directors and staff of Sahana Foundation and Barberyn Resorts realized their dream of upgrading the school facilities.

The extensive building programme included the following:

  • Three new class rooms which can be used as a large school hall as well
  • Complete renovation of two buildings of Primary Section of the School (new roof and floor and partitions)
  • New toilets for the students
  • New office for the Principal and the Deputy Principal
  • Two teachers’ staff rooms

Spiritual Development

The engagement with the local temple and monks which began with the tsunami and its aftermath continued after the tsunami and several other temples in the south of Sri Lanka have benefited from the generosity of the Sahana Foundation and Barberyn’s loyal guests.

Gurubabila Temple Improvement

During the tsunami the villagers sought refuge at the temple. There were over 1000 people in the temple and the facilities in the temple were inadequate to accommodate a huge number of people.

The kitchen was far from adequate and the toilets were insufficient. Even prior to the tsunami it was apparent that the young priests needed better living conditions.

The work commenced soon, and a new boundary wall and a new accommodation unit was built for the monks.

Renovation of the Nagavihara temple in Weligama

In the aftermath of the tsunami, the distressed villagers sought shelter in the temple and it quickly became apparent how ill equipped the temple was for even the resident monks, let alone the hundreds of people who had sought refuge.

Before the Tsunami, the monks of the temple and their main benefactors from the village had discussed plans to improve their accommodation with the support of Barberyn.

Once the majority of the villagers had left the temple, this project was revived. Since then, a new well has been built and a boundary wall constructed at the back of the temple compound. The construction of the new accommodation wing is in progress.

Reviving Livelihoods

Boat Replacement

After the Tsunami the villages were anxious to get back to fishing and earn their livelihood. However they did not have the resources to replace the damaged boats. None of the boats had been insured.

Some Friends of Barberyn expressed the desire to help the fisher folk to return to gainful employment by replacing the damaged boats.

The Barberyn Management thus undertook discussions with the owners of the damaged boats, the Fisheries Department officials, the Provincial Council and boat builders. Barberyn staff and some of the guests who were interested in the boat project also went to the Kapparatota landing area with the fishermen to verify their needs.

Medical facilities for villagers

Thalpitiya hospital rebuilding

The Thalapitiya Maternity Hospital, which was flooded during the Tsunami, needed urgent attention. “Malteser International” who had agreed with the hospital to fund the repair work, requested the Sahana Foundation to undertake the work on their behalf.

The completed work includes the renovation of the low rise building, including floor tiles. The dilapidated roof was also raised and repaired and the roof tiles were replaced. The rooms and hallways appear much more spacious now and now and there is always a gentle breeze flowing through the building.

The Thalapitiya Hosptal was primarily meant for maternity outpatients, but it will now be possible for mothers giving birth to stay overnight. The new delivery room has been completed and the facility is now being used.

Ahangama hospital renovation

The Ahangama and Midigama rural hospitals provide medical treatment to several villages in the Weligama area.

At the request of the villagers and the hospital staff the Sahana Foundation undertook some of the essential work at the two hospitals. The medical team identified the renovation of the kitchen at the Ahangama hospital as a priority. The Sahana Foundation demolished the unusable kitchen and built a new one, which is now being outfitted.

Midigama hospital renovation

At the Midigama hospital, where about 150 outpatients are treated each day, the Sahana Foundation renovated both the male and the female wards ( including a maternity section) which were at a state of disrepair and unusable.

The work included building a wall to protect the wards from rain, repairing the roof and building the toilets.

Welfare of children and differently abled

Renovation of Sambhodi home for children

The “ Sambodhi Home” which is a refuge for children and orphans with disabilities ranging from Autism to Muscular Dystrophy, is located on the main road out of the city of Galle on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka.

The Tsunami damaged the home and claimed the lives of 48 people ( almost half of the residents) and injured some of the others.

The German Aid Agency Malteser International, wished to undertake some of the rebuilding work and requested the Sahana Foundation to be the local partner and help to implement the project. The work activities included the replacement of the existing roof, which was leaking, with a new roof of 20,000 sq ft, repairing and tiling the floors, and building the outside wall, which was a special feature of the traditional building. The work was carried out by an independent contractor under the supervision of the Sahana Foundation. The project has now been completed.

The Sambodhi Home received a high level of international media coverage which resulted in assistance from several other donors. This has led to refurbishment of the interiors and the home today is a bright and cheerful place of refuge.

Akuressa Girls Home

After the Tsunami several Barberyn guests expressed interest in supporting children who were in foster homes, either because they had lost their parents through the tsunami or for some other reasons.

As the Government expressed the intention to look after all of the children orphaned by the tsunami, the Sahana Foundation explored the prospect of helping children in an orphanage that was already established.

Akuressa Girls Home is located in the District of Matara, about 45 minutes drive from Barberyn Beach, in Weligama. The Home is managed by the well-known charitable organization “Sarvodaya” and is funded purely through voluntary contributions. In February 2005 the Shana Foundation undertook to sponsor 16 children. The cost of sponsoring one child was Rs.3,500.00 ( about € 30.00).

The project concept was to enable “ Friends of Barberyn” to sponsor individual children and pay for their education and up keep without moving the children from their current location. It was envisaged that the sponsors could establish a rapport with the child, through correspondence and occasional visits to foster home.

The sponsorship scheme however could not be implemented as planned as there were difficulties in facilitating a relationship between a sponsor not known personally to the staff of the Home, and the child. The project thus came to an end in September 2006.

Empowering Women

Joti Koratuwa Craft project

The objective of this project was to generate employment and empower the women of the fishing village “Joti Koratuwa”.

When the Barberyn staff went to Jotikoratuwa village with the MP for the first time to discuss their desire for a pre school, the village women expressed their concern at being completely dependent on the fragile livelihood of the men folk, and said that they would like to learn a craft and develop ways of supplement the household income. They said they knew to sew and make lace and do rope work.

We subsequently discussed with the villagers the possibility of improving their skills in needle-work in order to make tableware and other accessories with a view to selling the products – first at the Barberyn Resort gift shops and later at other outlets. We showed the villagers some sample table mats and serviettes. There was tremendous enthusiasm amongst the women for the project. School going girls were also keen to join and they raced home and brought some needlework specimens that they had done at schools for our inspection. 15 women put their names down saying that they wanted to try. We provided funds for them to buy the cloth and the thread and we asked the women to do something very simple – white cloth with white embroidery. The first samples were made and collected.

Medical Care for healthy living projects

Help those seeking medical care through the improvement and maintenance of hospital wards.

Sri Lanka is one of the very few countries in the world that provides free primary secondary and tertiary health care facilities via a network of hospitals throughout the country. With a growing population of over 20 million, high rates of tropical disease and poverty sees the residential wards constantly overflowing with patients. The National hospitals which are located in Colombo provide medical care including residential medical services to patients from any part of the country. No one who is in need is turned away, even though the residential wards are overflowing with patients. Seeing the possibility of improving the facilities in the hospital wards and bringing some comfort to those who seek medical help, the Sahana Foundation has formulated a hospital assistance scheme.

The program commenced with the National Hospital in Colombo, to provide inpatient care/services for patients who need urgent medical assistance. The medical authorities have allocated hospital wards which are to be renovated as required and provide equipment and facilities that are needed in several phases so that the patients would receive the benefits immediately.

On completion of the pilot project and the development of the successful model, it was the Foundation’s intention to extend the program to other hospitals outside the capital of Colombo.

Maintenance of Ward Number 40 at National Hospital Colombo

Established in 1864, the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) is the premier teaching hospital and the tertiary care facility in the country. All services are provided free of charge. The NHSL employs a staff of nearly 5000 including 80 Consultant staff and over 500 doctors. Apart from the outpatient services it has 77 wards and 3000 beds.
Ward number 40 to be maintained by the Sahana Foundation is a general surgical ward with 48 beds.

Two wards in the Nagoda Hospital

Sri Lanka being a welfare State provides free healthcare services to its citizens through government hospitals in the country. Nagoda Hospital in the small town of Nagoda in the Kalutara District is a large government funded hospital with several different specialist units. There are 127 doctors and 650 nursing staff and it is open until midnight for all patients. The hospital originally opened around a century ago as a Miliitary Army Base Hospital. Further to the discussions conducted with hospital administrators and the physicians the hospital allocated ward No.8 and 16 to Sahana Foundation to renovate and equip. The Foundation allocated Rs.1,000,000/=initially to carry out the work including the patient monitoring equipment. The Nagoda Hospital has been renovated and equipped by the Sahana Foundaton and the equipment included an infusion pump and multi para monitor.

Assistance to Panadura Hospital

The Sahana Foundation renovated two dilapidated rooms in the Panadura Hospital to house the Eco Cardiogram and ECG Machine at the Panadura Hospital and the refurbishment included the following.
• Tiled the floors and painted the rooms and the verandah
• Repaired the doors and windows and the toilet
• Fixed two air conditioners for Eco Cardiogram and ECG rooms
• Repaired the furniture

Mental health awareness

People with mental illnesses are a marginalized group within our society. The inherent stigma and discrimination associated with mental illnesses impact not only the mentally ill, but also their families. The Sudana Rodrigo Sahana Foundation identified the importance of creating awareness on mental health amongst the general public to lessen the discrimination against the mentally ill and developed a forum theatre in collaboration with the Abhina Academy of Performing Arts to educate the community. This performance was a reenactment of a real life case study produced by Abhina Academy with the support of the Psychiatrists attached to the National Institute of Mental Health and the development and performances were supported and funded by the Sahana Foundation.

Traditional Medical Clinics

The beautifully restored ancestral house of the Rodrigo family opened doors for the general public to get their illnesses treated through authentic Ayurveda treatments at a nominal price. The clinics are being held on every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Sudana Rodrigo Sahana Foundation subsidizes the provision of Ayurvedic medicine for the ill, manifesting its commitment for the betterment of life through prevention of disease and promoting healthy living.
The Sahana intends to extend this facility to provide inpatient care for the sick with Panchakarma treatment.

Traditional Medical Clinics

The beautifully restored ancestral house of the Rodrigo family opened doors for the general public to get their illnesses treated through authentic Ayurveda treatments at a nominal price. The clinics are being held on every Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Sudana Rodrigo Sahana Foundation subsidizes the provision of Ayurvedic medicine for the ill, manifesting its commitment for the betterment of life through prevention of disease and promoting healthy living.
The Sahana intends to extend this facility to provide inpatient care for the sick with Panchakarma treatment.

Arisithum Centre for Sri Lankan Traditional Medicine

Arisithum relief service is a not for profit health service centered at Ariya Chinthashrama, Gonagaldeniya, Waharaka, Sri Lanka. Indigenous medicinal recipes and treatment methods are being used here to cure diseases and ailments of people. This service is provided for 200-300 patients per week seeking relief for physical and mental suffering at the out patient clinic conducted every Sunday at Ariya Chinthashrama. This endeavor is carefully supervised by a senior Buddhist monk and implemented by a group of qualified Ayurvedic and Allopathic medical officers. This service also aims to collect facts from all possible sources of Sri Lankan traditional medicine and preserve them for future generations. It also plans to research into the Sri Lankan traditional medicine and prepare traditional Sri Lankan medicinal remedies by using authentic methods. The Sahana Foundation contributes monthly for the operations of this centre.

Renovation and maintenance of the pediatric ward of the Weligama hospital


German language scholarship programme

The German language scholarship programme is one of the projects undertaken by the Sri Lanka German Friendship Society in collaboration with Barberyn Ayurveda Resorts. The Goethe Institute and Barberyn are co-sponsoring the project and the Sahana Foundation is facilitating this project. Five deserving students selected from the Ceylon Hotel school – Colombo, Koggala, and Kandy are the recipients of the scholarships.

Germany is among the fastest growing markets for tourism in Sri Lanka, so the scholarship receivers will benefit immensely from this opportunity to be able to better serve the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. Barberyn will consider internship/employment opportunities for students who perform well in this German language programme.