The Tsunami Challenge 2005

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Village to Village: Tirukkovil Village Orphanage, Sri Lanka

Sponsored by the Village of Brockport, the Town of Sweden, and the State University of New York College at Brockport.

About the Project

Photo: Rev. Sinnathamby Thevanesan

Rev. Sinnathamby Thevanesan, or Pastor Theva as he prefers to be known, moved to the U.S. from Sri Lanka in the mid-eighties, and served many churches in western NY before coming to the Brockport United Methodist Church in 2001. Following the recent tsunami, he returned to Sri Lanka to provide counseling to many pastors he once supervised, financial assistance to two churches in his former circuit, and started gathering information that is guiding his Brockport congregation toward further support of these people.

But one non-denominational project may be of interest to the larger community:

The Orphanage

The Orphanage, as it is simply called, is a two-story structure located in the town of Tirukkovil - about 75 miles south of Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka.

It is governed by a board of directors composed of leaders from the local community, and elected officials of the Methodist church. It has always been ecumenical in nature and exists for humanitarian, not religious purposes. Two populations are served: 71 boys who live in The Orphanage and, since the tsunami, about 14 girls who come there for the day. Collectively they are characterized as "The poorest of the poor."

The boys go to a traditional school during the day, but live at The Orphanage. The younger boys live downstairs and help out with small jobs such as home upkeep, and maintaining a small vegetable garden. The older boys live on the second floor. When they are not at school, they learn basic construction and mechanical skills. They make construction blocks from donated raw materials, learn welding and how to construct basic housing. Many of the boys have lost parents and or siblings.

All the girls are older. While a few came here before, the tsunami dramatically increased their numbers. In many cases they have lost both parents, and are the sole "bread winners" of what remains of their families. They commute from a refugee center to learn how to make clothing for themselves, but more importantly so that they will learn a skill in order to support themselves. One market is making uniforms for local school students. For most of these girls the commute for this training is about five miles - by foot.

Skills training has always been a part of The Orphanage's mission, but the tsunami swept away much of what was needed to teach those skills. When asked what two things specifically were needed most right now, the Director replied: "Sewing machines, but also bicycles. The walk from the refugee center uses up several hours a day when the students could be learning."

Other things are needed too: The facility itself needs repair. Bedding is needed. The Orphanage also lost its few computers, and more tools are needed for construction training. Moreover, there is a need to increase the size of this facility over the next six months in order to support the growing number of children identified as homeless.

The Tsunami Challenge

Goal: To raise $9,060 by Commencement Day (May 14), to be presented as a check to Rev. S. Thevanesan, who will do the invocation at the undergraduate ceremony.

Strategy: To set goals for each sector of the College Community:

  • Academic departments and student clubs
  • Professional Units
  • Residence Halls
  • Student service fraternities/sororities/other

School of Letters and Sciences Goal: $1,250
5 bikes $400
5 sewing machines $850

School of Arts and Performance Goal: $1,250
5 bikes $400
5 sewing machines $850

School of Professions Goal: $1,250
5 bikes $400
5 sewing machines $850

Professional Staff Goal: $1,500
6 bikes $480
6 sewing machines $1,020

Administration Goal: $1,800
3 computers $1,800

Residence Hall Students Goal: $960
12 bikes $960

Student service fraternities/sororities/other Goal: $1,050
42 uniforms $1,050
Total: $9,060

How to Contribute

A special fund has been set up within the Brockport College Foundation to accept donations for the Tirukkovil Orphanage tsunami relief effort. Personal checks can be made out to "The Brockport College Fund", with "Tsunami Relief" in the memo line, and sent to:

Division of Institutional Advancement
c/o Sue Parrino
350 New Campus Dr.
Brockport, NY 14420

Departments are encouraged to participate as a group. Additional giving opportunities will occur.

In The News

Last Updated 11/20/18

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