FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ROOM TO READ JOINS HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS TO HELP DISPLACED CHILDREN IN POST-CONFLICT SRI LANKA
Initiative to Provide Preschools, Teacher Training and Local Language Books to Tens of Thousands of Children
San Francisco, CA – August 5, 2009 – Room to Read has announced that it has joined humanitarian efforts to respond to the needs of the nearly 60,000 children living in the "welfare villages" in northern and eastern Sri Lanka that have minimal access to educational facilities to continue their education.
Room to Read Founder and Executive Chairman, John Wood, joined Room to Read's Sri Lanka Country Director, Glenfrey de Mel, at meetings with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, opposition leader (and former PM) Ranil Wickremasinghe, Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha, and other officials to reaffirm Room to Read's nonpartisan commitment to continuing its work in Sri Lanka. Room to Read also pledged to provide much-needed resources toward the education of the displaced children living in IDP (internally-displaced people) camps as a result of the recently concluded civil conflict.
As such, Room to Read has teamed with UNICEF on a collaborative initiative to establish pre-schools and provide teacher training for education facilitators in the camps. Additionally, Room to Read will provide 50 mobile libraries and distribute 100,000 Tamil, Sinhala and English-language children's books to 200 government-run learning centers within the villages to ensure the children can continue to build on their early literacy skills.
"We have the responsibility as a nation, and the first opportunity as an organization, to attend to the basic needs and rights of the children battered by this war," said Glenfrey de Mel, Room to Read Sri Lanka Country Director. "We embrace this challenge because we firmly believe education is a gateway to a brighter future in the developing world and Room to Read is resolved to do all it can to give the children in these camps that same opportunity."
Already, Room to Read has begun delivering 50,000 Tamil-language children's books published through its Local Language Program to 525 schools in the northern and eastern regions of the country. Furthering its commitment, Room to Read has also targeted the Mannar District, projected to be one of the first to be fully resettled, as an area for expansion in 2010. As part of that growth plan, Room to Read plans to establish 50 Reading Rooms in the district and is already exploring ways in which to support school construction and girls' education.
"Our entire global team is both eager and steadfastly committed to helping the displaced children of Sri Lanka. As with our response post-tsunami, we are moving with all deliberate speed to address their educational needs at this hopeful, yet tenuous, time," said John Wood, founder and executive chairman of Room to Read. "We remain dedicated to empowering tens of thousands more children in Sri Lanka through this initiative, which we consider to be an initial down payment on our dream of expanding our work within a nation that is greatly in need of our assistance. With education, these communities will have a stronger chance of creating a path to a prosperous future."
The initiative is only the most recent of Room to Read's ongoing efforts to support the education of children in Sri Lanka, where it launched operations following the devastating 2004 tsunami. Since then, Room to Read has established over 650 libraries and over 200 schools; distributed over 600,000 Sinhala, Tamil and English-language books; and helped 1,200 girls enroll and stay in school across Sri Lanka.
About Room to Read
Room to Read is an innovative non-profit leader dedicated to promoting and enabling global education. Founded in 2000, the organization is based on the belief that education is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty in the developing world. Since then, the organization has supported over three million children by providing increased access to higher-quality educational opportunities. Room to Read has established more than 700 schools and over 7,000 bilingual libraries with five million books, and continues to support the education of nearly 7,000 girls. For more information, visit www.roomtoread.org.
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Sonia Torres, Sr. PR Associate
Room to Read