With World Vision’s help, Champika completed his education—and then some—and has now returned to his village as a teacher
Former sponsored child Champika, 25.
Champika’s first school was the poorest of all in his east Sri Lankan
district. The school had no building, toilets or well to drink water from. No teacher wanted to stay and teach there—it was too hard. The children living in the rural villages surrounding it were more determined, however. Some would walk six to eight kilometres each day to get to class.
“The biggest issue the children in our villages faced was education,” says former sponsored child Champika, now 25. “While there were no proper facilities for education, parents also found it hard to support our schooling, buying us books and pens and school supplies.”
In fact, Champika explains that “Both my elder sisters dropped out of school early and started to work in a garment factory to support the family. My elder brother didn’t complete school either.”
He then beams a smile. “But for my luck, World Vision came to our village while I was still in school.” World Vision helped Champika’s school with significant renovations and gave him the support needed to stay in class.
Struggle, then relief
Champika’s father had left the family before he was born, and his mother died soon after his birth. Champika grew up living with his aunt. Although she had five children of her own, his aunt was determined to give him the best, including a good education.
“It was a struggle,” his aunt says. “I was so relieved when World Vision offered to support us.”
She adds, “Champika never had to stop schooling because of that and I never had to worry.”
The principal remembers
Students photographed in 2013 at Champika’s first school.
H.D. Karunapala is the former principal of Champika’s boyhood school. “The first thing World Vision gave us was a teachers’ quarters to retain the teachers in the school,” he recalls. “Then they helped with toilets, a clean water well and a school building. Every child had enough school supplies, and when needed, those who were sponsored shared with those who were not.”
But it wasn’t an act of mere giving: “There was 100 per cent community participation,” says the former principal.
“When the Education Ministry came to see the most rural school in the district, they were surprised,” Karunapala says. “World Vision had already [helped] transform it.”
Champika with a student at his boyhood school.
The new teacher
Champika successfully completed his primary and secondary education at the village schools, then attended a school in the town to earn his advanced level. Today, he is a qualified teacher for social science, history and geography. He’s awaiting an appointment from the Education Ministry to a school close to home.
“I would like to teach in any of the schools I studied in,” Champika says. “Wherever I am, my passion is to work with students who are vulnerable to dropping out of school. I am what I am today because of World Vision and because of my aunt. I would be nothing without them.”
This article was published on July 12, 2014.