Ray Charlton, a founding member of the Scitech team, recently visited Sri Lanka to volunteer for the charity Child Action Lanka, taking several laptops, headphones and mobile phones donated by Scitech.
Ray, who retired from Scitech in 2020, pledged to volunteer with the charity after hearing how many children across the country are deprived of education and suffer from poverty.
Ray explains: “The poverty experienced in Sri Lanka is a result of many factors; including the recent war and the financial crises which has been exasperated by lack of tourists (due to terrorist bombing in 2019 and Covid). Sri Lanka is a very class-based society and the lowest/ poorest suffer the most. There is no welfare safety net.”
Child Action Lanka (CAL) is focused on ensuring that vulnerable children everywhere have a chance of a better future. They try to ensure their basic nutritional and health needs are met, and that their primary and higher educational requirements are supported. CAL provides support to mothers and families who have suffered domestic violence and abuse, believes in the empowerment of girls and women, and funds the work of its staff supported by volunteers.
“All children over 5 years of age attend state schools but teaching stops at 1pm,” explains Ray. “Wealthy families often pay for addition tuition, which poor families are unable to access. CAL supports these poor families by providing a lunch and additional lessons in mother tongue (Sinhalese or Tamil), English, Maths and basic computing.”
Ray, along with five other volunteers, travelled to the capital city Columbo to meet with charity staff and hand over the donated equipment. During his trip, Ray travelled to several of the charity’s education centres across the country to teach computer skills to children.
Ray said: “When Scitech heard I was going to work with CAL in Sri Lanka they offered me several laptops, headphones and mobile phones, which have been put into immediate use. The laptops were needed to equip their pupils with IT skills and maximise their chances of employment when they leave at 18 years old.
“Together with a friend, we taught the children how to use MS PowerPoint to create a one-page CV and some children gave a presentation to the class, something they had never done before. We then took this format to the other centres we visited. The children we worked with were so keen and enthusiastic to learn; it was a delight. The experience of the trip has been wonderful; in seeing what can be done with the vision and energy to make a change and a positive difference to the lives of children”
Simon Howard, Business Infrastructure Director, said: “We were delighted to be able to support Ray and the fantastic work that Child Action Lanka is doing to improve the lives of disadvantaged children. We always look for opportunities to recycle any of our computer equipment when it needs to be upgraded and this was certainly a good opportunity to do so while also getting insight into the difference that such a small gesture on our part could make.”
To support Ray visit his Just Giving page – Ray Charlton is fundraising for The Epiphany Trust (justgiving.com)
Read more about Ray’s trip.