A school with a big heart for its students


Yesterday was the official opening of the basketball court at the Royal International School Kurunegala.  This is the school that I spend most of my time, and the school is founded by the same person as Selyn; Mrs. Sandra Wanduragala. Both initiatives are managed by Sandra with the support of her family. 

However, the focus was on the opening of the basketball court for the students at RIS. The basketball court has been one of Sandra’s ambitions to provide children at the RIS with the necessary sport facilities for them to become motivated and active children. Because of Sandra’s strong ambition children are given the opportunity to develop skills such as teamwork and leadership, characteristics that are hard to educate in the classroom. 

The two teams that where invited to play at the opening; the Sinha regiment and Military Police. 


The majority of youth in Sri Lanka face the reality of an education that focus on the enrolment of students rather than the quality. This development has normalised afterschool lectures during both weeks and weekends to gain the skills needed to compete in the labour market. Therefore children in Sri Lanka have little time left to be what they are; children. 



In light of this the RIS are committed to provide high quality education as well as encourage students in a positive manner by providing the tools necessary for them to be active in different sports and other extra-curricular activities. By letting children be children and participate in healthy extra-curricular activities have also proven by research to have a positive impact on academic achievements. 

 Mrs. Sandra Wanduragala trowing the ball to start the first game ever played at the new court.  
In consideration to the limited amount of recourses and facilities for children to practise various sports in Kurunegala, this basketball court is a great achievement for children at RIS, and a day that many will remember. Hopefully there will be spilt a lot of sweat and tears on this court in the future. 



When talking with one of the employees at RIS I learned that parents and students in Sri Lanka are very exam oriented. Doing activities out side of the curriculum during school hours are hard to implement such as social activities or even internships because many parents feel that their children’s time is wasted. I find this very interesting because it partly explains the miss-match between out-of-school children and the labour demand in Sri Lanka. Working is not about getting an A on an exam it is about so much more! It’s about real life experiences and how you as a person handle different situations, and it is also about you working with something that you find interesting and how you chose to be as a person when working with other employees and the list goes on! The person I spoke to are planning to make students learn in different, more creative ways, for students to have fun and learn at the same time. I think that this is something that all educational institutions should keep in mind.  





In the school of Royal International School Kurunegala all of the women in the staff are wearing beautiful Sarees in all different colours and striking patterns. The Saree is a common clothing in Sri Lanka and there are two common ways of draping the Saree; Indian style, Kandyan style. The Kandyan style is considered to be the national dress of Sinhalese women. This is because the city Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhala kings that enabled the Dinahala culture to flourish for more than 2,500 years until the occupation of Sri Lanka by the British in 1815. It is also where Buddha’s tooth is kept and therefore a famous pilgrimage site. 
In the picture I am wearing a Kandyan Saree. 

In the beginning of my stay I found the Saree very interesting and colourful piece of clothing. But as I have gotten to know some of the women wearing the Sarees, some that I am happy to call my friends, I found that it captures the pride and grace of a Sri Lankan woman. I could not help but admiring these traditional Sarees that my friends are wearing everyday in school but buying a Saree takes some effort which I have not had the time or knowledge to do. However, yesterday I got the fantastic opportunity to actually wear one! 

In the background you can see the beautiful Sarees of the women!
Me and Malika
Me and Shehani 
Doreen and me
So how did it feel to wear a Saree. 

I felt very graceful and I got a lot of compliments which was really fun. I am so grateful for being able to try one for a day!

But the Saree was very tight! I borrowed one from a girl that is thinner than me so therefore it felt like wearing a corset, I had to sit straight all day, so I guess it was good practice for my body figure. Although in the end of the day it was a relief to take it of.

I asked some of the women if it was supposed to feel like a corset or if it was because mine was a bit too small. Some of them said that the top that you are wearing has to be tight or it won’t look good.So, I am genuinely  impressed by these women who endure to wear a Saree each day. But some women said that a Saree in the right size is comfortable, and  after some time they become comfortable as well. Like buying really tight jeans that you almost can’t sit down in, that later becomes the most comfortable piece of clothing that you own. 

The next step in my Saree carrier is to buy one of my own and make sure that it is not soo small! and soon I'll look just like a Sri Lankan woman, you won't recognize me back home in Sweden ;) 


Always have hope


You have to love all the small holidays that they have in Sri Lanka, yesterday it was a new Poya Day, which meant one day of holiday for everyone. I spent my poya day with Ravi, Sandra, Hilary and Newton, all a part of the family that have started and are running both Selyn Handlooms and Royal International School. This is a family with a huge heart for the Sri Lankan citizens and also a family that you can’t help but to admire for their ambition and their hope.


This is Sandra (to the left) at the Kindergarden that they (Sandra and the rest of the family) started in connection to one of the weaving workshops at Selyn. With the objective to enable the women to work instead of being required to stay home taking care of their children. This helps the women to get a sustainable livelihood where the children become educated in an early age. In the end it's a win-win situation for the women and their families and it further   contributes to the socio-economic development of the poor rural areas of Kurunegala. 


No matter what goes wrong or how hard things might get, you always hear Sandra saying something similar to “I believe that there is hope”.  The hope that everything is possible and that in the end everything will be more than what you hoped for. It is hard to explain the believe/ hope that Sandra (who is mother in the family) has and it is also hard for me to grasp sometimes. For example, Sandra does something, in which I would never put my hope in; she buys lottery tickets. In Sri Lanka they are very cheap so you can buy quite many but still the chance of winning is not better than in Sweden, maybe even smaller, but still she keeps on buying lotteries with the belief and the hope of winning one day. This is seen within the whole family as well, they keep on striving to always improve even tough their might not be enough recourses. Instead of not trying, they fallow their goals and start with very small steps at a time, slowly building a school, a business ect. What they have accomplished so far have taken them years and they still have a long way to go, but they never lose hope along the way which is the key reason to why they keep on pushing forward and can implement and develop their ideas.

 Dinner with Sandra and Ravi and two dear friends to the family from Australia 

For me this is a truly inspiring feature that I will try to absorb as much as possible. Especially the fact that regardless of insufficient resources nothing is impossible, there is always an innovative way to get around the obsticles and get the resources needed, but only if you keep on pushing forward and believe in the possibility that no matter what, you can reach your goal. 

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