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patrickharrigan

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2 reviews

Review for Hill Country Disability Group, Koslanda, , Sri Lanka

Rating: 5 stars  

In January 2006 when I first met Sri Kanth, I was astonished that despite the disability that he and his two siblings share, their family had already set up one of Sri Lanka's first rural telecenters in remote Koslanda and were managing it rather successfully. He told me of the remarkably high incidence of various types of disabilities in the Hill Country, and of his determination to help poor families living with disabilities. That was when I first pledged my technical support and proposed that they formalize their efforts by creating a local NGO, which Sri Kanth called the Hill Country Disability Group. The more then four year since then have been a long road with plenty of disappointments and successes. But his energy and determination have paid off and now we are a network of volunteers working in Sri Lanka, Germany, the UK, Canada and the USA to transform the lives of dozens of impoverished families, helping them to overcome isolation, poverty, malnutrition and lack of schooling and livelihood opportunities. Our volunteers know very well how much their efforts have been bringing smiles to the faces of handicapped children and youth and their families, because almost every one of them has at one time or another traveled to distant Koslanda to see and serve for themselves...

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

working with family after family and project after project while serving in Sri Lanka from Feb 2006 until April 2009, and still today over Internet.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find ways to improve its reporting capabilities by leveraging Information Technology and by training local volunteers to report back to foreign donors & volunteers better.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

working directly with handicapped children and their families, helping them to plan how to change their lives, and seeing the smiles on their faces when they see it happening.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Sri Lankans of all ages and backgrounds, especially rural youths, the Sri Kanth family, and all our volunteers from Europe and North America.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

achieve its aim of reaching every family living with disabilities across the Hill Country of Sri Lanka, and positively transform thousands of young lives.

Ways to make it better...

the Government of Sri Lanka would take a more positive role in supporting volunteer social service, instead of policing and even taxing charitable organizations like the HCDG.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

the challenge of transport that everyone, especially people with disabilities, faces in traveling from one place to another in the poor road network using public transport. Volunteers need motor scooters to visit families scattered across hilly terrain.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

Role:  Board Member & I helped to create HCDG in 2006 and continue to serve as its Secretary.
 

Review for Weaker Section Welfare Association, Viralimalai - 621 316, , India

Rating: 4 stars  

I met WESWA founder Rajesh Khanna accidentally in Viralimalai in 1997 when I was stranded and he offered to assist. From then until 2000 while I was living in Tamil Nadu I was a regular visitor to Viralimalai and consultant to WESWA. I found Rajesh Khanna to be a very dedicated, earnest and energetic exponent of his district's poor and under-trodden women and children. I am impressed by his ability to inspire and motivate other local volunteers to campaign against such social scourges as child labour, prostitution, and AIDS, and to promote the welfare of the district's most disadvantaged classes, its Dalits ('untouchables'), orphans, and destitute women. I continue to support WESWA since leaving India and would encourage others to support grassroots social work in Puddukkottai District through the Weaker Section Welfare Association under Rajesh Khanna.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have personally visited WESWA headquarters often during 1997-2000. I remain in communication and support in an advisory capacity. The projects and campaigns described in this web site and www.weswa.org are real and worthy of external support.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

attract foreign volunteer social workers to work in this district in collaboration with WESWA. They need greater administrative expertise. WESWA also needs to computerize its office operations and inform the outside world more about the work it is doing.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

They are not easily discouraged by the scale of the problems they are aiming to solve. They work with whatever resources they have to get the maximum results. They are open to suggestions and innovations.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

I am personally acquainted with WESWA founder Rajesh Khanna since 1997 and have met many of his staff and project beneficiaries. He and his staff serve not for pay but for the satisfaction of improving the lot of the poor folks of their district.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

WESWA does not operate on the kind of scale that could absorb and allocate such large sums. But if it had 10 million rupees, it could transform the face of Puddukkottai District and improve life for thousands of women and children for decades to come.

Ways to make it better...

WESWA needs more outside volunteers with English ability and experience in social work. WESWA depends upon its founder Rajesh Khanna alone to communicate with the outside world.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Because of the poor level of education in this district, few WESWA volunteers speak English or use computers.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field & I helped WESWA to create its own web site www.weswa.org and continue to help them to maintain it. I help WESWA with project write ups and help them to network with other agencies and NGOs.