When Tony and I arrived back in Sri Lanka in January, we could never have imagined what the year 2020 had in store for us all.

We welcomed the children back from their Christmas break and distributed the gift boxes, when they eventually arrived from England. The children were thrilled, as you can see from their smiling faces in our report.

We also welcomed 8 new children in January, who come from various parts of the Island. Among them are some of the youngest children we now have. 

Tony and I set about getting to know all of them, finding out about their backgrounds, their needs and their personalities.
We discovered that a number of them had eye problems, so a trip to the optician was arranged. They of course all needed school uniforms, shoes, school bags, water bottles as well as pencil cases, umbrellas and all the usual things. Every other day, we made a trip to ‘Arpico’ and returned with a car load of items!

Tony drew up study timetables for all the children, and we started English and Maths tuition classes.
The school bus was an obvious issue and our driver reported that he was increasingly worried about the condition of it, so we realised it had to be made a priority.

FARS new busTony, Jerome and Manu put their heads together and managed to find someone who had a bus for sale at a reasonable price. Having looked at it, we agreed to purchase it the following day. However, Manu received a phone call that evening to tell him the owner had a better offer and it was no longer possible for us to purchase it. Shortly afterwards, our driver, Jude, heard of another bus for sale. He went to look at it and reported it was a good buy, so fortunately all was well in the end! Of course, this happened just before the ‘Covid lockdown’, so the bus had to be kept safely in the grounds of the Children’s Home, where Sunil constructed a shelter for it.
The bus now has new seat covers and our FARS Chanmugam Trust logo on the sides, front and rear. The driver is very happy and the children are proudly and safely ferried
to school and back every day.

The ‘Covid lockdown’ was announced with very little warning. When the schools closed, most of the children went to live with their guardians, and we gave them 10,000 Rupees each to help them, and further assistance as time went on. During this time, the FARS Chanmugam Trust continued to pay the wages of the staff employed at the Home. We also started the ‘Food Aid’ programme, based in the villages where many of the children’s families live.

The schools have now re-opened and the children have mostly all returned to the Children’s Home. The ‘A’ Levels will now be held in October and the ‘O’ Levels in January.
We have 1 ‘A’ Level girl this year and 7 ‘O’ Level girls. We also have three girls doing ‘O’ Level re-sits from last year.  It is proving to be more difficult to provide tuition for these girls during these times, but slowly, Tony is managing to find some appropriate help for them.
Two of the girls in the Home for older girls have started back at University, one is continuing at Journalist college, another two are studying English at Language College and two are retaking ‘O’ Levels to improve their grades, with a view to eventually studying for a degree. The pre-school has also now opened and is running well. 
Life is slowly getting back to some kind of normality here in Sri Lanka as we have no person to person spread of the virus at the moment. We obviously hope it will remain like this but have no way of knowing what the future holds. We will continue to do our best for the children in the circumstances we find ourselves in and thank you all most sincerely for your continued support of the charity.