By Bernadine Rodrigo
Appé Lanka is a well-established organisation which is part of a company known as Re-awakening Sri Lanka. Although not so interested in publicity and fame for her work, Appé Lanka CEO and Founder Shaan Corea has managed to get by – quite comfortably – with the fulfilment of the organisation’s aim. The purpose of Appé Lanka is to be able to come to the aid of Sri Lankans who really need it because indeed, the country belongs to all of us.
In this spirit, Appé Lanka has discovered that there are some places in our country which, all together, actually seem like they are a completely different country – with none of the prosperity and joy we get to see in the towns and cities of Sri lanka. Appé Lanka went straight to these areas to help. Most of their work is done in the five districts of Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya, and Jaffna up north, where Corea said we would discover there are so many simple and daily things which have been taken for granted, like clean water to drink.
All in all, in these areas, as Corea said, there are about 7,800 families that have no proper water or other facilities. Appé Lanka has been their solace so far, as they have given these citizens as much help as possible including the provision of water in whatever manner they can. They have supplied water to 21 of the 24 public schools which do not get water and are hoping to do so for close to 500 families. Similar to the lack of water, these people also have a big problem in terms of transport. Hence, Appé Lanka has been trying to make it easier for these children and have been involved in getting bicycles for students who need to get to school. While they have already begun this process, they were not able to complete it due to the pandemic and the curfew in Sri Lanka. However, they are adamant on somehow getting this done as soon as people can move around again.
Their main tasks such as these have been halted due to the spread of the virus, hence they are currently looking towards helping the whole country cope at a time like this. What Corea thought was that at a time like this, we must try our best to stay positive and keep our minds in a state of serenity or joy as the inclination towards frustration is extremely high for everyone. She and Appé Lanka believe that this time is a great opportunity for us to discover parts of our personalities which we may have lost along the way or might have never known we had in us.
Hence, they launched the “Be Creative” campaign where they encourage the people of Sri Lanka to be creative in their own way, who can then be featured on their Facebook page. Corea believes firmly that this period is a good time for us to do this and the delightful reasoning she has is an example from Sri Lanka’s history itself. She reminded us that King Kashyapa created the beautiful frescoes – which locals and tourists marvel at even to this day – when he was in hiding, which of course is a perfect example of how well we could be spending our time right now. With all the entries that Appé Lanka has received from Sri Lankans who have discovered their artistic side, indeed it seems that there still might be world-class talent in the homes of Sri Lanka.
In actuality, pushing people towards creativity is something which Appé Lanka has been doing in a very similar way for about four to five years. However, as Corea explained, when the lockdown began, that was when they thought of giving it a greater priority and created the “Be Creative” campaign. She said that she doesn’t want people to think of this time only from a negative perspective; of course while it really isn’t the best of times, those at home have indeed been almost gifted time to take off their schedules and involve themselves in creative things. She said that adults are always too busy to be doing creative and artistic things while children, nowadays, have barely any time either with school or the multitude of tution classes dumped on their schedules.
The good news is that so far, Appé Lanka has been getting good responses to the campaign including people composing their own music, making arts and crafts, conducting sing-alongs, and even people who don’t usually involve themselves with such things find themselves involved in wholly household activities such as gardening and cooking. She explained that some of her favourite creations were the arts and crafts, where people had made crafts out of old newspapers and some others who engaged in old-school hobbies of a much simpler time such as flower pressing.
While many people have sent their creations in, and with established artist such as Channa Ekanayake conducting small art workshops where he teaches people to make even the littlest space in one’s house a nature-friendly zone which attracts all kinds of beautiful creatures such as butterflies and birds, Corea wants many people to send in their work as she would like to see as much creativity as possible. Once the tough times are over, Corera hopes to conduct a large exhibition featuring all those who were involved in the campaign, where they can showcase the participants’ work and share with others their expertise as she saw how people want to know different things through the feedback she has received.
“Not everyone can contribute with money,” she said, adding: ”But some people have many skills which can be transferred into money.”
Besides this, Appé Lanka is also involved in providing aid for families in a village up north known as Poonahari where there are about 500 families who are unable to obtain their basic essentials. They have already supported about 250 of them with ration packs which cost Rs. 4,421 each and are looking for donations for the remaining 250, after which they can say that they helped the entire village. Corea said that there are many of those who are helpless amongst these people including women-headed families and daily wage workers. They have even involved the children of this village in the campaign where they drew pictures of their mothers and partook in other forms of art such as drama and so on.
If you would like to support Appé Lanka in this operation by making a donation, please contact them on 0772 872 056.