For my birthday last year, you changed the world forever

Us in Sri Lanka
My mother, brother and I in Sri Lanka

As some of you will remember, last year on my birthday I put out a request for friends to contribute towards creating a library in a developing country to help children learn about themselves, language and the world. We raised $5,000 together and I’m very happy to report that earlier this year the project was complete.

I chose Sri Lanka for a number of reasons based on their current economic, social and political challenges, however I primarily think of Sri Lanka as a wonderfully lush tropical country I was lucky to travel to when I was 7 years old. I used to live in Hong Kong so our holidays tended to be in the Far East and one year my whole family spent time in Sri Lanka and the neighbouring Maldives Islands. I vividly remember walking around a horse racetrack one morning in the hills of Kandy with a light mist in the air and  fantastical bird cries, monkeys and insects surrounding us in the jungle. We went to tea plantations and saw fields of pepper being grown and from my perspective, I didn’t notice any of the issues brewing which have affected Sri Lanka since then. It was truly a magical experience.

Location of the library
India and the location of the library in Sri Lanka

Today the country is still dealing with the fall out of a 25 year civil war which officially ended in 2009. Figures estimate nearly 100,000 people were killed during that period and I’m sure the internal migration due to people fleeing violence caused countless other problems. Over 35,000 were killed during the 2004 tsunami and half a million were displaced. Also, in some areas over 93% of the population is illiterate. With these reasons in mind and my connection with the beautiful country, I chose Sri Lanka to be the benefactors of our gift.

Here’s the report from the charity Room to Read who organised it and here are the highlights:

What we providedRoom to Read Completion Report David Woodier Library1

  • The School is in the town of Madawalagama in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is just off the south eastern coast of India.
  • There are 101 students and it’s great to see there are a lot of girls going to this school (56 girls & 45 boys).
  • There are 8 teachers in total and as part of the library we helped create, they’ll receive training over the next 3 years to support the use of the library into the future.
  • We provided the following resources:Teaching Sri Lanka
    • A library storage location
    • 226 English books
    • 487 local language books
    • Games and Puzzles
    • Other Educational Materials and Stationery
  • 3 years support and training for library staff

Thank you

A big THANK YOU to all who contributed as well as those who have enjoyed watching this process unfold and may not have contributed money, but contributed your thoughts and wishes. I also thank John Wood (Leaving Microsoft to Change the World) the founder of and Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) whose stories inspired me to create this opportunity for us all.Room to Read Completion Report David Woodier Library2

Gratitude is the remedy to Depression. Any time you’re feeling down, reflect on those children whose lives you impacted so gracefully. They may never meet you yet you were instrumental in their growth and their lives. Well done!


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