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Belsize Park parents call on community to support Sri Lankan school

PUBLISHED: 11:00 24 January 2015

FOVS committee members, from left: Elaine Finkletaub-Ageh, Samir Touat, The Village School headteacher Ellen Bolsom and Lou Campbell. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

FOVS committee members, from left: Elaine Finkletaub-Ageh, Samir Touat, The Village School headteacher Ellen Bolsom and Lou Campbell. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Parents from an all-girls school in Belsize Park are urging the community to get behind their efforts to provide free meals to school children living in a Sri Lankan village devastated by the 2004 tsunami.

Friends of the Village School (FOVS), a charity set up by parents from The Village School, a preparatory school in Parkhill Road, will be putting on several events this year to raise money to support the Village School in Ratmalana, Sri Lanka.

The charity was founded by a relative of a former parent from the Belsize Park school who was rescued by a Sri Lankan fisherman after being caught up in the tsunami in December 2004 during a visit to Ratmalana.

Since 2005, FOVS has been raising £5,000 a year to pay for a daily lunch for every pupil at the Sri Lankan school. The charity also helps to fund repairs at the school and other educational initiatives.

Psychotherapist Lou Campbell, 45, became a FOVS committee member after her daughter Lola, who is nine, started at The Village School in 2012.

The mother-of-two, who lives off Highgate Hill, Highgate, said: “A relative of one of the parents from the school was in Ratmalana when the village was hit by the tsunami and was saved by a fisherman. She was obviously incredibly grateful and wanted to do something and the school wanted to do something too.

“We found that there is a school there but it wasn’t very well attended because many of the parents didn’t see the value of education and they needed the children to be working and making money.

“We realised that if we could provide a meal to the children, it would encourage them to go to school. Often it is the only meal they have in a day.”

The charity began fundraising through events such as school fetes and cake sales and the impact of the funds were quickly noticed in Ratmalana.

“Attendance at school has increased hugely,” said Ms Campbell. “All the children in the village now go to school because they get a meal.

“The parents have seen the benefits of education because a few of the children have gone off to study at university.”

The charity has organised two fundraising events for the community to be held at The Village School next month and in March respectively.

E-safety specialist Karl Hopwood will deliver a lecture titled ‘Keeping Your Children Safe Online’ at the school on February 25.

In March, author Jacky Bahbout will deliver an hour-long children’s illustration workshop at the school.

All the money raised from ticket sales for the two events will fund FOVS projects in Ratmalana.

To find out more about the charity and buy tickets to the events, visit fovs.co.uk

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