By The Committee,
End of Year Roundup:
2011 started off with a bang, with most of us in Sri Lanka for the first Gecko wedding (Suvi and Usman) and an electric New Years party at Galle Face hotel, which lasted through to sunrise.
After two months recovery, we managed to get together for our AGM. Niki and Nilmini, inspired by their participation in a peace-building visit to Sri Lanka in January, led a discussion session on the current challenges and opportunities facing the country. This new angle of thought led on to discussion about how Gecko can continue to contribute in meaningful ways to Sri Lanka’s future.
Our fundraising activities kicked off in the summer with a new event in the form of a Variety Show featuring some incredibly talented dancers, musicians and comedians. The night was a great success, and thanks must go to Ruby Basara for both organizing and performing. You can still catch some of the performances on our Youtube page.
This led swiftly on to our now legendary cricket tournament, the Gecko Sixes. New rules attracted higher than ever participation, by levelling the playing field and fostering greater competition between the pros and newbies. Thanks to Ham, as always, for his continued efforts in organizing this event.
We followed this with a Gecko weekend-getaway to the exotic location of Essex! Inspired by “The Only Way is Essex” and the wonders of ‘Bas Vegas, this was a great chance for the committee to catch up and chill out.
As the nights lengthened and weather chilled, time was ripe for another of our ghoulish Halloween parties. Guests included the Queen, John Lennon, the Powerpuff girls, and of course Mario and Luigi, amongst others.
As always, Gecko are indebted to you, our faithful supporters. Thanks to your support at our various fundraising endeavours the money we have raised this year has gone to support a number of worthwhile causes:
- Computers to a Tea Plantation:
Gecko was happy to co-ordinate the donation of 8 computer units to a computer skills learning centre at a tea plantation in Kottagala. The centre, administered by CARE International and supported by the plantation managers, provides training in IT skills to children and young people from the plantation community. Those who complete the training are examined and certified, providing a level and type of education that is critical to our age and yet not otherwise accessible to these students, and of course greatly improving their employment prospects. Unfortunately the centre currently only has 3 computers between 45 students, so we are hoping that the 8 units (currently having the relevant software loaded before being transported to the centre) will help to give all students considerably more opportunity to learn and practise their new skills.
- Malayalapuram Village Project:
The money raised from the Gecko Sixes was donated to support a village redevelopment project in the Vanni region of Sri Lanka, an area devastated by the intense fighting between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Armed forces. The villagers of Malayalapuram have endured much suffering and hardship over recent years. Having now returned home they are trying to rebuild their lives and regain a sense of normality after the tragic upheaval of war. Gecko’s contribution has helped address the lack of infrastructure and basic amenities in the area such as running water and electricity.
The Meththa Foundation supports physical rehabilitation initiatives in Sri Lanka. The foundation’s immediate objective is to provide artificial limbs to people who lost their limbs as a result of the civil conflict, predominantly but not exclusively in the Vanni region. The charity’s long term aims include the establishment of Rehabilitation Centres of Excellence in Sri Lanka to undertake rehabilitation of a variety of chronic disabling conditions in Sri Lanka. For more information, please visit the Meththa Foundation website at: http://www.meththafoundation.org.uk
Stay tuned for more information on the progress of these projects as we check in and follow their work.
This year has seen a number of developments, both in terms of the organisation’s operating procedure, and internally in the personal lives of our members.
We kick-started a concerted social media drive to promote and deepen Gecko’s engagement with our wider network of members. Alongside our Twitter page, we have revamped our Facebook page, and launched an all-new Youtube channel. Our Blog has been a tremendous success and we hope you have enjoyed the diverse range of topics covered. Notable commendation must go to Nishanth for penning the most popular post, with his roundup of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London!
On a personal level 2011 has certainly been an eventful year. Some of our members have started new jobs while others have graduated from university, two have qualified as doctors, one has written a dissertation on Sri Lanka, and we have all deepened our engagement with our motherland. We have welcomed some amazing new members, and we are anxiously and excitedly awaiting another new arrival in January 2012 – the first Gecko baby!!! Both literally and metaphorically the Gecko family continues to grow!
At this festive season, all of us at Gecko wish you the very best for the year to come. We sincerely thank you for your support throughout 2011, and hope that will continue in 2012! We have a number of events planned for the coming year and are excited at the prospect of sharing them with you!