Helping pupils hit by Asian tsunami.
Students from Durham University are to help re-establish a village school which was wiped out in the East Asian Tsunami disaster on Boxing Day.
Thirteen women and two men from the university will spend eight weeks in Sri Lanka in the summer to help teach 40 pupils at a village school.
The school at Palana West is being built and equipped from funds raised by the students and the Durham University Charities Kommittee (DUCK). The Durham students will also help with the teaching of fellow students at the University of Ruhuna, at the heart of the tsunami-devastated southern province, and in a school at Moraketiara, funded by Alnwick District Council, Rotarians and other North-East sponsors.
Professor Joy Palmer-Cooper, Director of the Centre for Research on Environmental Awareness and Management and Project Sri Lanka Leader at Durham University has just returned from Sri Lanka where she set up the student placement scheme.
She said yesterday: "We aim to ensure that all children in the area, regardless of whether or not they were orphaned by the tsunami, have access to a complete education.
"A lot of families had lost everything but still stayed optimistic. They really do appreciate what people in the North East are doing for them and they are looking forward to their situation getting better as time goes on."
Jenny Hobbs, principal of St Mary's College, Durham, added: "The students who are going to Sri Lanka this summer are the first of what we hope will be many more during forthcoming years. They will help to teach in the school, as well as taking part in extra-curricular activities such as art, drama, music and sport.
Volunteer Emma Brewin, 21, a geography student from Hatfield College, Durham, spent part of her gap year in Sri Lanka, and said: "During my gap year I spent some time at an underprivileged primary school in India, so I am fully prepared for the challenge of teaching a class of young children even with the language barriers."
And Kate Holman, 20, who is taking a degree in Education Studies at St Mary's, said: "I taught English at an International Summer School and also in Kenya during my gap year, which has hopefully prepared me for teaching in Sri Lanka."