Sarvodaya Nilwala Vishva Dharma Kendra, a development education center, was opened by Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, Sarvodaya Founder, opened amidst a special function in Matara on February 13th. This new educational facility in Matara will be one of the most modern and well-equipped development education training centres in the Southern Province providing facilities to serve over 200 trainees at a given time and with a multitude of other services.

The Center was declared opened at the presence special guests and Sarvodaya volunteers from Matara district. Minister Councellor of Norwegian Embassy Ms. Hilda Harastad, Governor of Southern Province Mrs. Kumari Balasuriya and Minister of Post and Telecommunication Mr. Mahinda Wijesekare were present at the occasion.

The Centre consists of three buildings spread over a one acre block of land bordering the famous Nilwala River. This centre was constructed with financial support from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC), Sarvodaya USA., and the Norwegian Agency for International Development (NORAD).

The new centre consists of a building complex, which provides residential facilities for 50 trainees and seminar/conference facilities for over 100 persons, a library, a peace resource centre, vocational training facilities, which include computer and Information Communication Technology (ICT) related subjects as well as catering & bakery industry, sewing and a variety of other employable trades.

The overall premises have been designed to reflect Sarvodaya’s vision of an awakened society which combines social and economic aspects with spiritual and cultural values. There will be outdoor serene environment for meditation, sports facilities for youth and environmental/ecology related plots closer to the Nilwala River bank.

The Southern Province has been the seat of youth unrest and rebellious movements in the past. Sarvodaya has been working in the rural villages of Matara since the early 1960s to uplift the socio-economic conditions of the people in the district. Today, Sarvodaya has a presence in 379 villages in the district. As part of its Tsunami recovery programme, Sarvodaya found that a skills training program would be ideal for empowering affected youth, helping them to generate income and improve marketable vocational skills. Improving their job skills is imperative if they are to regain some sort of normalcy in their lives following the tsunami.

Students at the Centre will have access to language skills training (Oral Tamil for Sinhala speakers, Oral Sinhala for Tamil speakers and English), which can create new opportunities for cooperation and understanding, as well as employment. A special feature at the Centre will be a resource library with the latest books and materials, giving students access to the most recent technical knowledge.

The Peace Resource Centre will be one of the 10 such Peace Resource Centres that Sarvodaya will be establishing through out the country. The other Peace Resource Centres are located in Trincomallee, Batticoloa, Kalmunai, Hambantota, Galle, Colombo, Nuwara Eliya, Puttalam and Mannar.

A New Development Education Center in Matara