The Bill Cook Foundation works in some dangerous places because school is often a ‘luxury’ in a culture of war. Last summer intern and volunteer Sam Glowinski and I visited Sri Lanka. Thanks to an introduction by Episcopal Bishop Emeritus William Swing of San Francisco, Sam and I met with the founder of a movement to bring peace and understanding to that too often violent country. The Sarvodaya Movement, founded by Gandhi Peace Prize winner A.T.Ariyaratne, is an interfaith peace organization. From it came Sarvodaya Shanthi Sena Sandasaya, a youth movement to bring peace to the wounded island that is Sri Lanka. Dr. Ariyaratne invited Sam and me to lunch, and we talked of a partnership between our two programs.
Subsequently, the Bill Cook Foundation agreed to build two pre-schools, and we are now building three more. We provide the materials, but the schools are built by villagers. The buildings are not only schools but also meeting places for the community to discuss peace and reconciliation. Each also includes a micro lending bank. These buildings are not only schools but important, political, religious, and economic meeting places in the community. We are proud to partner with the Sarvodaya movement.
With the horrific bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, the need for facilities like our five pre-schools is more important than ever. We all pray in whatever tradition we follow for peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
We are also a principal sponsor of schools in Twic State in South Sudan. We installed solar panels in the remote village of Upkwa in Cameroon. Now, there is civil strife there, and the school is closed. Furthermore, there are reports of Christians (majority) killing Muslims; I fear for Upkwa because it is a majority Muslim village.
The first photos show some of the children who benefit from the availability of pre-school in Sri Lanka. The meeting of adults to discuss reconciliation at one of the pre-schools that Sam and I visited, and the construction and dedication celebration of one of the pre-schools that was funded by the Bill Cook Foundation—all made possible by your support.
The photo with the goats show the future Bill Cook Secondary School in South Sudan, and the last photo is meeting I attended in the Cameroon village of Upkwa.