Living in the shadows of an island sun

Ivoclar Vivadent has supported the Nikapotha Children’s Home in Sri Lanka for many years. Since 2006 a boys’ house and a girls’ house have been built.

Sri Lanka is a favourite holiday destination for many people. However, outside the tourist centres, proper infrastructure is scarce and schools are few and far between. Many local people are unable to access even the most basic education. Ivoclar Vivadent aims to help these people by partnering with a private initiative, which was established almost 30 years ago.

A bus ride into the interior of the island is a hot and humid affair. The bus is full and there is no air conditioning. Your clothes stick to your body immediately. The narrow road at times traverses precipitous slopes. Pot holes continuously jolt the passengers. Eight hours for 180 kilometres are quite normal here.

Heinz and Luisa Mülegg undertake this arduous journey at least once a year in order to promote their social project and provide a helping hand. Sri Lanka has become a second home to the two Liechtenstein nationals. In fact, they have found their calling on this island in the Indian Ocean.

It all started in 1990 with a piece of cardboard. On a trip through the island, the couple came across a preschool in which a black painted piece of packaging material was used as a blackboard. The couple decided to organize a proper blackboard for the school. A short time later, they also donated chairs and tables. Next, they helped replace the ramshackle mud hut which had served as the school with a small but stable structure.

A lot has happened since then. The private initiative has evolved into a non-profit organization called “Lanka Help”. Today, donations are available to finance lunch packs for the children of various educational institutions. For some of these children, this is the only meal they eat a day. New schools and children’s homes have been built and existing facilities have been upgraded. In many cases, donations are required to fund bursaries for teachers and students in an effort to keep the schools running properly. In addition, the organization pays for shared taxis to transport children to and from school. It also tries to convince parents who are sceptical about sending their children to school about the benefits of a formal education for their children and their families. Building awareness is an important task. Many mothers and fathers have accepted the fact that they and their children will live out their lives as cheap unskilled labourers on the numerous tea and rubber plantations in the country.

Despite a lot of hard work and many successes, there is still a lot to do in Sri Lanka. Therefore, Ivoclar Vivadent will continue to support “Lanka Help” in its efforts.