The thoughts of children on a topic of critical importance to Sri Lanka and the world water have helped several schools receive water supply systems and sanitation projects from Brandix under a novel community initiative of the country's leading apparel exporter.
Hundreds of children aged 5 to 15 from all over Sri Lanka responded to an invitation from Brandix in March last year to pen a 250 word essay on 'My Water Wish for Sri Lanka' as part of the company's efforts to mark World Water Day, which falls on 22nd of March. The winner in each language was promised a water supply system or sanitation project to the value of Rs 100,000, while 15 merit award winners would receive projects worth Rs 60,000 each.
Emotive pleas for conservation couched in colourful language flowed in, with many contestants recalling the famous water decree of King Parakramabahu the Great, who ruled Sri Lanka during the greatest period in the history of irrigation in the country. These efforts were judged by a panel of professionals in the water sector.
When the winners were announced, several chose to donate the projects they had won to schools with greater needs than their own, displaying a sense of generosity and empathy beyond their years.
"The outcome of this project completely exceeded our expectations," said Anusha Alles, Head of CSR at the Brandix Group. "The depth of understanding evident in the essays of the children, and the compassion they displayed towards fellow students in distant areas, was heart-warming."
In the English category, Bilal Marikkar of Trinity College, Kandy and Fathima Afra Irfan of St. Paul's Girl School, Milagiriya were adjudged joint winners and each won a water supply system worth Rs 100,000. Miss Irfan requested that the water supply system she won be donated to the Sulaimaniya Muslim College, Kannattota.
The Sinhala and Tamil essay winners were Samadhi Kavishani of Basilica College, Ragama and M. Sharmini of Tholpuram Vikneshwara Vidyalaya, Chullipuram.
Among the merit award winners, Bhagya Pandithakeralage of St. Bridget's Convent, Colombo donated her project to Perakuwattana Sinhala College, Puttalam; Ranuli Palipana of Musaeus College, Colombo donated her project to Vilimbula Vidyalaya, Henegama; Joel Albert of Gateway College, Colombo donated his project to Hevavitharana Vidyalaya,Rajagiriya, and Ravinantha Bhavadharani of Kathireshan Ladies College, Nawalapitiya donated her project to Crainghead Tamil School in Nawalapitiya.
All of these water supply systems and sanitation projects have now been completed and donated to the respective schools by Brandix on behalf of the essay competition winners, ahead of World Water Day 2013.
The Brandix Group's principal CSR efforts are driven by the central corporate theme of 'Water' and constitute a long term commitment to increasing the availability of water and the provision of safe drinking water to those most in need. The Group's community outreach initiatives also include providing wells and pipe-borne water to communities in and around its manufacturing plants and the improvement of sanitation facilities in needy areas.
Brandix also conducts a series of educational programmes titled 'Jalavahini' for women leaders of community-based organisations (CBOs) in Sri Lanka's water sector, in collaboration with government agencies and likeminded corporate sector partners. In 2012, the company conducted six Jalavahini programmes, reaching representatives of more than 200 community based organisations.