From education to employment

Marcia Summers from CONEL is supporting Sri Lankans in need

The COVID-19 outbreak is a global tragedy and for families in Sri Lanka – especially those living in rural towns – it has been very difficult. Many cannot access essentials such as food, face masks and hand sanitiser. CONEL’s Assistant Principal, Marcia Summers, has been helping the charity Their Future Today (TFT) and the Sri Lankan NGO, Women’s Development Centre (WDC) to offer support to those in need.

Since the lockdown came into effect in Sri Lanka on 18-20 March, families in poor areas of the country have faced many new difficulties. Although Government guidelines enforce strict rules on wearing protective equipment in public, there is a nationwide shortage of these things. So, WDC have been training staff to make face masks and hand sanitiser, helping supply rural villages who would otherwise not have them. WDC is also delivering nutrition training to rural communities and showing those most at risk from malnutrition how to grow nutritious food.

Marcia’s story with the charity started in 2013 when she visited Sri Lanka on a family holiday. Before setting off, Marcia was introduced to the WDC, which had been set up in the 1980s to educate, support and strengthen abused women in Sri Lanka. The CONEL Assistant Principal agreed to visit and support the NGO during her time in the country, taking clothes and stationary and to help out in the Women’s Development Centre. The Centre is still providing relief for women subject to abuse.

Since then, Marcia has fulfilled an important role revisiting the country each year to help with the charities’ operations.

To support the effort, Marcia has raised funds for the Women’s Development Centre, organising bike rides, clothes sales, fundraising suppers and sponsored swims, and setting up Just-giving pages. She has also encouraged two members of the WDC to take part in the college’s Free short course Nutrition Level 1 – an 8-week course which will help the WDC staff members deliver training in rural locations in Sri Lanka. These members will be expected to visit local communities in Sri Lanka to deliver nutrition lessons, and donate masks and hand sanitiser.


TFT and Marcia are now raising money for food parcels for disadvantaged Sri Lankan families. These parcels contain enough dry essentials to keep a family of six going for one week, and cost just £10. So far Marcia has raised £300, which will pay for 30 parcels – keeping 180 people fed for a week.

Founded in 2005, following the devastating impact of the Asian tsunami of December 2004, ‘Their Future Today’ was set up to end the institutionalisation and suffering of vulnerable children disadvantaged through poverty in Sri Lanka. Marcia has helped the charity’s Shelter for abused women in the Kandy district and remote Tea Plantation villages, by supporting these rural areas with books for schools and clothes for the children, which they would not otherwise get.

If you would like to donate to help Marcia’s COVID-19 Sri Lanka Appeal, click here.

Related Articles