SEHH helps in Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone
A Helping Hand Foundation (Dutch: ‘Stichting Een Helpende Hand’ - SEHH) is an NGO based in the Netherlands that supports schools and cares for the disabled in Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka. SEHH is a small organization of enthusiastic and skilled volunteers, with long-term and trusted contacts in both countries. The foundation attaches great importance in personal relationships between the board, donors and beneficiaries. Hence its motto: ‘from heart to heart, from hand to hand’.
We do not favor big actions or mass publicity to obtain sympathy and financial support, but work by means of mouth to mouth publicity. Most gifts are obtained through spontaneous and annual grants from a permanent circle of sponsors. Besides, SEHH cooperates with other Dutch NGO’s to realize major projects. Our Foundation incurs little cost. From every euro received, 99% benefits our projects.
Target of SEHH
Good education and good health care break the spiral of poverty. With this target in mind SEHH cooperates with schools and care providers in poor countries. We serve with proper use of earthly resources and without distinction to race, religion or gender.
Our way of working
In the course of its thirty-year old existence the Foundation has formed reliable contacts with local care workers in Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone. We have frequent contact with them to realize
educational projects, homes for the disabled and incidental relief in case of calamities. The Foundation is continuously kept informed of the results by means of written reports, photographs and
film recordings. Besides that, the board members of the foundation visit the donor countries in person every so many years. They travel entirely at their own expenses. You will find current
information about our projects in travel reports below.
Chairman - Piet Houtenbos (urban planner, former vice-Mayor)
Treasurer - Tineke van Blijswijk (physiotherapist)
Secretariat - Sita Kooij (working in special education)
Member - Nellie Hanemaaijer-van der Windt (teacher Primary education)
Member - Frank 't Hart (physiotherapist)
What we do in Sri Lanka
Since its foundation SEHH maintains a warm relationship with Buddhist relief workers and Sisters of the Carmel Congregation. For several years now, we also support the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI). We work closely with the Dutch organizations HAVONOS and Rockids.
In 1988 first meeting took place with Buddhist monk Pannindriya Thero, head of a Buddhist training center in Colombo. We support him annually with a contribution for his social activities. He put us in touch with Sunethra Weerasinghe, who has taken care of the mentally and physically handicapped. She manages two homes in Colombo, with a total of about fifty residents. Sunethra knows how to keep the homes running with donations from the environment for the daily necessities of life. She depends on foreign donations for household purchases and the maintenance of the buildings. SEHH has been helping her for thirty years.
This energetic and accessible monk is building a village community of poor farmers near Kandy. Young people receive extra lessons in his Sunday school and he looks at the needs in his village. SEHH makes an annual contribution to its "Study Fund" and made computer training possible for young students. And that is going well!
The foundation has also developed a warm relationship with Sisters of the Carmel Congregation over many years. They work across the country in poor urban neighborhoods and disadvantaged regions. They provide, among other things, education to the poorest, housing to (orphaned) girls in boarding schools and the care of single elderly. In 2020 we help Sister Therese Ranee with an educational program in a poor region. Seventy-five children receive extra education and nutrition. And in February 2020 we provided a day out for fifty elderly people at the Carmel Home of Compassion in Colombo.
Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI)
The north of Sri Lanka has been severely underdeveloped due to the years of struggle between Tamil rebels and the government army. One of the organizations that is working with and between the residents is OMI. The "Fathers", tough hitters, are active at various locations in rural areas. They participate in community building, educate young people, help small farmers and exploit agricultural land themselves. We work closely here with Havonos from Raalte and Rockids from Hilversum, who operate on the same basis as SEHH. In 2020 we are contributing to a "Learning Work Farm", the construction of a Pre-School and the organization of computer lessons.
This active priest also works in the backward north of Sri Lanka. In 2020, we help him guiding and financing talented young people who are studying.
Board meeting SEHH: Sita, Nellie, Tineke and Piet
What we do in Sierra Leone
Shortly after the end of the civil war in 2001, SEHH started helping ten Primary schools in refugee districts of capital Freetown and later on we focused on two Secondary schools in Yonibana and Yele. Initially, we worked through trusted local representatives. For several years now, SEHH is maintaining direct contact with the authorities of the two Secondary schools. We have also changed our course in terms of help. We invest less in 'stones' and more in 'people' through improvement of education and training.
Two Secondary schools
SEHH has been supporting Yonibana Secondary School and Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School Yele since 2008. Both schools have a regional function and each have over one thousand pupils.
Ten years ago, we started providing scholarships to 150 girls. Most girls, because they are crucial in these countries for the education of children, for better hygiene and for modernization. The scholarship program is still ongoing, although talented boys are now eligible at their request. We also helped the schools with sanitation, clean water, sports and learning materials.
Nowadays, we are making extra efforts to improve the quality of education. That is still sadly low. SEHH has been sponsoring (additional) training for teachers and school leavers for several years now. They promise to return to their school as teachers after their education.
In study year 2020/2021 SEHH funds a special program on sex education to prevent premature pregnancies in Yonibana This program was prepared and proposed by two dedicated teachers.
From September 2019, the fifty teachers of SDA SS Yele receive training in better teaching. The program is provided by the English organization EducAid, based in Sierra Leone. This organization trains local trainers, who subsequently do their training in Yele.
In 2020, with our support, a Science classroom has been completed in Yele, where teaching can be done according to national required level. This new, well equipped classroom and the training program are part of a joint project with the Dutch Lion Heart Foundation (LHF), which operates a hospital in Yele.
Lion Heart Medical Center
In 2010 LHF established a small hospital in the same village of Yele. It has sixty beds and forty employees. It is headed by a Dutch tropical doctor. The LHMC needs qualified staff, both in the medical field and in administrative and logistical support. "Our" school would be a good breeding ground for that. Those circumstances brought us together to set up a joint project called "Sustainable workforce LHMC". This means extra training of hospital staff and quality improvement of education in the village. That project is in progress in 2020. The Dutch organization Wilde Ganzen also contributes to this project.
The results of the teacher training at SDA SS Yele are encouraging. For this to take root, the program must be continued for at least two years. That means continuation of the project, which we organize together with our Dutch partner Smarter Hospital. That will really make a difference!
Further on we explore the opportunities of IT-education at both schools. That must be done step by step, depending on their knowledge of computer use and maintenance. Anyway, also in Sierra Leone are computer skills the gateway to progress.
Cooperation Partners SEHH