The Penney Family & Team Solihull’s next ultra-challenge to raise funds for clean Water Wells

An appeal by The Penney Family and Team Solihull to friends and supporters of UK Assist RR & IMHOUK Fundraising Goal of £18,000

Dear friends,

We are taking on our next ultra-challenge in the hope that you will sponsor us. Your support would help us provide constant access to clean, uncontaminated water supplies for families and school children across the Upcountry, North and East.

The Problem

Many of Sri Lanka’s poorest people do not have regular and safe access to uncontaminated running water. This gives rise to a range of health, hygiene and hydration issues, which in turn adversely affect both livelihoods and education. Many children are missing school because of contaminated water illnesses and many teenage girls are missing even more of their education due to inadequate sanitary facilities at school when menstruating. At a time of severe downward economic pressure on Sri Lanka’s most disenfranchised people, the poorest families don’t have the means to cultivate sufficient fruit and vegetables for their own use or to sell surplus yields to generate livelihood income without easy access to running water.

The Solution – Clean Water Wells

IMHO USA, Assist RR UK and Well-Being (Sri Lanka) will work in partnership to raise funds, identify those most in need, implement the building of water wells and deliver on their efficacy.We will also partner with the Agricultural Faculty of Jaffna University to provide the beneficiaries with seed packages and training in optimising the growth of high yield crops for personal and livelihood benefits. A typical shallower dug-out well currently costs about £500 and a deeper tubed borehole well costs approximately £1000. Should individual or family donors sponsor a well in full, we will include a naming plaque and send photos in return.

The HUGE Incentive

The Board of IMHO USA will very generously match everything you donate, up to approx. £18,000 ($20,000). This paves the way for us to double our impact if we can reach our target.

Our pledge & your donations

100% of donations made via the most appropriate link for you below will go directly towards this projectAll we need now is your support to make it happen and we would be forever grateful if you would donate through one of the channels listed here:

Our Ultra-Challenge – the 50km Windsor Challenge

The community of Solihull School has been a long-term supporter of Sri Lanka’s poorest people. Having previously raised funds for numerous education, health care and livelihood projects our team of over 20 staff, pupils and parents, past and present, will take on the 50km Easter Challenge from Windsor Racecourse, looping through the Great Park, Windsor Castle, Runnymede and along the Thames Path on 1st April 2023. We would very much appreciate your support in transforming lives for the better and we look forward to keeping donors up to date with developments.

With very best wishes, The Penney family & Team Solihull

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2199 Cataract Surgeries funded by Team Solihull in Sri Lanka

Mr Mark Penney, Headmaster of Solihull Preparatory School, made an appeal in April 2021 (, for providing free cataract surgeries in Sri Lanka. As a result of this appeal, Solihull School Community (Team Solihull) raised £45,270.00 in the UK (including gift aids) through our charity Assist RR. Due to Covid-19, it wasn’t practical to conduct many surgeries in 2021. However, Assist RR have now managed to complete this project, and funded 2199 surgeries in Sri Lanka. Breakdown of these surgeries is given in this link: Team Solihull Cataract Surgeries Summary. Some photos are also attached from these camps. I am sure you can see the smiles and happiness of the patients, who benefitted from this project. None of these patients will ever have the means of reversing this preventable blindness for themselves. In total, we spent £50,038.00 for these 2199 surgeries. Team Solihull raised £45,270.00 and Assist RR contributed £4768.00.

We would like to express our gratitude to Team Solihull and to everyone who donated very generously towards this project. Special thanks should go to Mark & Donna Penney, and their team for walking 53kM for raising this amazing sum of funds. We also would like to thank all the surgeons (14 of them), who volunteered to carry out these 2199 surgeries. Surgeons’ names are given in Team Solihull Cataract Surgeries Summary. We would like to mention Dr M Malaravan, Surgeon, Jaffna Teaching Hospital (TH), who performed 827 surgeries for patients from Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaithivu at Jaffna TH, Dr N Niroshan, Surgeon at Kalmunai North DGH (600 surgeries), and Dr Waruna Wijayasriwardena, Surgeon at Anurathapura TH (320 surgeries). Patients were taken to Jaffna from Vanni districts by buses organised by Assist RR. Following a request from the director of Colombo National Eye Hospital, Dr A R M Thowfeek, we funded 200 surgeries at the Colombo National Eye Hospital including 50 to the inmates of Welikada prison. 

This is a huge support to the patients in Sri Lanka, as there is lack of medical supplies to the hospitals. Most of the hospitals are relying on donations to perform their routine surgeries. Following the successful completion of this project, a philanthropist from Malaysia has already provided a significant sum of funds for continuing our cataract project. Our sincere gratitude to his family for their continued support to the needy people in Sri Lanka.  We have already received several requests from hospitals for support to carry out cataract surgeries. We will continue with our endeavour to assist vulnerable people with the support of many of you, who have been supporting very generously.  

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Enhancement of living and livelihood conditions in Parankiyamadu villgae, Kiran, Batticaloa

Further to our appeal for the above project in Oct 2020, we received financial supports from a Philanthropist from Malaysia (funded through the Alaka Foundation, and Tamil Forum Malaysia (TFM)), and the International Medical Health organisation (IMHO), USA. These were in addition to the funds raised by Assist RR in the UK. Assist RR, Sri Lanka, started the project in Dec 2020 and completed almost everything in July 2021, except half of the fishing nets, which were handed over in Feb 2022. The total cost of the project was LKR 30,284,407.00. We managed to complete the following despite the considerable challenges we faced during this difficult pandemic period: 43 shelters & 45 new toilets; Completed 43 toilets that were half done previously by others and not usable; 16 boats and engines to benefit 80 families (one boat and engine shared by 5 families); 160 nets to the above 80 families to use on the boats (2 nets per family); 132 nets to 33 families who already had their own canoes but couldn’t fish due to no nets; 12 nets to another 3 families. We were able to do all these for less costs due to the intelligent, efficient, and selfless efforts of our Sri Lankan president – Engineer Henry Amalarj. He constructed each shelter at a cost of LKR 350,000.00 (see attached photo) and each new toilet for LKR 56,250.00. He faced many difficulties due to Covid19 but still managed to complete the project in a very cost-efficient manner. Break down of the project and funds received are given below:

This project has completely transformed the living and livelihood conditions of the village. Families have decent shelters without worrying about rainy days, they have toilets without the need to go out in the open, the men are staying in their villages and are feeding their families by going out to the sea and fish. We were able to do all these because of the significant contributions from Malaysian Philanthropist through TFM, IMHO USA, and the support of Assist RR friends in the UK. CHRF, UK, had already funded 35 wells in this village that were completed by Henry Amalaraj. We feel privileged to have been able to facilitate the significant enhancement of living conditions for the 120 families who live in village. We would like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who were involved in this project.

Original Appeal of this project:

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Fundraising for Cataract Camps in Sri Lanka by Team Solihull

You may recall that back in 2018 Mr Mark Penney and Mrs Donna Penney took on the challenge of a very long walk. With the support of kind-hearted donors, and that of their friends and family, they were able to raise over £53,000 for a livelihood project which provided self-sustaining fishing incomes for close to 100 families in Sri Lanka. We are happy to report that those interventions proved life changing for the wider network of family members who benefited directly from the generosity of their donors. On June 26th 2021, Mark & Donna will set off on another very long walk (53KM) but this time they will be joined by a sizeable group (Team Solihull – 16 of them) all of whom are either staff, pupils or parents of Solihull School – past and present. The community of Solihull School has been a long and very generous supporter of the work Assist RR and IMHO USA do, raising in excess of £100,000 for education, healthcare and livelihood projects in the north and east of Sri Lanka. This time Team Solihull have set their sights on preventing or reversing blindness in over 1000 of Sri Lanka’s poorest people, none of whom will ever have the means of doing so for themselves. As donors, you are also incentivised by the hugely generous prospect of IMHO USA pledge matching all monies raised up to $20,000 and the assurance that 100% of your donations will be directed to the beneficiaries. With the full support of donors, we can offer cataract surgeries for just £30 each. Please consider sponsoring Mark, Donna & Team Solihull. We know we can count on the community of Solihull School to offer their support as the community is familiar with the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Therefore, as Tamil Diaspora, please join the community of Solihull School in making a very real, life changing difference to 1000+ innocent victims of the civil war. Please use the link below to make your contribution:

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An appeal to assist victims of war in Parankiyamadu villgae, Kiran DS division of Batticaloa district

Sri Lankan AssistRR president Eng. Henry Amalraj recently received a request to visit the above village to assess the living conditions in the village. Henry visited it and identified that there were many desperate needs including wells, toilets, shelters, and livelihood support. He approached Children’s Hunger Relief Fund (CHRF), UK, who agreed to fund 35 wells. A project for providing wells, funded by CHRF, is currently underway. Henry also requested AssistRR, UK, to visit the village to assess their needs. AssistRR visited this village on 13/14 Oct 2020 and assessed the needs. There are nearly 150 families, including rehabilitated LTTE former members, living in this village. One family of 3 children, of which the wife was a rehabilitated LTTE member, did not have mats to sleep on the sand floor and was using a piece of string and a piece of saree tied together to fetch water from the well. This family’s need was addressed immediately. The following needs were identified as a result:

  1. 44 families need proper shelters as they are now living in very pathetic condition – Planning to build safe and acceptable shelters @ Rs 300k per shelter.
  2. 45 families have no toilets and have been using the bushes as cover in the outskirts of the village.
  3. There are 43 half-done toilets that need completion.

There are 28 women headed families including a number of young widows. AssistRR are very keen to provide some livelihood support to these women headed families. There are another 122 families, who are capable of fishing. However, due to lack of fishing gear, men are working as fishing labourers in Udappu, near Puttalam. The families are very eager to commence their fishing activities in their own village, so that the men can stay at home and work. This would require assistance to purchase fishing gear as follows: 40 families have canoes and are requesting fishing nets only; 3 families have boats and engines, but need nets to go fishing; Remaining 79 families would require engine boats and nets for fishing locally. We could provide one set of boat, engine and nets to five families. This would equate to needing 16 boats. An anonymous donor family have agreed to fund £25k to purchase 10 sets of boats at a cost of around Rs 600,000.00 per set. We need another £20k to purchase another 6 sets of boats and nets to 43 families mentioned above.

The total cost of this project is around £122k. IMHO USA has agreed to join forces and have already started raising funds. CHRF, UK, is also considering contributing towards building 45 new toilets at a total cost of around £15k. AssistRR and IMHO USA need to raise around £82k to complete this project. In order to raise funds for this project, AssistRR have started a crowdfunding appeal for which we are aiming to raise £50,000. We would love it if you could donate using the link below to access our project page. Any contribution large or small will be hugely appreciated. Thank you. Please donate by pressing here

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Donating Medical Equipment to Mullaitivu DG Hospital

Dr Sivanesan Pirabakaran was recently appointed to Mullaitivu District General Hospital (DGH) as acting consultant Dermatologist. He was trying to establish a permanent fully equipped skin unit in the history of Mullaitivu DGH. Dr Pirabakaran has seen numerous patients with viral warts, Seborrheic keratosis, epidermal nevus, molluscum contagiousum, and various tiny skin tumours in his day-to-day skin clinic at his clinic. He informed Assist RR that the best treatment for these conditions are either cryotherapy or electro cautery. Unfortunately these instruments were not available at Mullaitivu DGH or at Medical supply division of Health Ministry. Dr Pirabakaran was therefore managing the patients by sending them to Kilinochi DGH for treatments. However, patients were suffering as a result of the need to travel to Kilinochchi. Dr Pirabakaran made a request to Assist RR to donate a Brymill liquid nitrogen Cryotherapy set (a gun and a tank) to the skin clinic at Mullaittivu DGH. An anonymous kind hearted donor donated £3000 for purchasing this set of equipment, which was handed over to skin clinic of Mullaitivu DGH on 14 July 2020. Dr Niluxson, Director of Mullai DGH, and Dr Pirabakaran, consultant Dermatologist, received the equipment set from Assist RR.

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Assistance to Daily Wage Earners during Coronavirus Crisis

It is almost a month since the curfew was imposed in Sri Lanka. Although the government had promised financial support to families, who depend on daily wage earners, they are yet to receive any support from the government. It appears that these families may receive a grant of Rs 5000.00 per family shortly. However, we have been told that these families have been borrowing from friends and families for their survival for nearly a month and this grant of Rs 5000 will not last longer after paying back the loans. Following the appeal on 28 March, AssistRR have managed to raise Rs 6,778,816.00 and assisted 6700 families by providing Rs 1000.00 worth of dry rations, that should last for a week for a family of 4/5. We received contributions from like minded organisations and friends as given in this link: Coronavirus relief efforts. In addition to IMHO’s Rs 1,550,000 support (assisted 1500 families), IMHO USA have directly distributed dry rations to another 7820 families in the north and east of Sri Lanka. In total, AssistRR, IMHO, and other likeminded organisations and individuals have supported 14520 families in the north and east of Sri Lanka since the start of this campaign. Please click this link (Coronavirus relief efforts) to see the table for the areas (Divisional Secretariat Divisions) and number of families covered. The beneficiaries have been identified and selected by the respective Divisional Secretaries with the assistance of Grama Sevakas. Distribution of dry rations were also carried out by the Divisional Secretaries. Please note that we haven’t met the 100% need, which was around 120,000 families in the north and east. AssistRR would like to thank all like minded organisations and individuals who supported this appeal and ensured that 14520 families were able to survive for at least a week.

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