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22 June 2012
Students to help Sri Lankan civil war widows

A group of students from The University of Nottingham are to travel almost 8,000 miles to help the victims of Sri Lanka’s civil war rebuild their lives and communities.

Sri Lankan volunteers

Through their charity, Future for Jaffna (FFJ), the students aim to help widows set up their own businesses, enabling them to secure a sustainable income to provide for their families.

The team have already helped 24 widows to quadruple their income and now plan to help another 70 women when they arrive in the northern city of Jaffna this summer.

Geography and Chinese Studies student and FFJ trustee Umesh Kumar, explained: “We at FFJ teach, train and mentor widows, helping them to develop the soft skills and business knowledge needed to run their own profitable businesses in fields such as tailoring, food production and basket making.

“Working with partner organisations CORD Sri Lanka and the Norwegian Refugee Council, we are engaging with projects that are changing the lives of people in need in the third world. By giving 24 women the skills to set up their own business we have helped 103 people move above the international poverty line. This summer we hope our support will help another 400 people in Jaffna to do the same.”

The trip has been made possible after the students were awarded a grant of £9,000 for flights and accommodation from the University’s Cascade Fund. Created by donations the fund was set up to help projects that will enhance the skills, confidence, social awareness and employability of students, while making a significant impact on communities, both locally and globally.

Sarah Sullivan, Donor Relations Assistant at the University, said: “Since 2007, thanks to the generosity of our donors, more than £1 million has been shared among over 100 student projects.

“This project really demonstrates the fantastic enterprise of our students and how the Cascade fund can support those who are willing to get out there and make a crucial difference to the lives of people less fortunate than themselves.

“Alumni and friends who support the fund will be delighted to know that through their donations, our students are being helped to use their business skills to assist war widows in Sri Lanka.”

Eventually the students hope to set up an Entrepreneurial Academy in Jaffna to provide local children with the skills to become business leaders of the future.

Umesh continued: “Through creating business for those who need it most and encouraging the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, Future For Jaffna will stimulate further economic growth within the region and provide a future for Jaffna and its people.”

To find out more about FFJ, visit: www.futureforjaffna.co.uk. Or for information on Cascade, see: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/impactcampaign/campaignpriorities/thenottinghamexperience/cascade


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