News & Updates

 

 

Teacher Training Workshop- Mulativu May 2016

Mrs. Anderson along with her teachers visited Mulativu and conducted a 2 day teacher training workshop for 35 early educators from Mulativu andpudukuduiripp Districts.

The feedback by teachers:

  • This is the first time we were exposed to peace carriculam in our career. ( Education through Peace).
  • We never knew that children could solve their problems through conflict resolution taught by you’ll. These leanings are really valuable and we will use it in our curriculum effectively.

Bridge 2 Peace: January Newsletter

The Official Opening of Schools

The schools have opened the past couple months, including Bridge 2 Peace House of Children in the rainforest of Lunugamwehera, and a brand new non-profit school in the tea plantations of Diyathalawa.  We issued 102 applications and had interviews for all the applicants. They only had 50 vacancies available to fill for new early education students. Due to long distance, the admissions team had to decline 27 applicants. Students who attend B2P Montessori have to live within 3 km of the school. The admissions process is extensive and after 75 home visits, they were able to choose 50 children from poor and local homes.

Another new exciting addition to B2P is thenewly decorated library! (pictured to the right) Kshenuka De Zoysa’s parentsKavinda De Zoysa & Nishani De Zoysa generously funded some alterations to this space, including a new fan and brand new cushions for the children to sit on.

Mrs. Bernadine Anderson— the directress and founder of Bridge 2 Peace is shown here giving a presentation on how to turn the pages of a book and reading a story to the toddlers (pictured to the right). The library is one of their favorite places to spend time. As you can see Bridge 2 Peace Montessori House of Children now has uniforms for teachers and students! They were generiously given by a parent in Ratmalana, who’s child attends La Petite Fleur Academy, a sister school.

Check out these photos of the school in action, morning peace prayers and classroom work. March 21st, the school will be celebrating its 10th anniversary!!

Pictured to the right, is a picture taken from a home visit in the neighboring village.
Newly Decorated Library
Mrs. Bernadine Anderson teaching in the Library

B2P Lunugamwehera held their first event in the school calendar two days ago. They celebrated “Thai Pongal.” It is an event celebrated by Hindus to symbolize a bountiful harvest,  and it was a colorful way to start the school year. The solemn ceremony carry the message of peace, unity and oneness with nature to all of us. It was celebrated with the traditional manner with the cooking of the ‘pongal” which comprises of rice, jaggery, green grams, milk, honey, and ghee with plums & cashews. The children really enjoyed this traditional Hindu meal which was something different from what they are used to having. They were also fascinated by the “kolams” drawn on the ground with colored rice flour. 

The Opening of the New School

The new school in Diyathalawa opened earlier this month! On the anniversary of Bernadine’s fathers birthday, on his land, in mid-south tea plantation region of Sri Lanka. The first day brought in 13 new children, but they are looking for a total of 25 at the official start of the semester. Similar to the B2P House of Children in Lunugamvehera, there is an intense application process as well.

The majority of the children at the Diyathalawa school are of Tamil descent and are children of tea plantation workers. These workers were brought over by British colonists from India in the 19th century. These “…upcountry Tamils, who make up around 5% of the country’s population, live in the same two-room dwellings that the British had built for their forebears. The families residing in these shacks do so without running water or electricity…” It has been difficult for this specific group of people, brought into Sri Lanka off a culture of servitude, to gain basic welfare rights and effectively integrate into the community. This new school isbenefitting the children of these impoverished families, allowing them free access to education, transportation to and from school and a free meal during school attendance.Like many of the LPF and B2P schools, it is a community-based school so parents of these children help cook and tend the land that surrounds the school.

I spoke to Natalie and Nadiya Anderson, Bernadine’s daughters about the opening day. They spoke about the appreciation and lack of entitlement that these families had. They described how mind boggling it was to see these children interact and explore materials they have never seen before. (See Picture Below).

 “When we gave them lunch, we served food that wasn’t typical in that region, that was much more expensive, different than  the lentils and rice they are used to. I watched this little girl break up a piece of sweet butter cake as if it was rice, it was the first time she had probably ever eaten something like that in her life.” – Natalie Anderson

Bridge 2 Peace would not be the organization it is if it wasn’t for our volunteers and supporters! Thank you for your communication, interest and participation. Please donatehttp://www.bridge2peace.org/donate-now/ if you are interested in helping support the new school and other non-profit schools. 
Copyright © 2016 Bridge 2 Peace, All rights reserved.

December Newsletter

 

Thank you to everyone who came to our Kottu House Fundraiser! We had a great time eating delicious (and spicy!) Sri Lankan street food, talking and looking at pictures of the Bridge 2 Peace school. Thank you for all that donated and gave their time to our cause.
It feels great to know we have a U.S. community that is here to support us. Please feel free to email me with any ideas for an upcoming fundraiser, if you know anyone who is an international grant writer, anyone that would be interested in supporting us!

The Bridge 2 Peace House of Children, in Lunugamvehera, Sri Lanka, is now the ideal school model for all of Bernadine’s Schools. The school is enthusiastically supported by local villages and is known to enroll children from the poorest families within a 5 mile radius. As stated in the first newsletter, these rules are in place is because everyone in the surrounding area wants their children to attend. There were families camping outside the school the night before enrollment! Bernadine Anderson and the B2P team hope to make this school the training grounds for teachers from all the other schools.

Upholding the Montessori Method

Bridge 2 Peace continues to work to uphold the Montessori Method. Maria Montessori, an Italian educator and physician believed in a holistic and hands-on approach to learning. Montessori Education incorporates activities for students’ mental, social, emotional and physical development. Collaboration and learning from others, as well as uninterrupted work blocks, encourages independence and critical thinking skills. Teacher Trainings help to maintain the Montessori philosophy. Periodically through the year, teachers and administrators from Colombo visit The Bridge to House School of Children and other partner schools and include trainings for the teachers to make sure they are upholding the Montessori method.

Bernadine Anderson has adapted the method to be more up to date and fit her own students’ needs. The Bridge 2 Peace Organization is hoping to spread Bernadine’s Montessori philosophy across to different neighborhood schools. They hope to culturize the method to fit the needs of different areas in Sri Lanka, beginning with practical life skills and tutorials.

The Peace Gang celebrates International Day of Peace!


Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21st. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The Peace Gang at the Dehiwala school celebrated all day and spoke with two professors, Dr. Spinks (pictured above) visited from University of Hong Kong, chair of the Political Science department. The other professor was Dr. Mohamed Asees who currently teaches at Colombo University in the Department of Political Science for both Undergraduate and Post Graduate students. His research areas are peace building, conflict studies, human security and IDP studies. He worked with students from the Peace Gang and discussed peace building efforts in Rwanda after the genocide.

Image taken in Galle, Sri Lanka, on top of an old Dutch Fortress

Image taken in Galle, Sri Lanka, on top of an old Dutch Fortress

U.S. / NYC Folks! Please come to the Kottu House on Wednesday, November 25th from 4pm-12am, eat some traditional Sri Lankan street food, meet reality stars Natalie & Nadiya Anderson, & donate $5 or more to Bridge 2 Peace! Proceeds will continue to help impoverished children in Sri Lankan villages get a free education. Donations will also support the new school Bernadine is opening in Diyatalawe. 

(Kottu House– 250 Broom Street, New York, NY 10002)

Join Us!!

 

 

Hello U.S. & Sri Lankan Friends!

My name is Alexa Del Piano, I am a friend of Bernadine Anderson, I grew up alongside Nadiya and Natalie (Bernadine’s twin daughters) I am also an artist-activist, peace builder, and the new Communications Coordinator in the U.S. for Bridge 2 Peace.

As some of you may know from the fundraiser we held in Spring 2013, I lived and worked in Sri Lanka for the summer of 2012. I was awarded a grant from my college and implemented a sustainable art and english program with the children at the Dehiwala Elementary/Middle Montessori School, the Bridge 2 Peace House of Children Montessori in Lunugamvehera, and a public High/Middle School in the village of Thondaimanaru, close to Jaffna in the northern province of Sri Lanka.

I worked alongside Uncle Ravi helping teach English in Dehiwala, and helped alongside classes whenever asked. Everyday I was allotted my own table during resource time/free periods for students to work on artwork. After much research on the Sri Lankan conflict and the capabilities of art-making on the psyche, I had pre-planned an art program that was not only sustainable, but utilized materials from the students’ backyards. It was pertinent to me not to bring materials from the U.S. as this would show the children what was possible but not continual once I left. After some time, I was able to create paints from spices, flowers and fruit found in local markets; all I needed was some heat and corn flour.

With the older children in the northern province and the children from the Middle/Elementary school in the suburbs of Colombo in Dehiwala, I worked on teaching creativity and self expression. We worked on self portraits which encouraged utilizing art as an outlet and increased self esteem.

In the northern province, in the village of Thondaimanaru, we specifically catered to a war-torn environment and recognized that many of the children we worked with, had seen nothing but war most of their childhood. Alongside two other interns, Myra Veres and Ashish Chawla, we worked to translate and organize self portraits and facilitated a Photo Voice Project with the after school Peace Gang. The Photo Voice Project encouraged students to reflect on their community, and therefore reflect on their identity and sense of belonging in their community, which was still very unstable at the time.

With that said, my time working with Bridge 2 Peace reaffirmed my belief in peace education, arts integration, and art as a therapy for community building. It is my hope to help continue these programs, better communicate with U.S. folks and work to support Bridge 2 Peace as much as I can.

Now, check out the rest of this newsletter to hear what Bernadine Anderson, and the B2P organization has been up to recently!

Updates on Schools

Now in Fall 2015, Bernadine Anderson and the B2P team have opened 5 schools with one in the Northern Province opening in December.

    There are 2  for-profit schools in the suburbs of Colombo under the common name La Petite Fleur Academy (LPF), one is solely a Pre-K school in Ratmalana and one neighbors Bernadine’s house in Dehiwala and is an Elementary / Middle School.  These schools have quite the diverse student population—both economically and culturally because of the city demographics. These two schools have mastered the Montessori method and work to support the Bridge 2 Peace House of Children in Lunugamvehera. Students enrolled at the LPF Academy have a sustainable program where they donate meals for children’s birthdays, and coordinate clothing and toiletry drives for the B2P House of Children. LPF Academy also has an active Peace Gang, an extracurricular group of students that promote peace by engaging in activities in the Sri Lankan community. The LPF Peace Gang travels south to the B2P House of Children, and works to give back to the B2P branch of the Peace Gang, which incorporates children from villages in Lunugamvehera.

    The Bridge 2 Peace House of Children, in Lunugamvehera, the southwestern rainforest area enrolls 70-80 pre-k Montessori students each year. Since its founding in 2005,  developed in response to the devastating tsunami, the school has worked to solidify its Montessori philosophy and nurturing environment. It is now the model school for all the schools in the area. Bernadine Anderson hopes to move similar education to all four corners of the island. She hopes to incorporate the Montessori Method, emphasis on peace education and inclusion of English and Tamil as well as Sinhala (the majority language/particularly native language to the southern region). At first there was pushback to including Tamil, due to the residual ethnic tension, but overtime, the children have learned all three languages enthusiastically. It is this initial pushback that Bernadine hopes to move past completely with the ultimate goal of spreading peace education in Sri Lanka. The B2P House of Children has been passionately supported by the local villages and is known to enroll children from the poorest of poor families (on food stamps) within a 5 mile radius. The reason why these rules are in place is because everyone in the surrounding area wants their children to attend. Every night before enrollment families camp out so they are first to apply! With government authorization that such families are in fact, below the poverty line, and home visits, then parents are able to apply. Due to the progress that the school has made, Bernadine Anderson and the B2P team hope to make this school the training grounds for teachers from all the other schools.

    During the summer of 2012, another pre-k Montessori La Petite Fleur school opened in the little beachside town of Galle, on the southern tip of Sri Lanka. In the Fall of 2012, with the help of Scanwell Logistics, Bernadine opened another LPF school situated in Visakapatnam in India. Both of these schools have admission/management fees and support Bridge 2 Peace. 

     The school in India has steered the way financially for a new school in the northern district, in Mullaitivue, close to Jaffna. This school just opened  August 2015. B2P gained official government approval and support for the school to open, due to previous work in that region. The Alpha Project, which worked to rehabilitate child soldiers and the sustainable art project in the public school with the U.S. interns both helped the government in seeing the capabilities that a new school could bring to the region. The LPF team and Scanwell Logistics also worked hard to open this school. There are already 3 trained Montessori teachers working there. There is a great need for help in this area as it was the most engulfed in war and turmoil in comparison to the rest of the country.

    Recently, B2P is working on another school in Diyatalawe which is located in the central tea plantation region of Sri Lanka. This region has a very mixed population of people (Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim) who are all very impoverished. The creation of the school is ultimately bringing the community together and the utilization of peace education will perpetuate youth to learn and grow alongside each other. The building of the school has been funded by Natalie Anderson, Bernadine’s daughter and the winner of the 28th season of Survivor: San Juan del Sur. It has also been funded by diverse donors from local tea plantations. The grand opening is expected to be in December and Bridge 2 Peace teachers and staff would appreciate any help towards contributing to this new schools’ ongoing operations.