Some 60,000 schoolchildren from rural areas and poor families were provided educational aid on Tuesday under the Zam Zam Foundation's annual 'School with a Smile' project, with the theme being ‘Humanity Beyond Religion’. The relief pack given to the students contained a school bag, exercise books, stationery and a voucher to buy shoes. To distribute the packs, an event was held at the BMICH, with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya taking part as the Chief Guest while the Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thera participated as a guest speaker. Among the special guests were former national cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara and All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama General Secretary As-Sheikh M.M.A Mubarak.
“The purpose of the project is to reduce the number of students who are forced to stop their education midway due to financial difficulties,” said Ash- Sheikh Mufthi Yoosuf Haniffa, President of the Zam Zam Foundation, addressing the gathering. “It is to assist parents from low-income families, irrespective of race or religion, and to create the feeling that we all belong to one nation.” The Ven. Dhammananda Thera pointed out that none of Sri Lanka's major religions originated in this country. “They originated in different places with different cultures and at different times. We don’t live in those times anymore. Therefore, we should not think that some religions are superior.
This mindset has to be removed." Calling on all stakeholders to expedite reconciliation efforts, the Thera lamented that there had not been any proper talks on the subject yet. Speaker Jayasuriya in his address described the project as "extremely valuable" and said it set a precedent for others to follow. He said: “We should always bear in mind that our struggle should never be on any communal grounds. Our country has a bright future but it is we who are destroying it." Pointing to the recent ugly scenes in Parliament, Mr. Jayasuriya said, "The behaviour in parliament is something we should all regret. I urge the young people to educate themselves and serve the country well.” Mr. Sangakkara said that the youth should be trained to face the global challenges setting aside their racial and religious differences. Some of the other projects carried out by the Zam Zam Foundation relate to reconstruction of houses, providing clean drinking water and improving the social welfare of the people in general.