PBF SRI LANKA – in retrospect and present
The Peter Bachmann Foundation has been in Sri Lanka since its inception in 1994. The very first contacts to Sri Lanka date back to 1964, Peter was alone on a very adventurous journey by road from Zurich to the Orient, up to the former Ceylon. Until the creation of a legal foundation in Switzerland (1994) Peter was allowed to build a large network of friends among the locals, buddhists, christians and muslims. He could implement countless small or larger projects.
Many very different projects have been realized in these recent decades with satisfactory out comes. Most of these projects were community based as well as some individual help initiatives.
In this February 2016 Peter sent Dan and Sonja Amolo to preside over the handing over of The Dr. Peter Bachmann Children Center to the Jesuit Congregation in Sri Lanka. This Center is for mentally handicapped children, “slow learners”.
Dan and Sonja used this opportunity to conduct an overview of the Foundation work over the years, with the help of Mr. Nicholas Nanayakara who has worked with Peter over a long period, several projects were visited and the situation on the ground was very positive.
PBF has built more than 2000 houses in Sri Lanka over the years. The families identified for housing were very poor rural folks who lived in what could only be called temporary caves. They were exposed to harsh climatic conditions and vulnerability to wild animals especially Elephants which destroyed their homes and crops. Peter with the locals led by Fr. Joseph Tissera and Mr. Nicholas embarked on identification of the very needy in various villages in Puttalam district namely Wanathavilluwa, Karuvalagasveva and Manuavangamuwa and Thissogama as well as in Kurunagala district, in the villages of Dummalasuriya, Galgamuwa, Polpithigama, Bibiladeniya and Rasvehera
The original houses were simple 3 roomed but well built with bricks for wall and tiles for roofing.. The beneficiaries were encouraged to take care of their houses and expand them later if they so wished. After several years, the houses are unbelievably well taken care of, almost all beneficiaries have expanded their houses and other amenities like water and electricity have been fixed by the owners and local government. The villagers are very appreciative to PBF for giving them the opportunity to make their first step in life. This shows literally that PBF is a Foundation that gives the very needy the first building stone from where they can lay more stones and build their lives for better.
Building of Public Institutions and other Facilities.
With the help of a Swiss Charitable Organization Kiwanis Club Peter built the Peter Bachmann Special Children Center in Chilaw on a land donated by the Bishop. PBF has supported this Center for the last 14 years. The center was handed over to the Jesuits Province but PBF continues to support with staff salaries until the Jesuits can fully take care. This is a very good gesture in Development Aid and Partnership. Many projects founded by donors always hang on donor assistance forever. This creates a vicious circle of dependency which has affected development cooperation negatively especially in the third world. The main reason is always the failure to recognize the capacity of the local population and not giving them the orientation to take responsability for their gains from donors. PBF with a lot of effort from Mr. Nicholas has set a very good example that should be emulated by other charitable organizations. The Children Center has been handed to the local population represented by the Jesuits.
Dr. Peter has also handed his personal property in Tangalle in the South to the Salesian Congregation Don Bosco for the training of local youth in Hotel Industry and Tourism. Several other projects initiated by PBF are currently run and managed by the locals and this is really commendable. Beside the above stated projects, at the early stages of housing Peter also has built houses in Colombo district Athurugiriya. Furthermore he has helped to build Dr. Anthony Fernando’s English Academy at Kadawatha and Fr. Kenneth’s children’s home at Mawathagama. Thelist couldbecontinuedwith manyimpressiveexamplesindifferent regionsinSri Lanka. It might beextremely interesting to capture inadetailed description Peter’s CeylonSafari since 1964 with theirvery different encounters, projects, efforts.
Education and Medical Assistance for individuals
PBF has assisted several students from poor families in Sri Lanka to pursue their education in various schools, colleges and universities both in Sri Lanka and abroad. This has given these young men and women the opportunity to realize their true potential in their country. Education is very expensive in most third world countries especially to the poor. This has continued to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. Educational assistance is very important to most students whose parents can hardly provide their families with the basic needs. PBF has contributed favorably to students who would never have any opportunity to study. Though accurate statistics are not available they were from different parts of the island, such as Galle, Chilaw, Pannala, Kuliyapitiya.
The activities of PBF in Sri Lanka are outstanding and a true testament of positive change in a society. This has been achieved mainly by the personal and humane approach by Dr. Bachmann in his interaction with Sri Lankan locals who have supported and walked with him this far. As a Foundation, PBF laid the foundation and the seeds of its activities continue to grow. It would be fair to point out the sacrifice and contribution of Fr. Tissera who started the house building with Peter and who continues to build houses for more people. Mr. Nicholas Nanayakkara helped the Foundation in coordinating its activities, besides selflessly managing the Children Center for fourteen long years, before facilitating the handing over to the Jesuit Fathers.
There are also many highly committed individuals who helped Dr. Peter as supervisors in building houses, toilets, schools, kindergarden; such as Terrence, Rukman, Ruwan, Henry, Jude, Benedict, Charles, Sarfan Mohammed, Aloy Prematilleke – Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims.