We at Leopard Safaris are not only interested in the well-being of animals, but also in the welfare of Sri Lanka’s citizens. Thus, we were pleased to support some members of the local communities near Yala National Park with a special project:
In 2016, we provided some families with new metal sheets for their house roofs in order to improve their living conditions. One of them is Sheela and Tudor, two retired farmers who live in a run-down house between Yala Park and Kataragama town.
Both have been living there for the past 15 years after they had sold their farm and decided to make a living from a less strenuous job. Thanks to their knowledge of plants and herbs, they were able to start growing Beli Mal, also known as Golden Apple, and selling Beli Mal tea to passersby. It is a very popular tisane drank in the hot areas of the country as it quenches thirst and reduces body heat, among its properties. Occasionally we stop at the small shop to treat our clients to a cup of Beli Mal drink so that they can enjoy the healthy beverage.
Most of our customers are very interested in helping them and glad to gain insight into parts of the Sri Lankan culture. Sheela and Tudor were happy about receiving the panels on New Year’s Day.
At this point we wish to express our most heartfelt thanks to those of our clients who donated money to this cause.
In 2016 and 17 both, major floods and landslides occurred in Sri Lanka, leaving thousands of people homeless and vast areas of devastation. In both years, Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris organised flood relief and together with many friends helped the affected people.
During the 2017 floods (in the end of May) it was the area surrounding Galle in the south that was hit the most, which is why we concentrated our relief work in this region.
In the first days of the floods, we prepared and delivered food to the victims, sometimes up to 1500 rations a day. In the aftermath of the floods, when the water level dropped again, we delivered emergency packs with basic necessities and dry food for the families living in the flood area. We also identified some families who needed help the most, whom we further assisted and still are today.
One of those particular families has two children, aged 9 and 14 years old. The children have lost their mum during the flood, as she was very sick and they could not managed to rescue her out of their timber house before it collapsed. The children were left living with their grandparents, where they share one house with 9 people. We are helping this family by building a new house for them on a safer site, which is not as close to the river. We furthermore supplied the children with basic necessities and school equipment, so that they were able to attend school again.
We are very grateful for all our friends who supported us financially or with their time or assets to assist us in helping all those people affected from the floods.
Half the sky
At Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris, we regularly make an effort to give back as much as we can to the community. One of our CSR projects in 2015 and 2016 has been contributing to the international organisation Half the Sky which deals with women’s issues.
Some of the matters this organisation addresses are: oppression and violence against women and girls, illegal trafficking and forced prostitution, promoting gender equality, reducing maternal mortality rates, and educating girls in particular.
Half the Sky works with several influential partners including CARE, BRAC, Heifer International, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, Women’s World Banking and World Vision. They receive funding from organisations such as the IKEA foundation, USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, Goldman Sachs Foundation, Nike Foundation, Intel and UN foundation. A number of influential celebrities like Meg Ryan, Eva Mendez and Olivia Wilde also support the organisation.
Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris offered a 2 night all-inclusive stay at our camp in Yala to be auctioned at the 7th Annual Hong Kong Gala which was held on 31 May by Half the Sky. The event was highly successful and US$1 million was raised for orphans in China. We are proud to have been part of this charitable event and feel humbled to have been able to contribute in a small way.
Ape Lamai school
Ape Lamai (which translates to ‘our children’) is a free school and a training center for differently abled children in Sri Lanka. This one hundred percent volunteer based facility for children with special needs is located in a small village called Bothale in Gampaha district. The sole idea of the organization is to solve educational difficulties of the disabled kids and educate the parents on how to best acknowledge their children. Most of the children however are orphans who have been living there for their whole life.
Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris has been supporting this school for several years, both financially and by creating special events for the children.
One of those events was the 2016 Christmas party. We prepared gifts for all the 32 kids as well as sponsored their lunch and some goodies. All of the children received one gift to play with as well as some things for school and basic necessities like bed sheets and toiletries. / common toys. We also offered presents for the teachers who are working on a voluntary basis or receive only a small expense allowance.