Mission Projects at St. Andrew's Scots Kirk

Netherlee Cottage

The Netherlee Cottage Project was started in 2005 with a donation from Netherlee Parish Church in Glasgow to celebrate their 75th Anniversary. It is a family house located in a suburb of Colombo owned by St Andrew’s Scots Kirk, Colombo, a congregation of the Church of Scotland. The residents are 6 ladies who were patients in a mental health hospital. The ladies are now living and working in the community and a joy to be with.

Netherlee Cottage is a development centre to reintroduce patients from Muleriyawa Mental Hospital back into society. This is a unique facility in Sri Lanka. Many of these patients have been in the Hospital for over 20 years , it has been their home and their families do not wish to know them. They are not familiar with making choices of what they eat or wear, two items amongst many everyday decisions we all make without any thought.

The residents are encouraged to follow any particular interests they may have to develop their individuality and any faiths which they wish to pursue. Some of the residents enjoy a monthly visit to the local Buddhist Temple where they meet with their friends. Development of the right to choose is paramount and always respected.
The Cottage is managed on a daily basis by our two House Mothers. They follow a rota system of work. Whilst on shift they live with the residents at the Cottage and are on duty 24 hours per day.

Support Netherlee Cottage

Bank: Nations Development Bank
Account name: St. Andrew’s Church
Current account no: 101000130258
Swift Code: NDBSLKLX

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Ward 8

Church members from St Andrew’s have visited and supported the patients in Ladies Ward 8 (previously ward 19) at Mulleriyawa Mental Hospital on a monthly basis for over 30 years. The visits began at the time of Minister Julian MacKnight and despite some years of less activity, the relationship continues today. Recent years have seen the renovation of the beds and the bathrooms, supply of new mattresses and a television and painting the ward. Each month, essential toiletries and other necessities, together with a special lunch and snacks are provided.

As well as providing music, song, dance and refreshments every month, St Andrew’s has engaged in a programme of refurbishment of the ward which has included new TV, clock, lights and fans, doors and windows, showers and wash facilities, internal and external painting and retiling of floors.

St Andrew’s has also arranged outings for the 40 patients as well as Christmas and New Year parties. The funding for this project comes from sales at our weekly Thrift shop.

Support Ward 8

Bank: Nations Development Bank
Account name: St. Andrew’s Church
Current account no: 101000130247
Swift Code: NDBSLKLX

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Lunch Project

There has been discussion to bring our mission projects closer to home and to try to serve the community in the vicinity of SASK as there are several areas of urban poverty in the locality. The Thursday Lunch Project was inspired by the Soup Bowl programme which functions from Kollupitiya Methodist Church is in its 5th year of operations and serves every Friday. We then decided that a programme on Thursday would be appropriate and so set about walkabouts in the community in the areas of Slave Island and other areas of proximity where there are catchments of disadvantaged people. We found people who sweep and clean the roads and sleep rough, people who wait for handouts in the vicinity of the catholic churches, those who are labourers and many who work as cleaners at local offices. We commenced the programme in November 2018 and are pleased to report that the programme has been a tremendous success. We see many regulars who attend to receive a nutritious meal served within the haven of our church and engage in chat. We have also had a wonderful response from donors, many who have pledged to contribute regularly but we readily welcome new donors in view of rising costs to the programme.

Support Lunch Project

Bank: Nations Development Bank
Account name: St. Andrew’s Church
Current account no: 101000786967
Swift Code: NDBSLKLX

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Helping Hands

A desire to help people struggling to make ends meet and the constant requests for help at the Manse door, led Rev John Purves and Elder Alex Wolvers to develop a more methodical approach of dealing with the situation and the “Helping Hands” project was born in 2006.

When the project was presented to the congregation and, recognising the need and compassion involved in setting up the project, a donor came forward to support and sustain it.  An initial fund was set up and a budget agreed by the Kirk Session.  Their choice for a co-ordinator was Maureen Gennard, a Sri Lankan fluent in Sinhala, Tamil and English, who willingly accepted the challenge and has organised and developed this St Andrew’s project from 2006 until she left to join her husband in the UK in 2019.  Maureen had started attending St Andrew’s in 2001, after meeting her future husband and they were married in the Church in 2004. 

The project has grown steadily over the years and frequently has new people coming to ask for help, based on the recommendation of others.  Each new applicant is visited at home by Maureen to verify their story.  Money is needed for families, the elderly, infirm, chronically ill, widows and single mothers.  Monthly cash grants are made to enable individuals and families to pay for food, medication, accommodation and schooling.  Maureen is passionate about the people being helped by the Church project and will always ‘go the extra mile’ for them, visiting people in hospital, attending funerals and keeping an eye on bereaved families.

A Christmas party is held for the Helping Hands families at the Church Hall, everyone enjoyed a selection of food and drink and a variety of games.  Musical chairs caused great hilarity and the competition for the ‘best dressed human Christmas tree’ revealed a lot of creativity amongst the Helping Hands families. After much hilarity lunch is served by the Church Elders and Helping Hands Project leaders to the Helping Hands families and there is always enough for a little take-away too.

 Three years ago, when our funds were very low, we had to phase out a number of families receiving the monthly allowance; however, after several appeals, our congregation responded very generously and we do now have several regular donors who continue to support the project_ We are very grateful to them and Livingston Church in Scotland for their support. St Andrew’s Annual Bazaar, also generates funds for this Project. 
We are always sensitive to any local people in the community looking for help. Many of the Helping Hands families are single mothers and elderly sick people  who find life a struggle. We especially strive to help those who live in the vicinity of the Church, however, we don`t refuse anyone whom we feel is in need of assistance. 

As well as distributing a stipend on a monthly basis to needy families, we also attend to other matters that often these families are faced with. Here are two recent stories that show what an act of kindness can do. 

Maureen and Rev. Ian approved a gift of Rs 8,000 to Pathmalatha Gamage to obtain the keys for a government flat. We were present when the keys to her new home were received. Their joy cannot be put into words. God had touched the heart of a government official who granted this flat to the family. To receive the keys of the flat, the family had to pay Rs8,000/- which they did not have. They thank Saint Andrew’s mission project for assisting them. 

Pushpawathi asked if we could support her and her family with dry rations because they are lacking food. The heavy rains have flooded their one room rented house and forced them to move into a relative’s who does not have the funds to feed them. During the next three months, we will provide dry rations. Pushpawathi is almost blind and until two months ago she was assisted by her son but, he had to have his leg amputated because of Diabetes. We hope in the future to provide a prosthetic leg to this young man who will then continue assisting his mother. Her husband has Tuberculosis.

Our role in this mission project is to give love, companionship, attention and financial assistance to those who don’t have. This is possible, because you, the congregation respond to their needs; we also shall never forget our friends abroad such as the Livingston Church in Scotland who always remember the Helping Hands project at Scots Kirk, Colombo with their generous contributions.

Joubert Gnanamuttu has taken over from Maureen Gennard as co-ordinator for the Helping Hands programme as Maureen left for the UK in October 2019 to join her husband.

Joubert is enjoying his new role as it keeps him occupied during his retirement and he sees it as a privilege to be working with the community who are less fortunate. He thanks God to have the opportunity to do this.

Joubert spends time visiting the Helping Hands families in their homes to see the challenging conditions in which they are living so that he can better assess the needs of the families.

We do not have unlimited funds at the Church but he hopes to find the means to help the families with more dry rations and to help attend to their health situations and subsidise their medical bills. He would like to organise help for them to travel to the hospital because they are not strong enough to take public transport and the cost of a tuk tuk is too high. Many of the families are struggling to manage their own situation but they are also burdened with help and care for their parents and elder relations.  

There is much work to do.

The Helping Hands Team

Support Helping Hands

Bank: Nations Development Bank
Account name: St. Andrew’s Church
Current account no: 101000130231
Swift Code: NDBSLKLX

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Thrift Shop

St. Andrew's Scots Kirk​ Thrift Shop

The Thrift Shop is open every Tuesday (except for Poya days and other public holidays) in the Church Hall from 11.00 am to 2.00 pm. There is always a plentiful supply of the following:

  • Clothes (used)
  • Household items (used)
  • Cameras
  • Books
  • DVDs
  • Audio Cassettes
  • Historical Paintings
  • Sports Items
  • Handbags
  • Sunglasses
  • Lamp Shades
  • Costume Jewellery

Almost anything that might prove useful to someone somewhere can be handed over to the Thrift Shop. You may visit the shop on a Tuesday between 11.00 am and 2.00 pm to hand in your donation.

The Thrift Shop came into being in the early 2000s. It was started by Mrs Pamela Kenny, a member of the congregation. At that time, St. Andrew’s was seeking to raise funds to support its work with the patients of ladies Ward 19 (now Ward 8) at Mulleriyawa Mental Hospital. As the wife of a foreign diplomat, she recognized that many people have unwanted goods when they leave the country. She saw that these could be recycled and that the proceeds from their sale used for the benefit of others. The Thrift Shop has been there ever since and continues to support the work at Mulleriyawa where, recently, we have just completed extensive plumbing, electrical and joinery repairs to the ward in preparation for repainting.

Three things are needed to ensure the success of this ongoing venture. The first is goods. We accept almost anything, as long as it can pass through the doors of the church hall! We invite everyone to be our customers. We believe we have something for everyone and at a price that all can afford. Finally, we invite anyone who has an interest in giving of their time to be a volunteer. There is always something that needs to be done – sorting and pricing goods, assisting customers, receiving funds, clearing out.

Support Thrift Shop

Bank: Nations Development Bank
Account name: St. Andrew’s Church
Current account no: 101000130247
Swift Code: NDBSLKLX

More information

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