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Abbotford Resident Changes Life in Sri Lankan Village

Abbotsford resident Nipuna Weerapperuma has visited family in Sri Lanka every few years since his birth.

Yet a chance side trip during one of his visits led to a service project that is helping an entire Sir Lankan village. 

“During one of my last visits, I noticed two young girls carrying pots on their heads walking down the road. When I asked them why, they told me they were collecting water from a well and they had to travel more than three kilometers.”

Once back home to Westchase, Nipuna decided to do something to help. He began researching ways the village could access clean water. A senior in Middleton High School’s STEM program, Nipuna has been interested in water extraction and engineering problems for several years. Through his research he discovered that a tube well could provide clean water.

Nipuna chose the school in the village as the site of the well. “The school has about 60 students and 10 to 15 teachers. They had a problem retaining teachers because many were leaving because not only did they not have easy access to drinking water, but they also did not have toilets or other basic sanitation needs.”

Nipuna used an online platform called CrowdRise to ask friends and family to fund the project and within months raised enough to build the well.

He visited the village for the well’s opening ceremony, complete with a parade and speeches. “When we went back to the school after the well was complete. They were so grateful. They children all thanked me. It was very humbling. It made me realize how big of an impact a person can make.”

Nipuna participated in the Mayor’s Youth Corps in Tampa but this was the first time he had undertaken a service project of this magnitude. While he’ll be headed off to college next year, he wants to continue to help others and the Sri Lankan school. “When I was there for the well ceremony, I noticed an issue with their music program. They do not have enough instruments. I talked to the principal about collecting instruments and right now we’re in the planning stages.”

By Marcy Sanford

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