Nursery school for 4-8 years
The first contact with Sri Lanka started by a trip to Sri Lanka from the Catholic priest dr.Harry Professor van der Looy who worked as a professor at the Theological Faculty of Rolduc and in 1993 became pastor in Mechelen. He studied religious studies, specializing in Buddhism and in 1986 went to Sri Lanka to learn more about Buddhism. Here he met the monk Banagala Gunarathana Thero at his temple in Baddegama. This left Fr. van der Looy proudly showing his temple and then invited him for a cup of tea with banana in the monastery there. Gunarathana told that he studied at the University of Colombo Peradiniya Buddhism specializing Catholicism. A true cross-fertilization and so we talked about the needs of the less fortunate and very poor South. They were so excited that they put together a foundation and NGO founding, the van der Looy foundation. Of the invested by them "capital" they built a wooden hut and started with four students and two teachers a school. Now, after nearly three decades, it is a beautiful school with beautiful brick colorful classrooms. It should be 364 students of indigenous breeds (Sinhala and Tamil), but also of all faiths, Buddhist, Hinduism, Catholic and Muslim taught by 25 teachers. Both the students and the teachers all wear the same uniforms and saris. Once a day, classes last from 8 am to 14 pm, they are offered a hot meal. The current school year coincides with our year and early December is the so-called Price Giving Day. On this festive day with lots of dance and performances are in the presence of many dignitaries the diplomas obtained in the past school awarded. The rest of the month is the big vacation.
Professor dr.Harry van der Looy died in 2010, unfortunately, much too early! In Baddegama he is still honored every year with a special commemorative and thanksgiving day. In Peradiniya school still hang several pictures of him. It was a man with a big heart and a special friend of Gunarathana, but also for the many Sri Lankans, which he supported.