For over forty years, Netherlee Church has enjoyed a partnership with St Andrew’s Scots Kirk in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which contunes to this day, with our strong links and friendship with th ecurrent St Andrew's minister Rev. John Purves, and his wife Patricia. John has recently been awarded the MBE for his services to Sri Lanka, and Patricia, in addition to supporting John in all his work, is a lawyer carrying out consultancy work in human rights on behalf of UNICEF.
For many years, Netherlee has given financial assistance to St Andrew’s Scout Group in Colombo, and other projects there, and our congregation has made a major contribution to the establishment and continuing operation of a halfway house. This house is called ‘Netherlee Cottage’, and it allows patients from Mulleriyawa, a local mental hospital, to be rehabilitated into society. However, in Ward 19, where the ladies from Netherlee Cottage originally came from, up to 90 women still live in a ward with 40 beds. At least their washing facilities have recently been improved, thanks to a donation from Netherlee Church.
Our minister, Tom Nelson, and his wife Catherine, recently visited Sri Lanka, to take our greetings to St. Andrew's. On his return, Tom showed us in words and pictures, that, alongside the beautiful beaches and luxury hotels, there was also great poverty and squalor in Colombo. He also told how wonderful work was being done there, by St Andrew’s and, through our donations and support, by the people of Netherlee Church. Homes and businesses destroyed by the Boxing Day tsunami have been rebuilt, and, while he was there, Tom was privileged to open a coir rope factory, built with money that we sent.
Tom praised St Andrew’s minister John, his wife Patricia and the whole multi-national congregation for the magnificent work they were doing, describing the church as a beautiful beacon of light in this rushing, bustling city. While in Sri Lanka, Tom was delighted to preach at St Andrew’s centenary service, and to make a presentation of gifts from Netherlee – including a pewter quaich which will now be used as St Andrew’s baptismal bowl.
Long may our friendship flourish.