Operation Hope had it’s early beginnings in Sri Lanka in the early 1930s when the Dematagoda Christian Guild (DCG) was founded by the late Shelton Schokman Senior on September 8th 1934. The guild was the first interdenominational organisation in the area. The Guild formed a Sunday School that aimed to reach out to children of different denominations. With the help of supporters it also saw to the welfare of the sick, the elderly and the destitute.
In 1950, the Guild founded a Recreation Club to provide sporting and social activities among its younger members and senior citizens. It excelled in badminton and won many a competition organised by what was then the Badminton Association of Ceylon.
In 1972 Shelton (now 81) decided to migrate to Australia to be with his family. However, he wanted to make sure the work of the Guild continued. He handed over the Guild to the Salvation Army in Sri Lanka to be run as a separate entity and set up a Trust Fund to finance its welfare work. In Australia he continued to help the needy in Sri Lanka by setting up another Trust Fund with his family.
On 4th December 1976, Shelton passed the torch onto his son Charles and daughter-in-law Claudette. Together they founded the Australia/Sri Lanka Welfare Guild (ASWG) as an auxiliary of the Dematagoda Christian Guild (DCG). In later years the ASWG parted ways with the DCG with both becoming independent entities.
In July 2005 the administrators of the DCG in Australia visited Sri Lanka to help those who were affected by the 2004 Tsunami. On their return and after seeing the tremendous support received from people in both Sri Lanka and Australia they realised it was necessary to change the DCG name to reflect their growing work. And so, on the 8th of October 2005, Operation Hope Inc was officially incorporated and registered.
In 2010 two board members visited Swaziland to see for themselves the devastation brought about by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A proposal was formed to start work there whilst continuing the work in Sri Lanka. In 2011 Operation Hope began its work in a larger capacity. In 2012 Operation Hope Swaziland was officially registered. Operation Hope Swaziland is Operation Hope Inc’s in-country partner, operating with it’s own Swazi team.
Back in Sri Lanka, 2013 saw the start of a working relationship with LEADS as our in-country partner. This process is still in its formative stages and is looking promising.
The Operation Hope Australia board now has 7 members and a great volunteer team who assist with fundraising, administration and awareness raising. Operation Hope continues to grow in its development work, raising awareness and advocating on behalf of the people they serve.
Though our name has gone through various changes our purpose has remained the same – to help those in need… because every person matters.