The Eliya Association

Ann and Gabor Kato are two retired Swiss-Canadian neuroscientists who have undertaken to help girls’ education and womens’ well-being in Sri Lanka during the past 10 years.

They have created an association with the purpose of improving the living conditions, health and education of girls in Sri Lanka.

During the past ten years, Ann & Gabor have assisted in rebuilding a school in Weligama located on the south coast of the island, helped destitute girls get access to quality education and sponsored three girls for a university education (

They have recently extended their philanthropic efforts in Sri Lanka to help marginalized women, working in tea plantations in the Nuwara Eliya area. These women suffer from poverty and ill health. In order to accomplish these goals, they have created a Geneva-based association that is governed by Swiss regulations (Eliya Association). Women tea workers will be trained to grow alternate products such as lavender, vegetables, strawberries and herbs to replace tea and sell them to local markets in Sri Lanka. These products will be grown under organic agricultural conditions.


Eliya is driven by these core values:

  • Accountability : we are committed to managing the project responsibly, with diligence, discipline and focused on positive impact for the women Eliya supports.
  • Trust : the project works by building trustful relationships with the women and staff involved.
  • Positive attitude : we believe each person can make a difference. And joy and fulfillment come from taking part.
  • Confidence : our hope is to see these women build their self-esteem and confidence, feel empowered and break free from abuse.


We are driven above all by a fundamental belief in the potential that derives from women who are given a sense of empowerment. Strong, independent and confident women will thrive and build strong future generations.


We aim to improve the quality of life, health, livelihood and self-confidence of marginalized women in the Nuwara Eliya area of Sri Lanka. To achieve this, our vision is:

  • To promote entrepreneurship for local women through training and mentoring.
  • To promote gender equality by engaging women as key players.
  • To contribute to a secure and sustainable income for poor tea workers through training.
  • To establish long-term organic farming so that soil, water and the atmosphere are not adversely affected.

In the long term: To use this as a model project that can be replicated throughout the tea plantations in Sri Lanka.


  • To provide sustainable livelihood for poor, under nourished women and their children in Sri Lanka by teaching them organic agricultural techniques.
  • To grow crops, plants and vegetables that are more profitable as compared to growing tea.
  • To allow women to spend more time with their children and provide a healthy diet thanks to improved income levels.


  1. Helping tsunami victims
  2. Girls’ education projects :
  3. Creating Eliya Association



Ann C. Kato, PhD

Ann took her PhD from McGill University, Montreal in the field of neuroscience and did her post-doctoral training at the College de France, Paris. She is a retired Professor in the Department of Neuroscience of the University of Geneva. For the past 12 years, she and her husband have been doing philanthropic work in Sri Lanka with the purpose of improving the living conditions, health and education of impoverished girls and currently to help marginalized women tea workers in Sri Lanka.

Gabor Kato, PhD

Gabor took his PhD from McGill University, Montreal in the field of neuroscience. He was professor of pharmacology in the Medical Faculty of McGill and visiting professor at the Pasteur Institute, Paris. He was founder and CEO of Neurotech SA, a Swiss biotechnology company developing drugs for psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.


Lawrence Goldberg

Lawrence has been an organic farmer from the late 1970s and has been practicing sustainable farming methods in California from the early 1980s and at present in Sri Lanka in addition to being a coffee producer. He is the founder and director of Hansa Ceylon Coffee (pvt) Ltd, a speciality coffee company in Sri Lanka. He has innovated his own one-month method of composting and runs Sunrise Farms in Nuwara Eliya. He is now producing Sri Lankan organic rough chocolate, made with Sri Lankan cocoa beans.

Ramakrishnan Pushparini

Pushpa lives on a tea estate near Nuwara Eliya and her mother is a tea plucker. She was married at 15 years of age and has two boys, aged 3 and 10. In order to find employment outside the tea estate, she learned English from a dictionary. She then went to see Laurence Goldberg who hired her to work at the Hansa coffee production where she worked for 12 years. She is now the Project Coordinator for the Eliya Association. She speaks Tamil, Sinhalese and English.

We would be pleased to share this project with you !