Poor elderly and vulnerable people in Sri Lanka with poor eyesight lead their lives without spectacles due to their inability to buy. They struggle to manage their day-to-day activities including reading without spectacles. Assist RR have been collecting spectacles in the UK and donating them to hospitals in Sri Lanka. These spectacles are then given to underprivileged people by the eye doctors. Solihull Junior School Head Master, Mark Penney’s daughter, Amelia, recently collected more than 1000 frames and reading glasses from Solihull School Community. A parent, who works for an Optician, donated hundreds of frames and reading glasses, which were brand new. Another parent donated a foci-meter, which is used to verify the prescription in a pair of reading glasses. Solihull pupils, Amelia, Francesca, and their friends also collected 255 women’s trainers to be donated to girls in Sri Lanka. Mr Penney, on his way to SCOT’s dinner as the chief guest on 20 Oct 2018, dropped these items in London to be shipped to Sri Lanka.
All these items have now been donated to the needy in Sri Lanka. The foci-meter was donated to Mullaithivu DGH hospital. The frames were donated to Kalmunai, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, and Vavuniya hospitals. These frames are given to patients with poor eyesight, who can’t afford to pay for them. The trainers were donated to schoolgirls in Thunukkai and Kilinochchi. I recently spoke with the eye medical officers of these hospitals. They told me that they have already run out of these frames and reading glasses and requested for more for the benefit of many more poor people. Assist RR’s sincere gratitude to Solihull School community, in particular to Mr Penney and his family, for their continued support.
Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan, a cardiologist from the UK, conducted free cardiology clinics in Mannar and Kilinochchi DG Hospitals for 5 days in March 2019. These clinics were funded from a donation of £2000 promised by UK’s St George’s University’s Diwali Show committee of 2018. Dr Mayooran saw over 150 patients and performed consultations and echocardiograms on all of them. He also performed over 35 exercise ECG treadmill tests in these two hospitals. This meant that many patients received a new diagnosis, treatment and referrals to specialist centres for ongoing treatment. It is worth noting that due to the absence of a permanent consultant cardiologist in the Vanni districts these patients face a long waiting time to see a specialist from Jaffna. In order to help alleviate some of these issues, Assist RR have been doing free cardiology clinics in Vanni since June 2017 using volunteer cardiologists from the UK. We have also donated several cardiology diagnostic equipment to hospitals in Vanni during this period. We are indebted to our well wishers and donors who make this possible. Please help us continue this with your contributions on http://assistrr.org/?page_id=1520
We would like to provide an update on the efforts of Assist RR (Sri Lanka & UK) to assist the flood victims of the North. AssistRR (UK) donated 500 mosquito nets through AssistRR (Sri Lanka). Children’s Hunger Relief Fund (CHRF UK) donated bedsheets and towels to 366 families. Tears of Vanni (Australia) is also sending funds to AssistRR (Sri Lanka) to donate 500 bedsheets. These relief efforts are being managed and coordinated by Treasurer of AssistRR (Sri Lanka) and Mullaithivu Deputy Director of Irrigation, Mr N Sriskandarajah on the ground. We have been informed that the immediate needs of the victims have almost been taken care of by various organisations including government departments. However, we have been requested to provide stationeries (such as school bags, exercise books, pens, pencils, compass boxes, etc) to school children. Based on our Ratnapura experience, it will cost around Rs 1000 per student. If any of you want to support, please kindly do so. You can use our general mydonate funding page to donate:
Three Diaspora Tamils (from Malaysia, Canada and the UK) recently provided funds to assist three families in the North to enhance their livelihoods and to stand on their own feet. Each of the two families from Puthukudiyiruppu were given two cows and a calf and the third family from Vavuniya was given funds to build a small shop to be used as a tailoring and stationery shop. Two of these families were rehabilitated and have been trying to re-establish their lives.
Assist RR in partnership with IMHO USA and Ministry of Resettlement, Sri Lanka, are now donating fishing equipment (1 set of equipment – boat, engine and 10 nets) to IDP families in the north and east. Assist RR and IMHO are funding Rs 280,000 as grant for a set of equipment (50% of the cost of Rs 560,000 for one set). Ministry of Resettlement is providing soft loans for the other 50% payable in 5 years. One set of equipment is shared by 5 families. A pilot study was carried out in Sampoor and Paadalipuram in Muthur by donating 17 boats shared by 85 families. These families are earning around Rs 4000 per day per family. As part of this boats project, we have now donated 5 sets (boats, engines and nets) in Vakarai, Batticaloa on 7th Dec at a ceremony attended by Batticaloa GA Mr M Uthayakumar, Vakarai DS Mr S Garan, and Assist RR (SL) president Eng Henry Amalraj, and Mr Pugendran from the Ministry of Resettlement. Another 6 sets (boats, engines and nets) were donated in Panadatharippu, Jaffna on 14th Dec. Jaffna GA Mr N Vethanayagan, president of Assist RR (SL) Eng Henry Amalraj, and Mr Annalingam & Mr Pugendran from Ministry of Resettlement attended the handing over ceremony in Jaffna.
Solihull School Head Master and teacher, Mr Mark and Mrs Donna Penneys, raised around £50k in the UK and USA by walking the 55KM South Coast Challenge – Eastborne to Hove on 25 Aug 2018. The funds raised by Mark and Donna is enabling donation of 40 sets of fishing equipment that will assist 200 families to stand on their own feet and to lead comfortable lives in the future. Mark’s extended family back in Ireland donated funds to donate one boat, which is named after his coastal town called Roberts Cove (Ireland) to honour his great contribution. Assist RR, at its Croydon dinner in May 2018, have raised funds to donate another 10 sets. We are aiming to donate as many boats as possible by raising more funds amongst Diaspora Tamils. Loans are available for hundreds of boats. It depends on how much funds we can raise so that the ministry will match it. Based on our experience, this is the most successful livelihood support we ever provided. By providing a grant of Rs 56,000 to a family, we are assisting them to earn around Rs 4000 per day. We can assist many more families with your support. Please remember, with your support, we built 320 shelters in Sampoor. I am sure we can do the same with this project as well.
Assist RR were funding cataract surgeries in Sri Lanka with the financial support of many like minded organisations and individuals. Until the end of 2016, Assist RR enabled more than 2500 surgeries. However, we hadn’t been able to fund any surgeries for the past two and a half years. Dr Champa Banagala, a retired eye surgeon, recently agreed to assist patients from the North and worked tirelessly to conduct a camp in Vavuniya and, in spite of all the challenges, she succeeded in organising a cataract surgery camp in Vavuniya on 1st & 2nd Dec 2018. Four surgeons participated and contributed to the success of this camp, in which 134 surgeries were performed to restore eyesight. The surgeons, who volunteered, were Dr Rasangani Premathillake, Dr Yasodha Ramesh, Dr Prem Anand, Dr Mahesh and Dr Chamara Kumarage. Doctors told us that there were nearly 30% of the patients, who were blind (lost eyesight in both eyes) as a result of cataract. A few patients, who underwent surgeries in our last camp in Vavuniya in June 2016, underwent surgeries this time in their second eyes. These poor and vulnerable patients were made to wait for nearly two and a half years to restore eyesight in their second eyes. An elderly man after his surgery started crying and thanked profusely for enabling him to regain his eyesight. There were many more moving stories! Almost 90% of the patients appear to be very poor and some of them couldn’t walk unaided due to blindness. They have been waiting for this free service for nearly 2 to 3 years because they are poor. Otherwise, they would have undergone surgeries privately. There are many generous like-minded organisations and individuals, who are prepared to support this service. We can assist many more patients to regain their eyesight. This Vavuniya camp was fully funded by Enlightenment Circle, an arm of Saiva Munnetra Sangam, London. We would like to express our gratitude to Enlightenment Circle for their generous support. From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to thank Dr Champa Banagala for organising the camp, and the four surgeons for their selfless services to the needy patients, Ministry of Health for providing free lenses, and many staff of Vavuniya Hospital, who provided all the assistances needed to make the event successful. If any of you would like to support this service to the poor and vulnerable patients, please use the link below to contribute. If the Ministry of Health provides the lenses, it will cost around £20 to fund the consumables needed for a surgery and other expenses. Mydonate Fund Raising Page for Cataract Surgeries
Assist RR conducted three cardiology clinics simultaneously in Mannar, Killinochchi, and Mullaittivu, in Sri Lanka. This was made possible by the generous volunteer service of Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan, Dr Khalda Halim & Dr Andy Morley-Smith, all from UK Harefield Hospital. They performed echocardiogram scans on >250 patients and exercise treadmill ECG tests on 20 patients in 5 days. This ensured early diagnosis and management for patients with heart disease, who otherwise face long waiting times and travel to see a cardiac specialist in the neighbouring districts. Unlike the previous trips, they spent a considerable amount of time during the past week training local doctors and technicians in various aspects of cardiology medical practice. We have conducted 8 cardiology clinics in Sri Lanka and the volunteer doctors have helped over 1000 patients during these 8 clinics. Words of mention and congratulations must also go to Dr Muhammadh Nisath, Dr Thanabalasingam Piragalathan and other junior doctors for their excellent contribution to the clinic in the past week. A special thanks must also go to Mr James who has been providing the volunteer doctors with free accommodation at his excellent hotel in Mannar (Hotel Gateway Inn, Emilnagar, Mannar town). Finally, a BIG THANKS to donors on https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/srilankacardiologyclinic. Your money will be used to run clinics and also donate necessary medical equipments to the needy hospitals as well as support the most needly patients receive healthcare and support their livelihood. Assist RR will continue to run these clinics in the region until a cardiologist is appointed to these hospitals. Please get in touch if you wish to volunteer!
Further to requests from Mullaithivu & Kilinochchi hospitals for essential medical equipment, our friend from Australia, Eng Thirukumaran, raised funds in Australia to purchase 3 Multipara monitors (2 to Mullaithivu & 1 to Kilinochchi) at a cost Rs 600,000. A multipara monitor provides and records a patient’s medical vital signs (body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate and respiratory rate) or measurements of the activity of various body organs such as ECG monitors and anaesthesia monitors. Vital signs determine which treatment protocols to follow, provide critical information needed to make life-saving decisions, and confirm feedback on treatments performed. These monitors were handed over to these hospitals last week. Funds were provided by GODS OWN CHILDREN FOUNDATION, Australasian Chapter, and friends from Australia through Rotary Australia World Community Service. I would like to thank the Australians for their generous support that enabled these donations. Photos are attached.