We are pleased to inform that AssistRR arranged 579 free cataract surgeries in 2019, under very difficult circumstances. Majority of the patients were from Mannar and Mullaithivu and were taken to hospitals near Colombo for the surgeries. Breakdown of the surgeries is given in this link: Breakdown of Cataract Surgeries. AssitRR would like to express its gratitude to Creador Foundation from Malaysia, Canada Scarborough Sai Group, Optical Seva (UK London Sai Group), and An anonymous donor from UK for their generous financial support towards these surgeries. Special thanks to Ramakrishna Mission (Colombo) for lending their facility for patients to perform their morning ablutions, and to Mr Kumutharanjan Arulkumaran, who has been taking these patients to Colombo for surgeries and taking care of them. A surgery is currently costing around £45-£50 due to various reasons, which are beyond our control. We should point out that this is the cheapest cost of a surgery at present. If anyone/any organisation interested in funding surgeries, please kindly contact us. There is still a huge backlog and we can certainly help the poor, elderly and vulnerable patients to regain their eyesight.
Photos are given in the links below:
Suwanetha Eye Hospital – Mannar Patients – 13/07/19: https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipPQxncPGDlip4yaAduj9bZTz3jBkt3Gzy_x4G
Kadawatha Lions Hospital – Mullaithivu Patients – 18/08/19: https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipNeRQO6u_vR3t4re8ekk-A_4rT7O0XGFVu4YyaD
Suwanetha Eye Hospital – Mullaithivu Patients – 07/09/19: https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipPdxJeaPSYmGJjNndjDisCeD4fjsTDDZptDmU_z
Suwanetha Eye Hospital – Mannar Patients – 21/09/19: https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipM35OLyr78ascudP0B-iDfY9CFmHuPG44pULh2Y
Suwanetha Eye Hospital – Pathaviya Patients – 12/10/19: https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipN3JFsCSSHdjHpsz9RDzDE7ZudiRL1BaRuPImz2
Vavuniya DGH – Mullaithivu Patients – 26/10/19: https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipPfCZziJhNcNuikK00JEGe3_G5y2L9YtVDT0AKU
AssistRR, with the support of like minded organisations (IMHO USA, Tamil Forum Malaysia and CHRF UK) have been donating fishing equipment to families who were displaced from their coastal villages due to the war and were living without carrying out their livelihood. Many of them have been working as labourers for very little and have been struggling to look after their families. As the capital investment to buy a boat, engine and nets is around Rs 600,000.00 per one set, these families have been unable to afford to invest in the fishing equipment. AssistRR carried out a pilot study in Sampoor, Trincomalee, by providing 10 sets of equipment (one set = 1 boat, 1 engine and 10 nets) to 50 families to be shared between them. Data gathered later showed that these families were earning very well and one family had already bought a boat of their own. AssistRR therefore wanted to expand this to other areas and partnered with IMHO USA to raise funds to donate more boats. Solihull Junior School Head Master, Mr Mark Penney and Mrs Donna Penney voluntarily came forward to walk 55kM to raise funds for this cause and walked in the UK on 25 Aug 2018. Following their walk, they raised nearly £50,000.00 in the UK and USA. Using this sum and funds raised at AssistRR dinners, AssistRR have now donated 28 sets of boats, engines and nets, in addition to the 17 sets donated (by IMHO USA – 10, TFM – 5, & CHRF UK – 2) earlier in Trincomalee district. In total 45 sets have already been given and are being shared by 225 families. The families are earning around Rs 3000-4000 per day and are very grateful to Diaspora Tamils and other nationals who have contributed. AssistRR also would like to thank all those who were involved in this project and enabled families to stand on their own feet. In particular, we would like to express our gratitude to Mr & Mrs Penneys for their hard walk and for raising the enormous sum of £50,000.00 towards this project. We are indebted to them for their tireless services to the victims of war in Sri Lanka. 14 sets were handed over to the beneficiaries by Mr & Mrs Penneys during their visit to Sri Lanka in Oct 2019.
Our charity’s annual accounts to 30 Nov 2018 has been submitted and is published on our website: Annual Accounts 2017-18. We apologise for the delay in submitting the account and sharing it with you. We are very happy to inform you that an anonymous retired medical practitioner from the UK donated £71,250.00 during this period for building hostels for boys and girls in Mallawi (Mullaitivu district). There are around 79 girls and 30 boys, who are learning at Mallawi Central college by staying in these hotels. Mallawi Central College serves many remote villages in the middle of jungles between A9 and Mannar in Mullaitivu District. Commuting from these villages to their secondary school in Mallawi is an arduous part of their schooling days. The contribution from the anonymous doctor is making a difference to nearly 100 children from this part of the world. He is still continuing to contribute towards the maintenance and expansion of these facilities. AssistRR on behalf of the local communities wish to express its gratitude to the Doctor for his generous and kind assistance. I will write more about this after the ceremonial opening of the boys hostel soon. Please note that his contributions also attracted 25% gift aid (£17,812.50) from the UK government (in addition to his donations). We also spent nearly £30k on providing fishing equipment (boats, engines and nets) during this period to families, who have been resettling in their coastal villages. These families have been making a success of this livelihood support. Please note that Solihull Junior School Head master Mr Mark Penney and his wife Mrs Donna Penney made a significant contribution (nearly £50k) by walking 55 km in the UK.
Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan, a cardiologist from the UK, has been conducting regular free cardiology clinics with Assist RR in Mannar, Killinochchi and Mullaititvu over the past 2 years. Assist RR has bought and donated several cardiology medical equipment with the help of crowd-sourced funds of over £65,000. One such equipment is the echocardiogram machine donated to Kilinochchi hospital in July 2018 through the generous donation of £27,500 by Mr Vinoth Varatharajan, who is a good friend of Dr Mayooran. This echocardiogram machine has helped Dr Mayooran and colleagues conduct clinics in Mannar, Killinochchi and Mullaititvu since then. Mr Vinoth Varatharajan had also told Dr Mayooran that if a patient scanned with this machine requires life-saving surgery, he would fund it. One such patient is Mr Anthony from Mannar. He is a middle aged man with a young family of 2 children and wife and earns his living by doing painting, decorating and metal welding. He had lost one of his legs during the civil war. Assist RR was so impressed by his steely determination to be self-sufficient and independent, that it supplied him with a welding mechanical equipment in 2017 to help him make an income. Dr Mayooran has also been seeing him regularly in the cardiology clinic as he has a condition called ‘Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy’. In other words, he was born with this condition which has resulted in his heart muscles being thicker than normal and renders him at risk of sudden collapse or death due to dangerous heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) or lack of blood circulation from the heart.
Recently, Mr Anthony had reported to Dr Mayooran that he had a collapse and that he was seen by cardiologists in Jaffna and in Colombo and that he was recommended to have a surgery for implantation of ‘internal cardiac defibrillator’ or ICD. This is a pacemaker box like device and is placed in the heart. It will monitor the patient’s heart rhythm at all times and will administer an electrical shock internally to terminate any fatal heart arrhythmias and save the patient’s life. He was told to either purchase this privately for 900,000 Sri Lankan rupees (approx £4300) or wait for funds to come from the Ministry of Health. He had waited for over 6 months and unfortunately the Governmental support did not materialise. Alarmingly, he developed another collapse and was hospitalised in Mannar in the middle of June this year. His wife called Dr Mayooran asking for urgent help. Immediately, having remembered Mr Vinoth’s promise to help in such cases, Dr Mayooran called Mr Vinoth, who without any hesitation released £4300. Dr Mayooran made contacts with the local cardiologist (Dr Bhanu) and the private supplier of the ICD and Mr Anthony was promptly transferred to the National Hospital in Colombo where he underwent his life-saving surgery within 5 days of the SOS call from his wife. He has since returned to his home in Mannar and has sent a heart-rendering message of gratitude. Assist RR is very happy to have organised this life-saving surgery and would like thank Mr Vinoth Varatharajan for once again contributing so generously. It is people like him we need. Please spread the good news and together we can do so much for so many needy people back in our motherland!
When AssistRR visited Sri Lanka in March 2019, Dr Namasivayam (Sivanarulillam) asked AssistRR to visit a couple of villages in Batticaloa District to assess their needs. As a result, we visited Elichchi & Singarathoppu villages near Vantharumoolai on Sunday, 17th March. There are 65 families including women and children living in Elichchi village without a single toilet, proper shelters and without access to good quality water for their daily needs. A few photos showing their toilet, pre-school and a well are given below. First photo given below is their typical toilet covered by coconut leaf tiles (or kiduku in Tamil). They dig a hole, use it for passing motion in the morning, and then close it. It is their permanent place, move from one spot to anther within that small space. Very hard to imagine how they manage their day-to-day morning rituals in this day and age. Second photo is their dilapidated preschool building. Third photo is their typical well. A metal drum is inserted into the ground to stabilise the well. Water is stained with metal corrosion. They use this water for cleaning, bathing, and farming. They walk a long distance to fetch drinking water as the water from these wells is contaminated with metal corrosion. Please click here to view more photos of their living conditions.
We shared the story with like minded organisations. Mrs Shanthanadevi Kaneshanathan of Children Hunger Relief Fund (CHRF) from UK immediately responded and promised to fund wells for the 65 families in Elichchi Village. We received quotations of Rs 50k – 70K from local contractors for one well. However, our Sri Lankan NGO President, Eng Henry Amalraj, came up with a design and plan to construct one well for Rs 35k. Construction of these wells are progressing very well with the support of CHRF. We are grateful to CHRF for coming forward and for solving their water problem permanently. In particular, we express our gratitude to Mr Krishanthan Jogeeswaran UK, whose donation of £5000 to CHRF was utilised towards this project. This donation of £5000 enabled the construction of 31 wells. We received a photo recently after the completion of a well. The house owner immediately after the completion started having a shower with his clothes on (track bottom and shirt). It shows how eager they have been to have a well in their lands. Following our visit, Henry Amalraj also held talks with the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) regarding houses and toilets for these families. NHDA have now started building houses and toilets using government funds. More photos for the progress made so far are given here. These photos show progress of house building in the village and construction of concrete rings for ring wells. Assist RR will renovate/rebuild the pre-school soon.