Fundraising for Cataract Camps in Sri Lanka by Team Solihull

You may recall that back in 2018 Mr Mark Penney and Mrs Donna Penney took on the challenge of a very long walk. With the support of kind-hearted donors, and that of their friends and family, they were able to raise over £53,000 for a livelihood project which provided self-sustaining fishing incomes for close to 100 families in Sri Lanka. We are happy to report that those interventions proved life changing for the wider network of family members who benefited directly from the generosity of their donors. On June 26th 2021, Mark & Donna will set off on another very long walk (53KM) but this time they will be joined by a sizeable group (Team Solihull – 16 of them) all of whom are either staff, pupils or parents of Solihull School – past and present. The community of Solihull School has been a long and very generous supporter of the work Assist RR and IMHO USA do, raising in excess of £100,000 for education, healthcare and livelihood projects in the north and east of Sri Lanka. This time Team Solihull have set their sights on preventing or reversing blindness in over 1000 of Sri Lanka’s poorest people, none of whom will ever have the means of doing so for themselves. As donors, you are also incentivised by the hugely generous prospect of IMHO USA pledge matching all monies raised up to $20,000 and the assurance that 100% of your donations will be directed to the beneficiaries. With the full support of donors, we can offer cataract surgeries for just £30 each. Please consider sponsoring Mark, Donna & Team Solihull. We know we can count on the community of Solihull School to offer their support as the community is familiar with the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Therefore, as Tamil Diaspora, please join the community of Solihull School in making a very real, life changing difference to 1000+ innocent victims of the civil war. Please use the link below to make your contribution:

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An appeal to assist victims of war in Parankiyamadu villgae, Kiran DS division of Batticaloa district

Sri Lankan AssistRR president Eng. Henry Amalraj recently received a request to visit the above village to assess the living conditions in the village. Henry visited it and identified that there were many desperate needs including wells, toilets, shelters, and livelihood support. He approached Children’s Hunger Relief Fund (CHRF), UK, who agreed to fund 35 wells. A project for providing wells, funded by CHRF, is currently underway. Henry also requested AssistRR, UK, to visit the village to assess their needs. AssistRR visited this village on 13/14 Oct 2020 and assessed the needs. There are nearly 150 families, including rehabilitated LTTE former members, living in this village. One family of 3 children, of which the wife was a rehabilitated LTTE member, did not have mats to sleep on the sand floor and was using a piece of string and a piece of saree tied together to fetch water from the well. This family’s need was addressed immediately. The following needs were identified as a result:

  1. 44 families need proper shelters as they are now living in very pathetic condition – Planning to build safe and acceptable shelters @ Rs 300k per shelter.
  2. 45 families have no toilets and have been using the bushes as cover in the outskirts of the village.
  3. There are 43 half-done toilets that need completion.

There are 28 women headed families including a number of young widows. AssistRR are very keen to provide some livelihood support to these women headed families. There are another 122 families, who are capable of fishing. However, due to lack of fishing gear, men are working as fishing labourers in Udappu, near Puttalam. The families are very eager to commence their fishing activities in their own village, so that the men can stay at home and work. This would require assistance to purchase fishing gear as follows: 40 families have canoes and are requesting fishing nets only; 3 families have boats and engines, but need nets to go fishing; Remaining 79 families would require engine boats and nets for fishing locally. We could provide one set of boat, engine and nets to five families. This would equate to needing 16 boats. An anonymous donor family have agreed to fund £25k to purchase 10 sets of boats at a cost of around Rs 600,000.00 per set. We need another £20k to purchase another 6 sets of boats and nets to 43 families mentioned above.

The total cost of this project is around £122k. IMHO USA has agreed to join forces and have already started raising funds. CHRF, UK, is also considering contributing towards building 45 new toilets at a total cost of around £15k. AssistRR and IMHO USA need to raise around £82k to complete this project. In order to raise funds for this project, AssistRR have started a crowdfunding appeal for which we are aiming to raise £50,000. We would love it if you could donate using the link below to access our project page. Any contribution large or small will be hugely appreciated. Thank you. Please donate by pressing here

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Donating Medical Equipment to Mullaitivu DG Hospital

Dr Sivanesan Pirabakaran was recently appointed to Mullaitivu District General Hospital (DGH) as acting consultant Dermatologist. He was trying to establish a permanent fully equipped skin unit in the history of Mullaitivu DGH. Dr Pirabakaran has seen numerous patients with viral warts, Seborrheic keratosis, epidermal nevus, molluscum contagiousum, and various tiny skin tumours in his day-to-day skin clinic at his clinic. He informed Assist RR that the best treatment for these conditions are either cryotherapy or electro cautery. Unfortunately these instruments were not available at Mullaitivu DGH or at Medical supply division of Health Ministry. Dr Pirabakaran was therefore managing the patients by sending them to Kilinochi DGH for treatments. However, patients were suffering as a result of the need to travel to Kilinochchi. Dr Pirabakaran made a request to Assist RR to donate a Brymill liquid nitrogen Cryotherapy set (a gun and a tank) to the skin clinic at Mullaittivu DGH. An anonymous kind hearted donor donated £3000 for purchasing this set of equipment, which was handed over to skin clinic of Mullaitivu DGH on 14 July 2020. Dr Niluxson, Director of Mullai DGH, and Dr Pirabakaran, consultant Dermatologist, received the equipment set from Assist RR.

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Assistance to Daily Wage Earners during Coronavirus Crisis

It is almost a month since the curfew was imposed in Sri Lanka. Although the government had promised financial support to families, who depend on daily wage earners, they are yet to receive any support from the government. It appears that these families may receive a grant of Rs 5000.00 per family shortly. However, we have been told that these families have been borrowing from friends and families for their survival for nearly a month and this grant of Rs 5000 will not last longer after paying back the loans. Following the appeal on 28 March, AssistRR have managed to raise Rs 6,778,816.00 and assisted 6700 families by providing Rs 1000.00 worth of dry rations, that should last for a week for a family of 4/5. We received contributions from like minded organisations and friends as given in this link: Coronavirus relief efforts. In addition to IMHO’s Rs 1,550,000 support (assisted 1500 families), IMHO USA have directly distributed dry rations to another 7820 families in the north and east of Sri Lanka. In total, AssistRR, IMHO, and other likeminded organisations and individuals have supported 14520 families in the north and east of Sri Lanka since the start of this campaign. Please click this link (Coronavirus relief efforts) to see the table for the areas (Divisional Secretariat Divisions) and number of families covered. The beneficiaries have been identified and selected by the respective Divisional Secretaries with the assistance of Grama Sevakas. Distribution of dry rations were also carried out by the Divisional Secretaries. Please note that we haven’t met the 100% need, which was around 120,000 families in the north and east. AssistRR would like to thank all like minded organisations and individuals who supported this appeal and ensured that 14520 families were able to survive for at least a week.

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Assistance to Daily Wageworkers During the Current Crisis

Sri Lanka has been under curfew for the past 10 days due to Coronavirus pandemic. Many families, which depend on daily wageworkers, have been struggling to feed themselves due to their inability to work. Although the government has promised to provide assistance to these families, it hasn’t reached the affected families yet. We have been approached to provide some emergency relief to these families so that they can survive during this crisis. There are nearly 2000 families in Nedunkerni Divisional Secretary (DS) division in Vavuniya district that depend on daily wages. AssistRR agreed to assist and have already distributed dry rations worth Rs 1000.00 that would last for a week to 500 families in Nedunkerni DS division. I personally visited 3 villages during the curfew with the assistance of the Divisional Secretary Mr Prathaban and saw first-hand of the distribution on 26th March. The system is working very well. The Divisional Secretaries have already collated lists of beneficiaries, who require this assistance. IMHO USA and Anbalayam Australia have also come forward to assist another 500 families each. Some of my classmates from Hartley College are also assisting another 500 families. We are therefore providing assistance to 2000 affected families in Nedunkerni DS Division in partnership with likeminded organisations and individuals. However, this is a problem faced by all families, which depends on daily wageworkers, all over Sri Lanka. With your support, we can assist many more families. AssistRR would implement this assistance with the support of Divisional Secretaries. Please kindly consider.

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Eye Care Services by Assist RR – Update

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:

Kadawatha Lions Hospital – Mullaithivu Patients – 18/08/19:

Suwanetha Eye Hospital – Mullaithivu Patients – 07/09/19:

Suwanetha Eye Hospital – Mannar Patients – 21/09/19:

Suwanetha Eye Hospital – Pathaviya Patients – 12/10/19:

Vavuniya DGH – Mullaithivu Patients – 26/10/19:

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AssistRR Cardiology Clinics in Vanni in August 2019

In August 2019, Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan, who is a cardiologist from the UK, conducted cardiology clinics in Kilnochchi and Mullaitivu District General Hospitals in Sri Lanka for one week. He saw over 150 patients and performed clinical examination, ECG, Echo and Exercise ECG testing on them. Many sick patients were identified and were given the correct treatment and/or referred on to Jaffna Teaching Hospital for further care. One such case was of a young man who was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and carditis (inflammation of the heart and valves). We offered the appropriate treatment and also took the opportunity to provide financial support for his family as it was dependent on his daily income as a labourer. The clinics were funded by Miss Niluxsha Mohanraj and her friends, who are students of Shmt Shanthi Thayaparan from London, by raising funds from Natyashethra Dance Festival in London on 29th June 2019. We are indebted to all those who made this charitable project possible.

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