Solihull Junior School Head’s visit to Northern Sri Lanka

Mr Mark Penney, Head of Solihull Junior School, and his family spent 4 days of their precious holiday time in Sri Lanka on visiting the North and seeing the difficult living conditions of the war affected families. It reminds me of a recent speech by Jaffna High Court Judge Mr Illanchelian, who suggested that the Diaspora Tamils touring the North should spend sometime visiting areas badly affected by the war and in need of assistance. This is what exactly Mr Penney’s family did during their family holiday in Sri Lanka. Mr Penney has written a letter to friends of Assist RR and his school community and made a video montage based on his visit to the north. The letter and and the vide montage are provided in the links below. Please kindly read his letter and watch the video montage, which try to paint a picture of the current conditions in the north after 7 years of the end of the war. This is an independent and unbiased view of a kind hearted and charity minded person from the UK. I hope all of you will agree with his views and his recommendations. Please kindly forward this to your friends and family so that this will reach as many Diaspora Tamils as possible.

A Letter by Mr Penney to Assist RR’s friends on his visit to the north of Sri Lanka

A Video Montage made by Mr Penney on his visit to the North of Sri Lanka

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A New Building to PTK Sri Subramaniyam Vidyalayam

Sri Subramaniyam Vidyalayam Primary school in Puthukudiyiruppu was completely destroyed at the end of the war and was functioning in temporary shelters. Child Fund, an INGO, built a two storey building but left a portion (70’*30′) without constructing the first floor. Following a request from the principal and the education department, Assist RR agreed to fund it. Siblings of Late Miss Maheswary Velautham, who was from Karaveddy, Jaffna, and an Attorney at Law, donated Rs 2.5 Million towards building the first floor extension on top of the ground floor built by Child Fund. This building was constructed in memory of late Miss Maheswary Velautham, who dedicated her life to the needy and vulnerable people since 1983 and was assassinated in May 2008 at her ancestral home in Karaveddy while visiting her dying mother. She was the founder of “Forum for Human Dignity” and assisted hundreds of Tamil youths to be released from prisons. This school project was implemented by Assist RR (UK & SL) and Rotary Club of Mullaitivu. The building was declared open by Miss M Velautham’s brother and Chairman of Assist RR, UK, Dr V Sarveswaran on 22nd July, 2016 in the presence of Mullaitivu ZDE Mrs U Muneeswaran and President of Rotary Club of Mullaitivu, Mr N Sriskandarajah.

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Another Cataract Surgery Camp funded by Solihull School

On 17th July 2016, a cataract surgery camp funded by Solihull Junior School was conducted in Mullaithivu. Eighty elderly and vulnerable patients benefitted from this camp. Head of Solihull Junior School, Mr Mark Penney, and his family joined us at this event. He was moved by the stories of the beneficiaries and was glad that he and his family were able to witness the benefits of their school’s donation. The surgeries were conducted by Dr Dias Jeyasiri, who has been providing a great service to the needy and vulnerable cataract patients. He has already voluntarily carried out more than 1000 surgeries that were funded by Assist RR in the north and east. The camp was organised by Vision 2020 and supported by Mullaithivu General Hospital. Assist RR would like to express its gratitude to Solihull Junior School for their donation, Dr Dias Jeyasiri for his selfless service to the mankind, Vision 2020 for their hard work in organising the camp and Mullaithivu GH for providing the necessary support for making the camp a successful one.

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Donating Play Equipment to Kaively (PTK) Kanthan Pre-School

Assist RR  built Kanthan Pre-School in Kaively, Puthukudiyiruppu in August 2013. The school was funded in memory of Late Mr Vigneswararajah Rajaratnam of Toronto and Kondavil, and Late Miss Maheswary Velautham, Attorney at Law, from Karaveddy. Mr Vigneswararajah’s parents Mr Aarumugam and Mrs Annapooranam Rajaratnam, who live in Canada, visited this pre-school on 02 June 2016 to hand over three play equipment donated in memory of their son Mr Vigneswararajah. The education director responsible for the pre-schools was present and told us that the play equipment will significantly improve attendance of the children to the school. We ourselves witnessed the happiness of the children when they were allowed to play in these equipment. When we were building pre-schools in 2013 (6 in total), we concentrated only on the buildings and toilets, as we had limited funds. All other 5 pre-schools that we built do not have any play equipment yet. Hopefully, we will be able to provide play equipment soon. The cost of the three play equipment is £875.

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A Building to Sampoor Shri Murugan Primary School

Shri Murugan Primary School together with Sampoor Maha Vidyalayam (MV) were functioning in the hostel of Chenaiyur MV following displacement in 2006 due to the civil war.  Finally, these schools were allowed to return to their homes in early April 2016. When they returned, there was nothing at Shri Murugan Primary except the land. The school started functioning in a house opposite to the school land. When we visited Sampoor on 24 April 2016, we were invited to the Primary School by the principal and the zonal director. Assist RR have been assisting these two displaced schools over the past few years in many ways. They asked whether we could assist them with a temporary building to educate the children in a decent environment. After witnessing their plight, Assist RR couldn’t say no to their request and arranged to construct a temporary building. The building was completed in middle of May 2016 and was ceremonially opened by the principal on 20 May 2016. Henry Amalraj and members of Building Blocks, UK, participated in the event. I attach some photos of the temporary building. We generally identify the need, raise funds and then start the projects. But this project is different. We had to agree to do the work even without the funds. I am sure we will somehow raise it.

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Mass Cataract Surgery Camp in Vavuniya 31/5 – 04/06 2016

We would like to inform that we have successfully completed our mass cataract surgery camp on 3rd June and the surgeons from India and Singapore have restored eye sight, at least in one eye, to 486 patients. There were many patients who came blind and returned home being able to see the world after long time. When many of them were thanking us, the surgeons and the donors, they couldn’t control their emotions and were in tears. The patients were full of praise for all those involved in the camp. It was very touching and heart-warming to see their happiness after their eyesights were restored. It is very difficult to describe this feeling by words. Many of them come from very poor background and have been waiting for months and years to restore their eyesights. They told us that they couldn’t do the surgeries due to their financial situation and that they have now undergone the surgery because of the free camp organised by Assist RR in partnership with Vision 2020, Sri Lanka, The Vision Mission, Singapore, and Rotary Club of Mullaitivu. Thanks to our kind hearted donors, 486 elderly and vulnerable people are now able to see the world. The donors are as follows:

1. Kaarai Welfare Society through Enlightenment Circle of UK – 100 surgeries – Majority from Mullaitivu district;
2. Gods Own Children Foundation and Anbalayam both from Australia – 100 surgeries – Majority from Mannar district;
3. Funded in Memory of late Mr Vigneswararajah Rajaratnam from Kondavil & Toronto through Assist RR – 100 surgeries – from Kilinochchi district;
4. Solihull Junior School, West Midland, UK – 100 surgeries – Vavuniya district;
5. Funded in Memory of late Miss Maheswary Velauthm, attorney at law, Karaveddy, through Assist RR – 86 Surgeries – Anuradhapura district.

Assist RR have now organised, with the support of many organisations, and completed more than 2100 surgeries in Sri Lanka. In addition to organising these camps, Assist RR have also funded a part of the 2100 surgeries. We are hoping that The Vision Mission, in partnership with Assist RR, will continue to provide surgeons to help the needy in Sri Lanka. We would like to thank all the donors as listed above, the surgeons, The Vision Mission, Vision 2020, Rotary Club of Mullaitivu, wonderful staff of Vavuniya General Hospital, sisters from Colombo eye hospital, and many others who have made this surgery camp a very successful one.

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A Pre-School Built in Sampoor, Trincomalee‏

As you are aware, nearly 1000 families, who were displaced in 2006 due to the war and were languishing in four camps and with friends and relatives, were finally allowed to return to their land from August 2015. The IDP families needed support and their desperate needs included shelters, toilets, water, livelihood support and school shelters.  Following a request from the GA of Trincomalee, Assist RR agreed to build a pre- school and approached Building Blocks,UK, which is a registered charity in the UK and run by our second generation. Building Blocks agreed to fund construction of a pre-school in Sampoor at a  cost of £7000 and, in addition, agreed to fund play equipment and fence around the school and furniture at a cost of £1660. The construction has now been completed and the school was ceremonially opened for use yesterday. Members of Building Blocks, who are on a field trip in Sri Lanka, participated in the opening ceremony. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of Building Blocks, UK. Assist RR would like to express it gratitude to Building Blocks for their kind support to Sampoor IDP families. Assist RR has been approached by the GA’s office and the ZDE of Muthur to provide one more pre-school, as the 2nd phase of resettlement of 546 families started on 25 March 2016. The pre-school would assist mothers in the area to be involved in livelihood activities without worrying about looking after their children during school times. Please kindly consider supporting this need. 

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To view more photos, please click this Facebook page link.

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