A message from our Chairman, Dr Velautham Sarveswaran:
I would like to share a personal charitable initiative in Sri Lanka with you. My wife Ananthi and I opened an eye clinic in Vavuniya on 24th March 2019. This clinic is funded by my wife and I and is named “Ananthi Eye Care” (AEC), which was ceremonially opened by Mrs Parameswary Amma, who is from Ampalavan Pokkanai (neighbouring village of Mullivaikal) and one of the early beneficiaries of AssistRR’s cataract free surgeries. She was taken from Mullaithivu to Mannar in 2013 for the cataract surgery in one eye, as she had already lost vision in the other eye due to cataract. Dr M Sathananthan, Consultant Gynaecologist from the UK, Dr Asela Abeydeera from Association of Community Ophthalmologists of Sri Lanka, Ganeswaran Velautham (Founder of Shivan Foundation and my brother) and many more guests attended the ceremony. See Photos of AEC Opening Ceremony here. Local Consultant Ophthalmologists have been carrying out eye screening at this centre. We provide fee paying as well as free eye care services at this clinic including free spectacles to poor patients. Free screening is currently costing around £5.50 per patient. We have so far screened nearly 200 patients from Mullaithivu, Mannar, and Pathaviya for free. These patients were brought to our Clinic by buses on 3 different weekends and were screened. Around 35 elderly patients from Udaiyarkaddu were recommended to us by Oru Paanai (a UK based charity). Nearly 175 of these patients suffer from cataract and some of them were clinically blind. These patients would require surgeries to regain their eyesight. Fifty patients from Pathaviya were brought to our clinic by Karuna Trust (http://www.karunalanka.org), which is chaired by Mr Mahinda Karunaratne, who, in return, offered to fund 25 cataract surgeries to patients from Mullaithivu.
Further to requests from some hospitals in the east and north, AssistRR recently donated medical instruments to some of these hospitals. AssistRR would like to thank Diaspora Tamils, who provided funds to assist the hospitals, as described below:
- Kalmunai North Base Hospital – Biometry A-Scanner to assist cataract surgeries – As the A-Scanner had broken down at Kalmunai hospital, patients were being sent to Batticaloa hospital for biometry scan. As a result, many elderly and vulnerable patients were experiencing difficult journeys. Consultant, Dr Prem Anand, at Kalmunai Hospital shared the issues faced by the patients and asked whether AssistRR could assist the hospital to have an A-Scanner. In order to assist the elderly and vulnerable patients, AssistRR donated this instrument to Kalmunai Hospital in March.
- Chenkalady Divisional Hospital, Batticaloa – 2 Multipara Monitors – This hospital serves many remote villages, where people face snake bites, attacks by elephants, and many more health issues. As this hospital did not have multipara monitors, “Our Society” members, Dr Kantha Niranjan and Mr Venugobal, made a request to AssistRR to donate 2 multipara monitors. AssistRR donated these instruments on 3rd April.
- Mullaithivu District General Hospital – 5 Air Mattresses were donated to help patients, who are paralysed below the waist.
- Vavuniya Nursing Training School – Funded a water filtering system – Principal of the training school approached AssistRR and made a request for a water filtering system. She informed that she has been trying to have a filtering system since 2011 but all her efforts have been in vain. Nursing students have been forced to either bring water from home in bottles or to buy bottled water from shops. AssistRR funded a water filtering system and opened it for use in April.
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.