A Cataract Surgery Camp in Vavuniya on 1st & 2nd Dec 2018

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

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Cardiology Clinics and Donation of Medical Equipment in Vanni

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.

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Assistance to Schools – Donation of Smart Classes & Furniture

Smart classes are useful and effective in the learning process of children. Smart classes use interactive modules like videos and presentations and these visually attractive methods of teaching becomes appealing to students who are already struggling with the traditional method of teaching in a classroom. This kind of visual is both eye-catching and young students can easily relate with them. A classroom has students with varied power of understanding and learning, and studying from notes and other materials becomes difficult for some students. But the use of smart classes and modern technology eases the learning process for all students. North and East of Sri Lanka is also catching up with Smart classes since the end of the war. Thanks to donors from the Diaspora, some schools have already started using smart classes and are seeing the benefit of them. We received requests from many schools in Vanni for smart classes. Only issue is that one smart class costs around £1800 – £2000 (around Rs 400,000.00) depending on the exchange rate. However, it is not impossible. we are happy to inform that Mrs Ananthi Sarveswaran from the UK, has funded 4 smart classes (3 classes to Ki/Sivapathakalaiyagam GTM School in Kilinochchi and 1 class to Fatima College in Kalmunai). These were setup in October 2018 and are currently in operation. I attach some photos of these classes. We have been informed that, although Fatima College is a National school, they are able to use their first smart class as a result of Assist RR’s assistance. Another kind hearted donor, Mrs Selvaratnam from the UK funded 45 sets of Type C furniture (desks & chairs for junior school children) to Ki/Sivapathakalaiyagam GTM School in Kilinochchi, following a request form the school. There are more schools in Vanni and the east, which are in need of these types of support. If anyone or any organisation, who are willing to assist the underprivileged schools, please kindly contact us.
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Solihull School’s Continued Support to Assist RR’s Endeavours

Solihull School in the West Midlands, UK, has been contributing to the needs of our victims of war back home since 2009. Recently, two 13-year old, Year-8 pupils, Conor & Harvey, completed running 9 kM in the “Race the Train”challenge to raise funds for 3 charities on 18 August 2018. They chose Assist RR as one of the beneficiary charities. Assist RR was introduced to the boys by Junior School Headmaster Mr Mark Penney. Harvey, who has a Sri Lankan heritage, did visit Sri Lanka recently and felt that there is so much still to do to repair the damage left by the 28 years of war. Conor and Harvey raised nearly £1800 and donated around £600 towards building a shelter for an IDP family in Sampoor. We are very grateful to Conor and Harvey for their amazing fund raising effort and their contribution. Assist RR donated nearly 100 reading glasses to a Vanni hospital in Aug 2018. The eye doctor told that their patients would benefit from frames and asked whether Assist RR can provide more of them. Mark Penney heard this story and, as a result, made an appeal to the School Community for frames. They collected nearly 950 frames, mostly brand new from a parent, who works for an Optician. A parent also donated a foci-meter, used to verify the correct prescription in a pair of reading glasses Solihull pupils, Francesca, Amelia and their friends also collected 255 women’s trainers to be donated to girls of a school in Kilinichchi. Mr Penney, on his way to SCOT’s dinner as the chief guest on 20 Oct, dropped these items in London to be shipped to Sri Lanka. Assist RR’s sincere gratitude to Solihull School community, in particular to Mr Penney and his family for their continued support.


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Dr Charlotte Milne served as a Volunteer at PTK Hospital

Two ex-teachers of Solihull School, UK, Martin & Lindsay Broughs were holidaying in Sri Lanka in Nov 2017 and spent 8 days with us in the north and east. As part of this trip, we took them to Puthukudiyiruppu (PTK) base hospital. They realised the difficulties faced by the doctors due to lack of resources. On their return, they arranged a meeting with their son, who is a doctor in the UK and has volunteered in the past, to explore arranging volunteer doctors to PTK hospital. Although he was keen to go to Sri Lanka, he was unable to commit himself in 2018. However, he managed to arrange a doctor to volunteer at PTK hospital. Dr Charlotte Milne from the Northeast of England offered her services. Assist RR arranged her registration and arranged all other necessary logistics. Dr Milne, who used her own funds to purchase the air tickets, reached PTK on 24th April and provided her services till 7th July. She didn’t ask for air-conditioned room and stayed at the hospital quarters for the local doctors. She also happily ate the food given by a local family. She also learnt some basic Tamil to communicate with the patients. The feedback received from the hospital and Dr Milne was very positive. We are therefore still looking for volunteers to serve in Vanni. We hope Diaspora Tamil doctors will also be willing to go and spend a few months. Please kindly contact us, if there are doctors, who are happy to volunteer their services in the north and east of Sri Lanka. We would like to express our gratitude to Martin & Lindsay Broughs, and their son Richard for arranging the doctor, and Dr Charlotte Milne for volunteering in a remote area for 2.5 months. We very much appreciate their assistance and sincerely hope that we will find more volunteers.

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A new Araneri School built for Tamil Aadivasi families in Muthur

Earlier this year, London Ealing Shri Kanaga Thurkkai Amman (SKTA) temple approached Assist RR and made a request to build an Araneri School for the benefit of Tamil Aadivasi families in Muthur, Trincomalee. Assist RR have been assisting these families in many ways and are aware of their needs. In consultation with the local people, it was decided to build the school in Santhosapuram, near Paadalipuram. SKTA temple provided the full funds and Assist RR (UK & SL) carried out this project within 5 months. Using the savings made in the project, Assist RR also provided furniture and water connection to the school, which was declared open on 10 Sept 2018 by Mr Thamotharampillai Joganathan, Chairman of Executive Committee of SKTA temple. Mr Sabalingam Abayalingam, Chairman of Board of Trustees of SKTA temple was also present at the opening ceremony. People from these Aadivasi villages expressed their gratitude to SKTA temple for their generous financial support for building this school.

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Cardiology Services Organised by Assist RR in Vanni, Sri Lanka

Free cardiology and echocardiogram clinic in Mannar, 25th-28th June: Assist RR has recently conducted 4th cardiology clinic in Mannar District General Hospital. With help from Dr Anenta Ratneswaran, Dr Mayooran Shanmuganathan, both cardiology doctors, consulted and scanned 236 patients.  Our special thanks to Mr James and his family of Mannar, who gave the doctors free accommodation during their stay in Mannar. Moreover Miss Vinuthy Vijayakaandeepan, a 16 year old student from UK also accompanied the doctors on the trip to perform voluntary service at the clinic; this must be congratulated and encouraged amongst the diaspora youth. During this clinic we also donated a cardiac defibrillator given to us by Mr Vaseeharan of UK. 

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Donation of cardiac exercise treadmill machine to Mannar District General Hospital: As we had appealed for the purchase of this machine to hospitals in Northern Province, Mannar Welfare Association (UK) came forward and promised the full amount to fund a machine for Mannar District General Hospital. Their promised donation amounts to approximately £12,500. The final installation of this machine took place on 1st August 2018. We anticipate that 1000s of patients would benefit from this every year by having their tests performed locally and avoid travelling 100s of kilometres to Jaffna or Vavuniya, where they have had to go until now. 

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Donation of cardiac exercise treadmill machine to Killinochi District General Hospital: Similar to above, our appeal was met with generous donations from Standing Committee of Tamils (SCOT, UK), Shri Kanaga Thurrkai Amman Temple (SKTAT, UK), Dr Paramanathan (UK) and an anonymous donor from the UK. With these funds amounting to 12,500, we were able to purchase another cardiac exercise treadmill machine to Killinochi District General Hospital. Again, we anticipate 1000s of patients would benefit. Please see attached photos and media reports of this handing over ceremony. Photos the installed machine are attached.

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Donation of echocardiogram machine by Mr Varatharajan and family (UK) to Killinochi Hospital: As we had previously mentioned, Mr Varatharajan and family from the UK handed over a brand new echocardiogram machine worth £27,500 to us at our fund raiser event in Croydon in May 2018. We enabled the delivery and installation of this precious machine to the director of Killinochi District General Hospital on 29th June 2018. This machine is the first of its kind in the whole of Sri Lanka and will help the cardiology doctors who visit Killinochi twice a month scan 1000s of patients a year and diagnose and manage their heart conditions more efficiently.

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Cardiology and echocardiogram clinic in Mullaithivu, 8 – 9 August 2018: Assist RR has conducted its first free cardiology clinic in Mullaithivu District General Hospital between 8-9 August 2018. Dr Manoharan Santhalingam, a volunteer cardiologist from the UK, consulted and scanned around 80 patients during the two-day clinic single handed. This resulted in early detection of many cardiac diseases and the patients were referred for further actions. This clinic has helped to reduce the workload on cardiologists in Vavuniya and Jaffna. Our special thanks to Dr Manoharan for volunteering to do this clinic.

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Dr Mayooran recently gave an interview to “Asian Voice” magazine. A link is given below.
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