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Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - May 2012

Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

Message

I take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers who had served with humanitarian commitment over the last 75 years, bringing relief to the hundreds of thousands of those who were affected by various disasters in Sri Lanka. Having joined as a volunteer from school and through experience the opportunity to give leadership to the organization today, I am indeed happy to send this message through this publication with my best wishes for the future success of our society and in making the wider public aware of the volunteer service in its passage of its humanitarian service. Jagath Abeysinghe Hony. President

Today I take great pleasure in writing a note in our Newsletter which we are republishing in a new format. This comes as we have completed 75 years of serving Sri Lankans in their humanitarian needs. The amount of work which we have done on the shoulders of our volunteers and our staff is commendable and that stands as one of the pillars of modern Sri Lankan society, showcasing our continuos commitment in helping the most vulnerable. Today the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society is taking on much complex projects in order to address the suffering of the most vulnerable. Not only do we fulfil the needs in times of disasters, but going beyond planning and preparing our communities and equipping them to be stronger, giving them the tools to face any type of disaster. For an example, we do not simply build a house but going beyond we help them to regain their lives by providing proper livelihood and other support. These types of programme certainly have attested to the holistic approach the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society. I especially would like to take my hats off to the most valuable work done by our noble volunteers who have dedicated their lives beyond what is expected and have made this society what it is today. Similarly I very much appreciate the work done by our staff in strengthening the societys support to our community. We certainly have a long way to go, however I feel that this journey is one where we will achieve and accomplish the very best, and in return giving a quality product and service to the most vulnerable people of Sri Lanka. Tissa Abeywickrama Director General

Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

World Red Cross Day 2012


To mark this years World Red Cross Red Crescent Day on 8th May, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society is celebrating the contributions of young people and encouraging their continued action and leadership under the global theme, Youth on the move. In solidarity with the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society hosted several humanitarian activities today throughout the country. The national event was held in Rambewa, Anuradhapura. 200 families in Rambawa Diviyaudabandawewa village who were displaced by the 2010 floods received new houses today, which was constructed by the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The Director General of SLRCS Tissa Abeywickrama at a ceremony held in Diviyaudabandawewa today (8th May 2012) vested the houses in the public. Meanwhile a community center and tractors for farmers in the area were also presented to the public at the national event. Bharatha Jonikkuhewa Vice President of SLRCS, Bob McKerrow Head of IFRC Sri Lanka, Angelina Adler, ICRC WatHab Coordinator,

Special
SLRCS Branch Chairman E. R. Thilakaratne along with staff of SLRCS and many other distinguished guests were present at the event.

Meanwhile a blood donation campaign was also organized at the village with the support of the District Medical Officer. Many villagers took part in donating blood. Along with the blood donation camp another medical camp was also held in the vicinity to help the people in the area to check their medical health free of charge.

Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

News
Celebrating World Red Cross Day 2012
08/05/2012 Colombo, Sri Lanka: In solidarity with the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society hosted several humanitarian activities today throughout the country. The national event was held in Rambewa, Anuradhapura. Meanwhile several events to celebrate the World Red Cross Day were held by branches of SLRCS located island wide

Investment on mitigation & early warning pays off in Sri Lanka


11/04/2012 Colombo, Sri Lanka Following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake, which struck off the coast off Banda Aceh, Indonesia on the afternoon of one day prior to the Sinhala & Tamil New Year, local authorities took steps to evacuate people living in the coastal areas for safety. Sri Lanka Red Cross Societys Branch Disaster Response Teams (BDRT) were deployed within minutes of the first tremor in Eastern Sri Lanka to assess the situation and to be on standby to assist evacuation procedures.

Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

News
Providing the source of life for the people of Walioya
10/04/2012 Welioya, Anuradhapura: Residents of Monarawewa and Gajabapura villages in Welioya will now have access to clean water as the Sri Lanka Red Cross Societys (SLRCS) Anuradhapura Branch launched a massive well cleaning programme in these respective villages. Many wells were cleaned during a four-day programme, which will benefit over 164 families living in these areas. Residents of these villages are internally displaced and have been resettled recently. However most were not provided with the basic facilities such as access to safe drinking water.

Aid to Manike Farm IDP camp after a mini cyclone


05/04/2012 Menik Farm, Northern Sri Lanka: The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) has taken immediate steps to provide much needed aid to the victims of the mini cyclone that swept across the Menik Farm Internally Displaced Camp in Vavuniya. With permission from security forces personnel manning the Menik Farm camp SLRCS lorries were taken inside the camps to provide relief to 375 families still living within the camp.

Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

News
A community centre for the people of Thalalla
02/04/2012, Thalalla, Matara: During the 7 year-long tsunami recovery operation I have been at the inauguration of hundreds of buildings funded by the Red Cross and today I was thrilled to have cut the ribbon to a community centre which won a very prestigious architectural award for the Thalalla community centre in Matara, Sri Lanka.

Matale Red Cross branch gets a new home


08/04/2012 Matale, Sri Lanka: The Matale branch moved to a new building today under the auspicies of the President of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) Jagath Abeysinghe. The new building constructed with the support of Norwegian Red Cross & the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies was unveiled officially amidst distinguished guests.

Enhancing community response on Early Warning


18/01/2012 Galle, Sri Lanka Under the Risk Reduction Programme, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society distributed rescue boats, emergency response equipments to the communities of Thawalama & Welivitiya DS divisions... More on this story Click Here

Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

News
Thank you for a job well done!!
31/01/2012 Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Lessons Learnt and Appreciation Ceremony for the Red Cross Post Flood Recovery Assistance Programme was held to honor and thank the staff, volunteers and the beneficiaries of the programme. The event took place in Colombo with the participation of the President of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) Jagath Abeysinghe, Director General of SLRCS Tissa Abeywickrama, Head of IFRC Sri Lanka Bob McKerrow, Deputy Head of Delegation of ICRC Finn Ruda and the Head of Operations & Services Col. Sudath Madugalla.

Upgrading healthcare for the most vulnerable in Eastern Sri Lanka


04/02/2012 Thoppur, Sri Lanka: Since the conflict in Sri Lanka came to an end there is a massive development phase that is been rolled out in all parts of the country. As of now high ways, tallest towers, new roads, electricity, water, and other essential services are being established in areas where guns and mortars were experienced for over 30 years. Such development event took place recently (3rd of February 2012) in Toppur, Eastern Sri Lanka, where the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) supported by the German Red Cross (GRC) and the European Union (EU) Returnee Assistant Project upgraded the Divisional Hospital in Toppur.

Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

Strengthening the education of the most vulnerable

Special
13/02/12 Colombo, Sri Lanka: 250 scholarships to students from lowincome families were awarded by the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) in view of its 75th anniversary celebrations held at the BMICH in Colombo with the patronage of the Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapakse. SLRCS childrens Scholarship Fund, a brain child of Hony. President Jagath Abeysinghe and with blessing of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapakse is governed by a panel consisting Coordinating secretary (Parliamentary Affairs) to H.E. the President, Mr. Kumarasiri Hettige and representatives of Education Ministry, Income this in time and time after, especially Tax department, Bank of Ceylon and in times of the tsunami. Many came to help us with big boards and big noise, This scholarship is an ongoing pro- several other banks and Institutions. but did nothing. Not the Red Cross. gramme of the Society, which provides the facility to low income families in all 250 students from all parts of Sri Lan- They were the ones who did some parts of the country. ka were in present at the ceremony honest work for the most vulnerable held at the BMICH in view of the 75th Furthermore the minister went on to say This scholarship is a gift to our The Scholarship awarding programme anniversary. children. There are many who focus on is aimed at Advanced Level students who may encounter difficulties in con- One of the most commendable fact to school children who are young. They tinuing their education after getting note is that a student who received this have various schemes to get into good through Ordinary Level, due to finan- scholarship last year from Jaffna was schools and have a proper education, cial constrains. selected to the Medical University of but this scholarship, which focuses on Sri Lanka with a passing mark of 260. the higher level education certainly gives the boost to our children to finish The financial assistance under this scheme will be Rs. 1000/= a month for Addressing the gathering the Minis- their education in a proper manner. I the two years of advanced level stud- ter of Economic Development Basil thank the Red Cross for this. ies. The allowance is paid in advance Rajapakse said, The Sri Lanka Red at the start of every school term. The Cross Society is the only organization Education Ministry on the recommen- in Sri Lanka that has actually looked dation of principals will do the selec- after the most vulnerable without any tion of recipients. hidden agendas. We have witnessed

Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

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Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

Red Cross was my savior


S.M.B.S Weerakoon

Feature
Moneragala, Sri Lanka: As usual Nishshanka Prasanna Technical officer for the Post Flood Recovery Assistance Programme (PFRAP) attached to the Sri Lanka Red Cross Societys Moneragala Branch started his daily routine by visiting Red Cross beneficiaries. If it was not for the Red Cross, I am sure I would have lost my life. When things like this happen we are so helpless. The Red Cross was my savior says Weerakoon. He was selected and was granted a 35,000 rupees as a livelihood grant. He started cultivating again and settled his When he was passing a vegetable garden located in the bank loan too. by cultivating green grams and Kawpi, now Balaharuwa village, suddenly he saw a board fixed in mid- he earns a considerable amount of income to feed his famdle of a land with a Red Cross Logo, and also something ily and to live a decent life. was. He was so curious about it and wanted to know what it was and who put up such a board in the middle of a paddy land. Nishshanka knew it was Weerakoons vegetable garden. He started to move close to the board and saw it was written in Sinhala and it said For the support given to us to cultivate, I sincerely thank the Red Cross S.M.B.S Weerakoon a father of three lost his entire cultivation from the flooding that occurred in early 2011. At the time when the disaster struck, he was successfully cultivating crops such as peanuts and corn. He had obtained a bank loan to enhance his business; however the floods that ravaged his area put him on a situation where he was helpless. At this juncture Weerakoon came to know about the Sri Lanka Red Cross Societys Post Flood recovery programme and he too thought to apply, with much hope.

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Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

Feature

A love story transcending hope through the test of time

Thalayadi, Sri Lanka: Thalayadi is a village located in the northern tip of Sri Lanka in the Jaffna Peninsula. The village comprises of fishermen and laborers who are in the lowest spectrum of poverty living their dayto-day lives and working hard in order to build a better future. These people have faced a 30-year-old conflict, a tsunami, floods, cyclones, droughts and severe drinking water shortages in recent times. Seelavathi & Perumal who comes from two different background calls Thalayadi, home. Seelavathi is a woman born to a Sinhalese family in Rathnapura. Perumal is a man born to a Tamil family and have been living his life in various parts of Jaffna. In the 1960s, way before the conflict began Seelavathi was working in a glass factory in the capital Colombo. Perumal was working for a wealthy businessman in the capital as well. Everyday Seelavathi goes to a local eatery to have her lunch. And this is where she met Perumal, who also comes to the same shop to have his meals. I saw him every day at that

place says a blushing Seelavathi. He use to talk to us with the little Sinhala he knew and I found that amazing. Since then I have been with him In the late 60s Perumal took Seelavathi as his lawful wedded wife and both came to Jaffna looking for peace prosperity and a good life in the northern shores of the island. However after few years the war broke out and the area they lived came under the control of the LTTE. Seelavathi was taken to custody by the LTTE for merely being a Sinhalses woman and was charged with spying for Government troops.

She was tortured for information on several occasions. Later on she with 5 other women who were captured by the LTTE managed to escape and made her way to Colombo where she lived the next few years under the shelter of her brother. Perumal was still living in Jaffna and was not in a position to come to see her, however managed to send secret messages to her about his safety via several individuals who were able to travel to north most of the time. In the mid 90s Perumal managed to bring back his beloved wife Seelavathi back to the Jaffna peninsula where

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Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

they managed to rebuild a house of their own in the northern tip in a village called Palai, from the money they saved overtime.

Tsunami & the War


After they reunited Seelavathi use to do odd jobs in order to find some money and Perumal was a fishermen. On the early hours on 26th of December 2004, Seelavathi & Perumal witnessed another tragedy as their house got caught to the tsunami waves that hit the shores of Sri Lanka. This was a brutal blow to their lives as they lost every thing they had, including money, jewelry & the house they both built together. We saved some money in the 80s by doing two or three jobs says Perumal recollecting the past. Both of us managed to build a very nice house, just a matter of seconds its all gone After the tsunami they relocated themselves to an Internally Displaced Camp, which was in an area under the control of the LTTE. In 2009 when the

final battle took place, Seelavathi & Perumal were among the thousands that ran from place to place in the north of Sri Lanka in order to save their lives. During this time Seelavathi managed to get them in to a Government led IDP camp in order to seek shelter and to save their lives from the war that was in its final stages.

programme and was handed the first installment to build the foundation for their new house and currently have completed work until the roof. She now only has to place windows and do the final touches to the house. During the first quarter of 2010, with the gradual relaxing of access restriction to the Northern region, the SLRCS and the RC Movement partners have developed an integrated programme to support the return and recovery of the IDPs now known as the Post Conflict Recovery Programme (PCRP). The programme is primarily in support of people who have been displaced due to the conflict and are either still displaced or in the process of resettlement. Similarly to the post Tsunami Community Recovery and Reconstruction Partnership the so called Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery and Reconstruction Programme will support the peoples process of reconstructing their homes by providing cash grants, grants for reconstruction of community infrastructure, technical support and community mobilization in the areas

Relocation, Rebuilding & Red Cross Support


After the conflict ended the Government of Sri Lanka resettled most of the people living in IDP camps. Seelavathi & Perumal received a plot of land in the village they currently live in called Thalayadi. Both of them managed to build a hut from what ever they can and have been living in this hut for over 1- years. In the latter part of 2011 the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) supported by the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) rolled out the northern phase of the Post Conflict Recovery Programme in Jaffna. Seelavathi got selected to receive benefits from the

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Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

of livelihood, health and care, disaster preparedness and hygiene promotion. The programme is carried out in partnership with German Red Cross and IFRC supported by Japanese Red Cross Society, Australian Red Cross, UAE Red Crescent and South Korean Red Cross in close coordination with Government Authorities.

Seelavathi & Perumal also qualified for this and received a sum of 20,000 Sri Lanka Rupees to start whatever that is feasible for them to do in order to earn some living. With this money Seelavathi bought several Aloe Vera plants and few vegetable plants like Okra, chilies & fruits like King Coconuts, & calamondin orange to start a vegetable garden.

around find them a source of income and get them to be citizens who are able to look after themselves. This is our full package of assistance and thus far it has worked marvelously.

The Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery Programme has managed to save lives and change minds of the most vulnerable people who are living in In a first step it will assist up to 5,000 dire conditions in the former war zones families including support to host famiof Sri Lanka. As of now one third of the lies and communities. Currently she has achieved much suc- work is complete and the programme cess with the garden. The Sri Lanka aims to forge towards new communiThe basis of primary target popula- Army is now buying the aloe vera Ive ties who need assistance in rebuilding tion for the programme is Killinochchi, planted for 50 rupees a piece. their lives. Mullaitivu and Mannar districts as well as conflict-affected areas of Vavuniya, They have agreed to buy my whole Trincomalee, Jaffna, Anuradhapura crop when they are big. We find and Polonnaruwa districts. enough money for us to live and save a little by selling vegetables.

Livelihood Support

The whole idea of this programme is Another component of the PCRP Pro- to make the most vulnerable people, gramme is to provide livelihood sup- and make them people who are able, port to people so that they can earn says Dr. Mahesh Gunasekara who is and live a dignifying life without being the Senior Coordinator for the PCRP a burden to the society. Programme. We do not stop after we help them to build their house; we stick

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Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

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Newsletter of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society - January - June 2012

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