It was certainly very much before the tsunami disaster, that many a helping hand from abroad was extended to the needy in Sri Lanka. In addition to the bi-lateral agreements for mutual assistance, many NGOs had initiated programs of assistance targeted to assist many developing countries. Among them, there are some who directed their assistance exclusively to Sri Lanka. The charitable association ADOPTIE SRI LANKA vzw of Putte in the Flemish part of Belgium is one organization of this category which operates with the contributions from the philanthropic community in Belgium and is officially recognized by the Belgian Finance Minister. A periodical named “AYUBOWAN” published by them conveys the news to the Belgian society.
A series of social service projects scattered in several parts of Sri Lanka in a variety of fields has been actively launched by Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium steadily without much adore. In December 1989 Mr. Gaston Dillen the President of Adoptie Sri Lanka vzw pioneered this series of programs by distributing 2000 pairs of spectacles among the poor (now already more than 20.000 !). The doors were open for financial assistance for thousands of needy children. So far as 1858 children, under the Sevana Sarana Foster Parents Scheme scattered all over the island, were looked after by this association. In addition to this, there are 169 deaf and blind children from Anuradhapura, 127 children from the village Digana Alutwatta, 160 children in Susith Sarana Foster Plan in Pamunugama and 10 mentally handicapped children in Thanamalwila who were taken care of by this organization. Almost every year foster parents from Belgium visit their adoptive children in Sri Lanka.
In the month of July 1996 the girls’ orphanage Sal Sevana was opened in Mattegoda which looks after the day to day needs and continuous education of twenty destitute girls. There is a regular annual inspection visit to this beautiful home bij representatives of Adoptie Sri Lanka vzw.
Pamunugama in Negombo area is a locality very much assisted by Adoptie Sri Lanka.
The Susith Sarana Foundation in Pamunugama handles a nutritious program, an educational assistance scholarship program for almost 700 children, a community centre with a pre-school for 80 children and a vocational training centre, projects financed by a Flemish family, as well as a foster parents scheme assisted by Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium.
Clearing of the thick jungle on the hill top of Vanamee Kanda, a neglected village in Mirigama area opened the doors for the reawakening of a poor hamlet.
Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium launched the multi-purpose project in 2000 through Sri Lanka-Belgium Association. A preschool with a fully equipped playground was constructed to accommodate as many as 50 children who receive clothing, stationary and a midday meal. All the students in the village receive scholarship financial assistance. Two drinking-water schemes were established. Temporary huts were replaced by 28 new houses and 15 houses were renovated. A shrine room was constructed and many families were helped in self employment. There is a new world on the Vanamee Kanda hill top. A Bo sapling from the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura was planted near the shrine room on the hill top.
This beautiful spot has now become the central place of the village where they pray and play together.
The Deaf and Blind School in Anuradhapura turned a new page of history with the assistance of Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium. All the furniture and equipment for the new dormitory, furniture and books for the library, a fully equipped playground were provided under this project. A water tower was constructed along with two sanitary blocks. The donation of a copymachine, a bicycle and a tricycle to this institute of education was a memorable helping hand extended to the management.
Adoptie Sri Lanka very willingly provided assistance to the Kandyan area. The renovation of the village temple in Digana Aluthwatte, construction of two water tanks for drinking purposes, the renovation of the building of the Sri Subodha Lama Niwasa in Belungala, the donation of a refrigerator and other domestic equipments can be mentioned in the long list of assistance.
The government hospitals in Nalanda (Matale), Mihintale, Seeppukulama, Dambulla and Horowpathane have been immensely assisted by Adoptie Sri Lanka. The supply of medical equipment, the construction of new buildings and renovations were given high priority.
The voluntary organization named “Sith Sevana Mentally Handicapped Children Development Society” in Thanamalwila has been extensively helped by Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium. A new dormitory with accommodation for 30 beds was constructed. They are fully equipped. A tube-well was constructed an yet another new dormitory is coming up. Belgian foster parents have adopted 10 handicapped children from Thanamalwila.
A new organization called Missaka-Belgium Confederation has come up in Mihintale.
A preschool cum community centre has been opened in July of 2006. This preschool will accommodate 75 children from the Mihintale area. This is a special project sponsored by the pupils of Dijkstein primary school in Sint-Katelijne-Waver Belgium.
With the invasion of the tsunami disaster in December 2004, Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium moved very fast to assist the victims. In response to the request made by
Sri Lanka-Belgium Association and Lanka Mahila Samithi, Adoptie Sri Lanka sponsored the construction of a pre-school with a fully equipped playground and all furniture to accommodate 100 children. This is located in Galagoda near Hikkaduwa where over 1000 new houses have come up to accommodate the victims of the train tragedy in Telwatta. The cost of this project is nearly Rs. 4.5 million. This school was declared open on 9th December 2005 by the sponsors ROC Ghent in Belgium.
A community centre which was razed to the ground by the tsunami is now being reconstructed in Mirissa and was sponsored by Mr. and Mrs John and Line Van Dijck of Hever Belgium. It also comprizes a preschool, a Sunday school and a vocational training centre and has been officially opened by them in July 2006.
Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium has already sponsored the construction of 25 houses in Hambantota for tsunami victims. They also sponsored the construction of 10 more houses in Dodangoda for ten selected needy families.
In recognition and appreciation of the friendly assistance pouring in from Belgium a village in Elipitiya is named Belgiumugama (Belgian Village). More than 20 small permanent houses have been constructed for 20 needy families in Belgiumugama in Elipitiya.
A pre-school for this village has been constructed. The “Aruna Home for Mentally Retarded Children” in Panadura was gifted with a fully equipped playground by Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium.
Over 100 daycare centres and preschools scattered all over the country are managed by Lanka Mahila Samithi. The buildings in these places had not been maintained or repaired for a long period. Adoptie Sri Lanka provided the funds required for the urgent repairs in these buildings. In the Sigiriya area there are ten poor families who were gifted with new houses by Adoptie Sri Lanka. Many more projects are planned by Adoptie Sri Lanka for the years to come. Adoptie Sri Lanka receives its funds from the Belgian foster parents and other philanthropic Belgian families, charity concerts, Sri Lanka Days and the website www.adoptiesrilanka.be .
It is exclusively for Sri Lanka that our friends in Adoptie Sri Lanka collect all the funds regularly and methodically and channel them through the following organizations:
1.Department of Probation & Childeare Services (Nugegoda)
2.Sri Lanka-Belgium Orphan Childrens’ Trust (Colombo)
3.Susith Sarana Foundation (Pamunugama)
4.Deaf & Blind School Management Society (Anuradhapura)
5.Lions Club International (Kandy)
6.Lions Club International (Colombo Somerset)
7.Sri Lanka-Belgium Association (Rajagiriya)
If only we utilize the foreign assistance diligently, honestly and with transparency we get qualified for more assistance. It is necessary simply because we ourselves have brought down our country to this level. Assistance may be macro or micro, it is irrelevant.
Little drops of water will make a mighty ocean!.
Sri Lanka-Belgium Association