Most of the developing countries in the third world receive almost unlimited assistance for local social development from international non-government organizations (NGO). Sri Lanka is one among those recipients scattered in the third world. Most of these NGOO are ready and willing to assist the developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and even in the developed countries in the rest of the world. It is rarely that we come across an international NGO organized to assist only a particular developing country. Reference here is made to an international NGO in Belgium named ADOPTIE SRI LANKA BELGIUM VZW. The very name of the organization indicates that it was established particularly to assist Sri Lanka. This also is the only foreign NGO that publishes a newspaper named AYUBOWAN in their local language.
In 1989 over three decades ago this NGO was introduced to Sri Lanka by a Belgium tour guide organizer named Gaston Dillen who used to visit Sri Lanka once or twice a year with a group of tourists. He was a devoted social worker. The emergence of “Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium VZW” was connected with a project to donate free spectacles organized by Mr. Gaston Dillen. In the year of 1989 he arranged to distribute over 22000 new and used pairs of spectacles free of charge, after examination of the eye sight of the recipients. Under the supervision of the Department of Probation and child care a scheme was formed called Sevena Sarana Foster Parents Scheme under which nearly 3000 destitute children received financial adoption. An innumerable number of school children in various areas received monthly scholarship assistance from Adoptie Sri Lanka. This includes the children in many pre-schools all over the country. Pre-schools with new buildings, fully equipped playgrounds and libraries were established in Pamunuwa, Vana Mee Kanda in Mirigama, Thunthalawa in Eheliyagoda and in Kandy.
The girls’ home in Mattegoda in Colombo district named “Sinha Salsevana Girls’ Home” was opened in July 1996. Several girls from this home got married recently. By 2018 there were 27 girls being looked after in this home.
Some remote underdeveloped villages were selected for development by supplying basic social needs and infrastructure. One such village is Vana Mee Kanda in Mirigama area. New houses and toilets were built for 28 families with two drinking water scheme. A new building was constructed for a pre-school with fully equipped playground. There are 42 students in the pre-school and 128 students in the scholarship scheme. Food-clothing- books and equipment are supplied for the children in the pre-school. A similar program was launched in a village called Thunthalawa in Eheliyagoda area with same benefits and facilities. There are 18 students in this pre-school and 125 students are receiving scholarship facilities.
The hands of assistance of Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium VZW are extended to several deserving districts. The districts of Anuradapura, Kandy, Matale can be mentioned in particular. The hospital in Nalanda in Matale district has almost got a new face-lift with the assistance of Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium. The hospitals in Dambulla Seeppukulama, Horowupathana and Anuradapura received necessary funding for various improvements.
In addition to all these there are several detailed programs of development arranged for several areas. The Udatenna projects, projects in Mihintale, the projects in Thanamalvila are classed as special projects of development with financial assistance and guidance of Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium VZW.
With the generosity of over 1000 spouses from Belgium, Adoptie Sri Lanka managed to collect as much as 194,000 euros to assist the victims of the disaster of the tsunami in 2004. The Mahila Samithi of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Belgium association joined hands with Adoptie Sri Lanka in this valiant project. The ROC Pre-School in Galagoda, Educational Centre in Mirissa 25 houses in Siribopura, 10 houses in Dodamgoda can be mentioned in particular.
These was an organization of families having adopted Sri Lankan children called “Sri Lanka In Our Heart (SLIOH). They renovated schools assisting 200 children, constructed libraries, reading halls for schools and reconstructed playgrounds of several schools.
It is recorded that 2982 children receive financial assistance. There are 14157 students coming under scholarship schemes. Construction of 18 pre-school buildings with playgrounds and the construction of 28 drinking water schemes is highlighted Construction of 294 houses was much appreciated by the deserving recipients.
All these projects mentioned here are funded by Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium VZW. Their funds come from
Contribution from foster parents
Donations from Belgium families
Donations of business firms
Subsidies from Municipalities
Organization of pan-cake days – lunches etc
Speeches and actions in churches schools, clubs etc.
annual magazine “AYUBOWAN”
So far Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium VZW has financed above mentioned projects spending about Rs.560,000,000 which is equal to 2,800,000 euros.
With the demise of Mr. Gaston Dillen all these activities are managed by Mr. John Van Dijck as the Managing Director and Mrs. Line Van Dijck of Hewer in Belgium who spend their own funds. Ms Linda Stabel from Belgium who is resident in Sri Lanka supervises all these projects as the president.
Priority of attention of Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium is now extended to a social problem which demands heavy priority in Sri Lanka. It is the very simple but extremely important problem of the supply purified drinking water. Thousands of villages particularly in the dry zone in Sri Lanka have become victims of acute kidney problems caused by drinking unpurified water. The districts of Polonnaruwa, Anuradapura and Kurunegala are the sources of complaints connected with kidney diseases. It is unfortunate to notice that the villages in some parts of the dry zone have to buy unpurified water for drinking. It is no secret that the government has not been able to settle this problem.
It is under these circumstances that any local voluntary organization or NGO should step in to reduce the agony of this problem. Sri Lanka Belgium Association established in the year 2000 has planned, with the active guidance and assistance from Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium VZW to assist at least a few villages to get over this serious problem.
The first trial project to supply purified drinking water for the villages was activated in the district of Polonnaruwa. According to Mr. Amaradasa Gunawardana the president of Sri Lanka Belgium Association who was also the Government Agent of Polonnaruwa district for nearly seven years took the initiative to select a remote village named Nawa Mahasen Pura close to the townlet of Welikanda. A population of nearly 2000 was used to consume unpurified water from the village wells or purchase unpurified water from private Lorries at the rate of Rs. 2.50 per liter. Nearly 1000 people in this area were subject to ailments connected with kidneys. A local village level voluntary organization named Maranadhara Samithy (Death donation society) with active participation of over 200 families undertook the village level leadership for the implementation of this project. Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium VZW financed the entire project which cost nearly 1 ½ million rupees. Presently, with the implementation of this project, the entire village and the colleagues from the adjoining villages are happily using purified water.
The system is that they sell purified water at the rate of one rupee per liter. They earlier were used to buy unpurified water at the rate of Rs. 2.50 per liter. Presently with the sale of water they earn enough money to maintain and repair the pump house machine and pay for electricity. They also have built up a saving account of nearly Rs. 500.000 within two years, which is available for any common purpose of the village similar procedure was adopted to have two drinking water projects in Kajuwatta in Polonnaruwa district and Hidogama in Anuradapura district.
The latest project of supply of purified drinking water is scheduled to take place in a remote village in the district of Polonnaruwa called Thalpotha. It comes under the administration of the divisional secretary of Lankapura. This latest project will cater to a larger area of the district. There are government departments, schools, temples and public places in addition to the village level population of nearly 2000 scheduled to be benefitted by this project. This project has the capacity of about 2000 liters of purified water for distribution. The estimated cost of this project is nearly 2,000,000 rupees. Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium VZW has already released in advance a grant of 10300 euros which was converted to Rs. 2008644. Construction work is now in progress in Thalpotha. The recipient villagers will be fortunate to consume purified drinking water in the forthcoming Sinhala New Year in the mid of April 2019 thanks to Adoptie Sri Lanka Belgium VZW.