A Travellerspoint blog

Visiting Magilin and donating to other charitable work

Maharagama Cancer Hospital and Theldeniya orphanage

We had a very satisfying experience in visiting Preethipura orphanage. We have allocated more money for charity and decided to visit a few other charities to find how we can help. We were told about a charitable organization run by a Buddhist priest who lives near the Cancer
hospital. We decided to make a visit and get first hand information about this facility.

Maharagama Cancer Hospital is the only hospital that treats cancer patients in the country. All cancer patients and their visitors have to travel to Maharagama for any kind of cancer related treatment . There are out patients who are not warded, but have to visit the hospital for treatment on a regular basis. Then there are relatives and friends of patients who come to visit the patients who are already warded in the hospital. Most of these people travel long distances taking several hours using public transport. Hospital does not provide accommodation for them.

Giving certificate to Helen

Giving certificate to Helen

Cancer Care Welfare - Sri Lanka Society is an organization that has been formed to help such patients. We heard about it in Australia and wanted to pay visit to see how we can help this charity. On January 3, we hired a vehicle and travelled to Maharagama. We had three people (Mala, Helen and I ) in our group. The place is well known among the people who live in the area and we had no difficulty in finding the place. There is a small office and a reception attached to the building and we explained the reason for our visit. The person at the reception asked us to wait and finally we managed to meet the Administrative director, Ven. Weganthale Seewalee Thero. He explained to us the history, the purpose and the objectives of the organization.

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This organization was initially formed in 1982 under the patronage and guidance of some prominent Buddhist priests. They realized the need for a place to provide accommodation to out patients and their relatives when they visit the hospital. Presently there are two basic sleeping facilities in the complex, one for females and one for males. Any one who visits the hospital can get free accommodation. In addition , they provide all three meals free. There is a kitchen with basic facilities. Now they are in the process of upgrading the kitchen to cater to the ever increasing demand for food. They are not getting any funding from the government, but depending on the donations from people like us.

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They were lucky in getting the adjoining block of land as a gift from the owner. They are planning to build a meditation centre attached to the complex. I was not sure how a meditation centre can help cancer patients. The priest explained the logic behind it. We know there is no cure for many forms of cancer. Cancer patients lose the battle for survival both physically and mentally when the drugs do not help them. If you can keep your mind firm and calm, you can use meditation to cure certain types of cancer. You mind can win over your body. I was not fully convinced , but I know that
in some cases, the mind can be very powerful.

We made a donation of $200.00 towards the rebuilding of the kitchen. We took some photographs and the priest gave us some pirith nools to be tied around your arm. The priest took us to show the kitchen and the two sleeping facilities. We talked to a few patients before leaving the Cancer care facility.

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We left the place and drove to our next destination which is Magilin's house. Magilin was a kind of helper to our household when we were in Sri Lanka. She used to look after our children, specially Sumali who was very young. She is now fairly old and has no regular income. Mala sends her money once a year for the new year. We decided to pay a visit to her. When we went there, she has prepared boiled Jack fruit with coconut scrape. For us it was a delicacy. We ate that and finally gave her some money before leaving for Colombo.

Posted by fernando65 14:14 Comments (0)

Visit to Preethipura Children's Orphanage

January 02, 2014

During our trip to Sri Lanka, we have been planning to visit an orphanage and make a small but a positive contribution to the welfare of the children. There are many orphanages in Sri Lanka, some funded by the government and the others funded and run by private organizations.
We wanted to select one that does not get much support from the government or other foreign organizations.
Preethipura children's orphanage is a privately owned orphanage in a small village called Hendala just outside Colombo. There are nearly seventy disabled children and twenty five workers to look after them. The workers are mainly girls lovingly called Akkas ( older sisters ) . Some of them are orphans who grew up in the orphanage and later became part of the work force. Others are from nearby villages. Their monthly salary is around Rs 8000.00 which is roughly about seventy dollars. They get accommodation and food free. They can easily find work for double the salary as house maids or as workers in garment factories. But once they start working with helpless disabled children, they come to love them and they do not want to leave the place.

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At Preethipura, we found that some of the disabled children came from poor families who cannot afford to look after them. Others have been totally abandoned by their parents. There were several children who were deformed and discarded by their families. The parents leave them in a public place to be discovered by the police.

Before coming to Sri Lanka, we contacted the management of Preethipura through my nephew Chathura. He lives in Sri Lanka and managed to arrange a date to offer lunch for the children at the orphanage. We could either give provisions to them or give them money to buy provisions. They total cost of the lunch for the children and the staff is only about $60.00. We were willing to give them a more expensive lunch, but the management advised us to stick to the standard lunch. We also wanted to make a bigger contribution, but we wanted to see their requirements before making a commitment.

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We had a group of seven people. We went to the orphanage around 11:30am. The Akkas ( older sisters ) arranged the lunch plates on trolleys and got ready to serve lunch at 12:00 noon. We had a chance to go around the building and have a look at the children while waiting for the lunch to be served. A few children are quite active and they wander around the building. The less active children are wheel chair confined or confined to the bed. They are totally dependent on the workers to feed them and clean them. We saw a few disabled children in a room lying on mattresses. They are kept there for a short period of time to move their arms and legs and get much needed exercise.

There was one lady who volunteered to become a worker to be with her daughter. This lady has another grown up daughter and a husband. Twenty five years ago, when she was pregnant with the second child, she went to the hospital for the child birth. The doctor did not arrive on time and the child's head got stuck for a long time. Later the doctor came and did a forceps delivery. The child, a girl, was found to be brain damaged and later when they realized the true situation, the girl was transferred to the orphanage. Now the mother comes to the orphanage twenty days a month to be with the daughter. She looks after her daughter and also helps with the other children. The daughter looks like a 10 year old child though she is actually 25 years old.

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We found the children to be well disciplined and patiently waiting for their food plates to be served. The Akkas first served the food to the children who can eat on their own and then started feeding the children who are unable to eat on their own. We realized these Akkas form the backbone of the orphanage and deserved to be recognized more. They are totally committed to their work and treat the children with kindness and love. They can easily find employment elsewhere for a better salary. They work with the children, because they love their work and want to be with the children.

When the children finished their lunch, we first discussed among ourselves and then talked to the manager. We wanted to know how we could help them and make a bigger contribution. The Manager of the orphanage is Thillaka de Kretser, the wife of Bryan de Kretser , the person who started this orphanage. Thillaka explained the various expenses they have to bear to maintain the orphanage. The Government is not giving any money. They have to totally depend on the donations from various organizations and individuals. Providing food to the children is only a small part of their expenses. The monthly electricity bill alone comes to Re 52000.00 which is a little less than $ 500.00. They have to clean the clothes of all the children in industrial washing machines on ac daily basis. This consumes a large amount of energy and the monthly bill is very high. They have started many other projects such as renovating some of the buildings and road ways to the orphanage. We can make a small contribution to any of those projects. Workers are paid a very nominal salary, but their total monthly salary package is something they find hard to meet.

Our group had a discussion among ourselves and decided on two things. We could make a reasonable contribution to the administration of the orphanage. We also should give something to the workers to recognize their work and show our appreciation. There were twenty five workers in all and we decided to give each worker a small gift of Rs1000.00. We also decided to pay one of their monthly electricity bills which is nearly $500.00. The manager organized to get all the workers lined up and Mala gave each worker a Rs 1000.00 note. We could see the signs of happiness on their face. More than the money, it is rare for outsiders to recognize the good work done by the workers.

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We came back to our hotel in the evening knowing we have done something good. It was an eye opening experience for all of us. When we travel, we stay in expensive hotels, move with affluent tourists and rarely see what is happening in the outside world. Today we saw a totally different side of the people who live in this country. We saw the innocent children who have been abandoned and discarded by their parents living in a confined place. We saw the female workers doing a thankless job looking after these abandoned children, for a very small salary.

Posted by fernando65 19:19 Comments (0)

Visiting my Native country

One Week in Colombo

26 °C

Sri Lanka is our native land. Most of our relations still live there. Sri Lanka has and will always have a special place in our heart. We have been travelling to different parts of the world, but visiting Sri Lanka is special. It is like coming home.
My youngest daughter Malisha was invited for her best friend's wedding to be one of the bridesmaids. The young couple , though living in Australia, decided to have their wedding in Sri Lanka. It was a good enough excuse for us to plan a month long trip to Sri Lanka.

booked our flights through Emirates leaving Sydney on the 29th of December and returning to Sydney on the 26th of January.
The flight to Dubai was a very comfortable flight. Emirates always serve good food. The only complaint was that the flight was too long taking 14 hours.
Our connection from Dubai to Colombo got slightly delayed. We arrived in Colombo airport around 3:30pm.

We normally stay in Cinnamon Grand Hotel when we are in Colombo. This time we decided to make a change and stay in a rented apartment. We booked a three bed room apartment in Emperor building in Colombo 3 for one week. Emperor building is one of the new apartment buildings next to the Cinnamon Grand hotel. The complex has high security, its own pool and a gym. In addition, you can make use of all the facilities that belongs to the Cinnamon Grand hotel. My daughter and her friend came to Colombo on the 26th to get ready for the wedding function. They have been staying at the Cinnamon Grand hotel. On the day we arrived in Colombo, they checked out of the hotel and came to our apartment.

We can recommend this apartment as a very good alternative to staying in a hotel. You need to book it for a minimum period of one week. The main advantage in staying in an Apartment is the privacy you enjoy. Most of the Emperor apartments enjoy good panoramic views . There are two private balconies. The kitchen is small, but has all the required cooking utensils. There is a short back path to the Cinnamon Grand hotel foyer . We can invite our visitors to the apartments or we have a second choice of inviting them to the hotel foyer. There is a small supermarket and a few eating places in the basement of the hotel. We can use them or we can order our food from the hotel.

Posted by fernando65 17:36 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

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