Diaspora Lanka has hit a snag. Since July last year the Government Agent of Mannar (GA), Urban Council Mannar (UCM), the Assistant Commissioner Local Government (ACLG) and the Urban Development Authority (UDA), key partners for the past two years, now want DL to gain formal approval from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) before they will continue to work with us. Diaspora Lanka wrote to the PTF in 2011 seeking this approval. In a lengthy phone response, the PTF Secretary informed us that we did not need their approval for our activities because we worked through local agencies, and if project approval was required, the local entity would naturally seek that. Now the rules seem to have changed and DL is in the process of gaining such approval.
Activities summary from the last visit to Sri Lanka
• Presidential Advisor on Reconciliation Prof Rajiva Wijesinha and Jeremy met with Mr Divaratne, PTF Secretary, about the matter of formal approval. He would like DL to establish a formal relationship with the UDA to streamline and make more efficient our work with government. Mr Diva also rang the new GA, arranging an appointment for DL to meet him.
• DL met with the UDA Chairman who directed the UDA Head of Business and Jeremy to draft an MoU between the UDA and DL. The document was written the next day, discussed at a directors’ meeting and forwarded to the UDA’s legal section. A letter of request along with requested registration papers were also provided by DL.
• A follow up visit and phone calls were made requesting formal approval by the UDA and PTF.
• Write to the UDA Chairman and request he inform DL of the progress of the MoU.
• Write to the GA of Mannar seeking his help in expediting the finalization of the MoU.
Without the signing of the MoU by the UDA and written approval from the PTF, Diaspora Lanka’s more strategic work is currently in a holding pattern.
Security Force Jaffna (SF-J), in one of its community welfare projects has planned to provide hearing aids to civilians in the North in collaboration with local and foreign donor agencies. As the first pace, a two day medical camp was held on 9th and 10th June to select the needy persons at the Civil Affairs and Public Relations Office on Hospital Road, Jaffna. A large number of civilians had come from Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu districts out of which 663 civilians identified as most needy were selected in the first stage. This number includes 59 schoolchildren.
“Starkey” Hearing Aids Manufactures of the US provides necessary hearing aids to the Army with coordination of Synergen Health (Pvt) Ltd. of Nugegoda. Army expects to provide hearing aids to 2000 civilians with auditory defects by November this year.
The 4th Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps (4 SLAMC) organized the medical camp.
Commanding Officer 4 SLAMC Major Sidath Amarasekara, Second in Command Palaly Army hospital Captain Prabhaswari Wijekoon and Army medical soldiers assisted Mr. Akil Chavuhan and Sai Kiran Sathyanarayana, audiologists of Starkey – India, Managing Director Synergen Health (Pvt) Ltd. Mr. Denvor Fernando and his staff to conduct the medical camp.
Wickramaarchchi Opticians, Vision Care and Teaching Hospital Jaffna supported the programme conducting audiogram test for patients.
Mannar Island had more than 70 ponds (“kulam”: sizeable water bodies) that were the natural drainage system for the low-lying island. Successive governments and residents encroached upon the ponds, filling them in for the construction of housing. The result has been serious annual flooding throughout the urban area. The remaining dozen or more ponds are mostly polluted and disused. The proposal was to rehabilitate the ponds and transform them into attractive recreational precincts in a town with little open and recreational space.
In partnership with the Urban Council, the volunteers conducted several community meetings with the many pond and foreshore project stakeholders. For the pond these were: St Xavier’s Catholic Boy’s School principal, staff and students, Hindu residents, Muslim mosque members and local residents. For the foreshore development these were: local traders, fisheries officers and fishermen, and Mosque trustees.
Several meetings were held with the staff and engineers of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) resulting in an agreement that Diaspora Lanka’s planners will be responsible for designs for the Nedunkulam Pond based on community wishes and that UNOPS will fund and undertake the earthworks, drainage and landscaping. If successful, this partnership will be extended to cover the rehabilitation of two additional ponds.
Consultation with Moor St Mosque community
The planners completed their pond designs, which were welcomed by most of the community. Regrettably, late in the piece, the school, which borders the pond, withdrew its support as it wants to capitalize on any lands nearby for future school expansion. The Government Agent of Mannar has decreed that all ponds in Mannar come under the jurisdiction of the Urban Council which wants the ponds project to proceed. The Lands Officers of the District Secretariat are willing to ensure the project goes ahead. Further negotiations are now needed.
The 7th Battalion Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps (SLAWC), as a helping hand for unemployed widows to start a livelihood, gave training on making of hand bags. The training programme was organized by the Commanding Officer 7 SLAWC Major Chandrika Rajaguru assisted by her staff officers at J / Vasavilan Madya Maha Vidyalaya on Monday (23) morning to coincide with the World Widows’ Day.
Thirty six of Jaffna widows and thirty three of Sinhalese widows from the South attended the progeamme to get a comprehensive knowledge on making of bags at low cost. This was a good opportunity for women from the North and the South to share ideas and experience of life.
Ms Kamala Lojini, District Coordinator for Women Development-Jaffna assisted the Army by educating the participants through lectures and practical sessions during the workshop which will help them start a self employment
Ms Kanthi Kesu Pushpakala of Meesalai East, Ms Christy Kaushalya of Nallur and Ms W.M. Ranmenike of Dambulla addressed the gathering to share their experiences.
Principal of J / Vasavilan Madya Maha Vidyalaya Mr. T.V. Jeyanthan also extended his assistance to the programme.
4.1 Mannarin Marumalarchi 2022 (the renaissance of Mannar)
Prabakaran, Town Planner, NPPD
In late 2011, Diaspora Lanka and the Urban Council Mannar (UC) instigated a community visioning program to identify a people-centred plan for Mannar City for the next 10 years. Based on the major themes that emerged from the MM22 consultations, eight subcommittees were established to implement the plan: town planning, environment, eco-tourism, business development, education, community programs, women’s development and finance.
Due to the resignation in June, 2013 of the staff person responsible for the MM22 project, there has been little follow-up of the committees. The most active committee has been the Town Planning group which has worked consistently throughout that time. For the Mannar Urban Council to really take ownership of this program, DL will possibly need to fund a worker within the Council. Steps have been put in place to build up the following subcommittees in the next few months: education, business and eco-tourism.
Identifying “foreshore” issues
• Write a letter to existing members to determine their ongoing level of commitment to their chosen subcommittee.
• Recruit new members to the three highlighted subcommittees.
How you can help
• Help support one of the three subcommittees by providing expertise in the following areas: town planning, eco-tourism, business development and education.
Jaffna soldiers received a massive public response and support in the grand Shramadana campaign organized by Security Force Jaffna (SF-J) to eradicate polythene, plastics and other waste materials in order to prevent environment pollution in Jaffna on Saturday (07). During this one day eco-friendly programme organized to mark the International Environment Day, soldiers representing all Divisions, Brigades and Battalions under the Headquarters SF-J collected and destroyed plastic and polythene wastes and empty containers posing threat to the health and environment problems.
A large number of civilians volunteered to join the Shramadana campaign conducted by the Army all over the peninsula on directives of Commander SF-J Major General Udaya Perera.
Earlier on 5th June, SF – J organized a bicycle tour from Navatkuly, Atchuvely, Maviddapuram and Vasavilan to Durayappah stadium to educate the public on the International Environment Day.
Commander Security Force Jaffna (SF – J) Major General Udaya Perera said that language has the power to build unity among the communities. So Sinhalese must learn Tamil and Tamils must learn Sinhalese.
He expressed these ideas attending a ceremony to distribute awards and certificates to 1122 soldiers who successfully completed a Tamil Language Course conducted by the Headquarters Security Force Jaffna (SF – J). During ceremony organized at Kankesanthurai on Thursday (05) evening, 12 officers and 1110 other ranks received certificates and awards according to their order of merit obtained in the tests conducted at the end of the course.
Exhibiting their language proficiency, students of Course No. 1 and Course No 2 presented playlet for the entertainment of the audience comprising distinguished guests.
To facilitate easy and uninterrupted communication with civilians in performing duties, Security Force Jaffna, on concept of the Commander SF – J Major General Udaya Perera, has planned to give Tamil language training to all officers and men serving in Jaffna.
Professional in the field of language teaching in Jaffna and soldiers who were trained at the Army Tamil Language Training school, Kotmale conducted lectures.
Rev. D.S. Rathnasabapathipillai Kurukkal of Maviddapuram Sri Skantha Temple, Vicar General Jaffna Rev. Fr. Dr. Justin P. Gnanaprakasam, Government Agent Jaffna Mr. S. Arumainayagam and Ms Agnes Asekenye Oonyu, Head, UN Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs also joined Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera in awarding certificates.
DAH Addalaichenai ward complex was ceremonially opened by Hon. Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem on 01.06.2014.
Hon. Provincial Minister of Health MIM Mansoor, Hon. Members of Provincial council ALM Nazer, AAM Jameel, ALM Thavam, Hon. Chairman of Pradeshiya sabha Addalaichennai, other Hon. Parliament and Hon. Provincial Council Members, Dr.(Mrs.) Srithar, Provincial Commissioner of Indigenous Medicine, Dr Alavudeen, Regional Director of Health Services, Kalmunai, Mr. Firnas, Assistant Secretary, officials from Ayurvedic & health department, medical officers and staff also participated at this event.