A holistic rural development model that seeks to bridge the gap between the urban and rural communities in Sri Lanka via 10 empowerment divisions across 900+ villages island-wide reaching over 68,000+ beneficiaries annually, free of cost.
At a time of national emergency, in early June 2021, Senior Medical Officer, Dr. Upul Ranasinghe from the Bandarawela Hospital saw a rising wave of Covid patients in the Uva Province and he felt the hospitals would be ill equipped to handle.
He reached out with a desperate appeal for help to Dr. Nalaka Mendis (Emeritus Professor, Colombo University) who immediately responded by calling on Dr. Naj Nagendran (Foundation of Goodness- USA) and gathering together a like-minded collective of humanitarians from Sri Lanka and overseas including Mr. Manik Jayakumar (Q Trade Teas & Herbs), Mr. Felix Stephen ((Volunteers to Assist Children with Disabilities Limited), Mr. S. Skandakumar (Oru Paanai Trust- SL & USA) , Mr. Kushil Gunasekera (Foundation of Goodness) and Dr. Erosha Premaratne (Australia Sri Lanka Medical Aid Team) to raise funds urgently, in order to upgrade Covid treatment facilities at hospitals in the Uva Province as soon as possible, in order to save lives.
With the number of Covid related deaths rising day by day and images of struggling patients sleeping on the ground outside overflowing hospital wards filling the news, the initial focus of the group was to quickly upgrading the Covid facilities at the Bandarawela Hospital where its capacity was increased from 50 beds to 300. Having acted fast to complete the first phase, the group was overwhelmed to hear Dr. Roshan Piyarathna, Covid physician for Bandarawela Hospital, say “Thanks to your donations the hospital was able to treat and discharge over 1500 positive patients”.
Further motivated by this, acting with those who rose to the occasion in an unprecedented manner, more funds were raised to extend the same help to five additional hospitals in Uva Province- Huputale, Haldumulla, Diyatalawa, Koslanda and Welimada Hospitals.
A combined contribution worth over Rs. 26 million was made by this group to upgrade the hospital facilities in Uva Province which not only made a crucial impact on the treatment delivered during the pandemic under life or death circumstances, but will also hold the hospitals in good stead long after we have overcome the pandemic.
The heartfelt words from doctors at the Koslanda Hospital who noted that this was a significant donation in the 100 years of the hospital’s history when they have been struggling to provide the best possible care with insufficient equipment and technology, truly dove home the importance of this contribution, especially given that it was a matter of private individuals and organisations stepping up to help their fellow brethren in difficult times. This was a true demonstration of the ability of a humane group to alleviate the hardships of rural disadvantaged communities battling against the fear of a disastrous pandemic.
This project was delivered so successfully because of the support from the College of Internal Medicine lead by President Dr. Harsha Sathischandra who took on the responsibility to disburse the funds and oversee the purchase of equipment and its Treasurer, Dr. Priyamali Jayasekera’s voluntary role, in spite of the heavy demands on her time in her official duties was highly appreciated in fund utilization and equipment purchase while providing detailed information of the process for absolute transparency.
Dr. Janitha Tennekoon- Provincial Director, Dr. Leelananda Gallage- DMO Bandarawela, and Dr. Roshan Piyarathna- physician in charge of the Covid unit, facilitated the process, at the Bandarawela Hospital as well as Dr. U M M Pushpalatha – MD, Welimada Hospital, Dr. Ranjith Amarakone – MS, Diyatalawa Hospital, Dr. Sanjeeva Samaraweera – DMO, Haputale Hospital, Dr. Vichithra Rathnayake – DMO, Haldumulla Hospital and Dr. Niroshan Thaminidu – DMO, Koslanda Hospital were invaluable in coordinating these efforts and successfully completing this endeavour.
We record with sadness and regret the passing away of one of our amiable donors Eddie Wijesuriya, during this exercise.
When difficulties arise, at most times there is a light at the end of the tunnel and one of the positive outcomes of this disastrous pandemic was that rural hospitals got upgraded unexpectedly, enhancing their facilities, which means that outstation hospitals especially in remote areas will be better equipped now to serve the needs of disadvantaged communities- a setback turned in to a blessing!
When we open the doors of our hearts to compassion, humility, generosity and unity, blessings accrue for the good of mankind with the future in mind.