Maloney visits Sri Lanka

President Mark Maloney visits the state of the art ‘Ayathi Center’ – a centre of excellence and one of the best of its kind in South Asia, set up by Rotary and its partners.

President Mark Maloney was in Sri Lanka to inaugurate the audiology section of the Ayathi Center operated by the Ayathi Trust which is a joint collaboration with Rotary and others.
Ayathi meaning ‘Hope’ is a charitable trust established by the joint collaboration between the University of Colombo, Hemas Holdings PLC,  MAS Holdings Pvt. Ltd. and Rotary Sri Lanka. Both Hemas and MAS are blue chip business conglomerates of Sri Lanka.
The objective of the Trust is to improve the quality of life of children with physical and mental disabilities.  Previously Sri Lanka did not have a national level facility to address the needs of these children. And the reality of parents with such children is extremely distressing. “Every mother wants their child to live for 100 year or more… but in our case we want our child to die at least an hour before our death” says one.  Says another “I carry my son 3 Km to  bring him to your center.  Still the bus doesn’t stop because my son looks evil… it is a bad omen for everyone to see him in the morning… For me he is the most treasured gem…”

The USD 3m center will provide services free of charge and will spread across a two-acre land with a 42,000 sq. Ft floor area. It is expected to be one of the finest such centers in South Asia.
The University of Colombo made available the land. The Sri Lanka Army built the premises in 13 months, with two major cash infusions of USD 600,000 each from the two companies named above. Both these companies have members of Rotary in their main board. Rotary Colombo West made available equipment with Rotary Foundation global grants valued at approximately USD 400,000 with DDF support from districts in India and USA. There were other smaller contributions.
The Faculty of Medicine, of the University would absorb all the operational and maintenance costs. It will provide trained professionals in the field of disability studies.  The areas covered extend to all disabilities (physical &mental) with initial screening and interventions that will include Speech & Language Therapy, Audiology, Physiotherapy, Family Therapy, Occupational Therapy etc. It will also provide the support and guidance for parents / caregivers. The center already has registered outdoor patients (children) nationwide numbering over 5000.
20% of Sri Lankan children were affected by disabilities. 1 in 93 have been diagnosed as autistic As in other developing countries cerebral palsy affects 2-5% of children.
RI President Maloney said “here is a great example of Rotary connecting different organizations together with Rotarians of the world, to come up with an outstanding world class center for children with mental disabilities. What a proud day for Rotary”.
PRIP Ravindran – incoming TRF Chair explained that this was the type of projects that the new projects of scale launching next year would try to emulate. “This program will challenge Rotary Clubs to think big and approach copartners and sponsors to join them in a comprehensive solution to major issues, the benefits of which reach a large section of population. In this case the whole country will be served”

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