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