Guides on health mission in Sri Lanka

By Megara Tegal

When we think of helping the less fortunate, it’s usually ‘food’ and ‘shelter’ that springs to mind. But what about giving those who are less fortunate a chance at better health? The Sri Lanka Girl Guide Association (SLGGA) has done just that with their ‘Health Camp’ and ‘Eye Camp’ projects which were set in motion in November of 2007.

Over the past three years the SLGGA has helped well over 10,000 less fortunate people under this single project. When the Guides first took on the project they carried out a survey to find out what diseases are prevalent in the low income areas of Kirulapone. What they discovered was not just shocking cases of malnutrition, skin disease, diabetes and impaired vision, but appalling living conditions that only increased people's risk of falling ill.

Deeply moved by what they saw the Guides immediately put the project into effect by publicizing the ‘health camp’, finding doctors who were willing to lend their services free of charge for the camp, and getting in touch with several charity organisations which provided them with the medicines for the health camp and spectacle frames for the eye camp.

The first project being highly successful, the Guides decided to expand their project and conduct the health camp in the low income areas of Wellawatte, Mattakuliya, Mattegoda, Maharagama, Dematagoda, Nagaswatta and Sidathpora.

The guides also arranged for an Ayurvedic camp in Maharagama which was much appreciated by people of the area though the cost of the camp was too high for it to be conducted elsewhere. The Ayurveda camp was funded by the Deshiya Ayurveda Waidhyawarun Rekagenume Sanvidhanaya. Medicines for the health camps and spectacle frames for the eye camp were funded by the Siyasaviya Community Development Foundation and the Bodhi Ranasinghe Foundation.

Under the guidance of their Guide Captain at 11th Colombo, Mrs. Dhammika Dharmarathne, the girls were able to give the needy medical attention they wouldn’t normally have access to. Those who were diagnosed with severe medical conditions were directed to the Kalubowila hospital.

Dhammika recalls, a disabled soldier who was directed to the hospital for physiotherapy and several people who were able to get cataract surgery after their medical examination at the camps. “Those who had the cataract operations became more independent as they didn’t need to rely on anyone as they did before the operation,” she says.

The SLGGA wishes to continue the project to reach those in other regions but funding is a stumbling block. “The projects are dependent on funding,” says Shaleeka Abeygunasekera, SLGGA Director of Communications, adding, “there are organisations that have the funds and are keen on helping but they lack the manpower and the reach.

That’s what the SLGGA has but we lack the funds. So if we work together we will be more effective.” Those who wish to help the SLGGA with this project are welcome to contact the SLGGA headquarters on 0112695720 or email slgga@gmail.com

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