It is a moving story, a 13-year journey, overcoming numerous challenges finally leading to a parent with a daughter with Down Syndrome, being able to educate her at a private school in Colombo in a mainstream class.
Education had been the biggest challenge among many others, with rejection by most school authorities being the common experience for parent and Attorney-at-Law Chanaka de Silva who explained why he insisted on mainstream schooling for her. "I learnt to stand in a queue, how to handle bullies, to interact with friends. I wanted the very same for my daughter and today looking back I think I achieved that," said Mr. de Silva on behalf of thousands of children with Down Syndrome and their parents.
Urging the medical profession to develop guidelines to improve the lives of these children, Mr. de Silva told a symposium to mark World Down Syndrome Day on March 21 that from the time their daughter was born their lives had been in turmoil. They were given minimum instructions to look after their newborn who required special care and intervention. She had to undergo several surgical procedures including open heart surgery and palatal surgery. While some relatives, friends and medical professionals were helpful and supportive others were not, he pointed out, stressing the need to tell these parents the reality, gently but explicitly.
If the child is described as being mentally retarded who would only be suitable for menial work as adults, it would give a negative impression and hinder the role parents have to play in the subsequent care of the child, Mr. de Silva said, adding that all workers in the health-care setting including the minor staff should be educated on the need to respect these families.
The symposium was organised by the Working Group on Disability of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) in collaboration with the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians at the SLMA's Lionel Memorial Auditorium at Wijerama Mawatha.
The session was chaired by SLMA's President-elect for 2013, Dr. B.J.C. Perera while the panel of speakers also included the President of the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians, Prof. Asvini Fernando who is also Associate Professor in Paediatrics at the Kelaniya Medical Faculty; Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Colombo Medical Faculty, Prof. Hemantha Senanayake and two special education teachers Indira Athurupana and Sharmini Seneviratne.
Prof. Asvini Fernando reiterated the importance of early intervention to improve outcomes and presented a scheme to optimize care for children with Down Syndrome. Citing examples of children who have done well in life despite their disability due to the motto "they can do it", she also stressed the need to improve the skills of doctors not only to ensure proper clinical management but also to break the news to parents in a humane manner when a baby with Down Syndrome is born.
Discussing the role of the Obstetrician, Prof. Hemantha Senanayake pointed out the ante-natal diagnostic procedures available in the country to identify a foetus with Down Syndrome. Urging the development of national guidelines on how medical staff should break the news to couples whose foetus is detected with Down Syndrome during pregnancy or when they get a baby with Down Syndrome, he said it is vital for parents to be provided up-to-date information.
Earlier, opening the session, the Chairperson of the Working Group on Disability, Dr. Lalith Wijayaratne underscored the need to identify the strengths of this population and work harder to empower them and Dr. B.J.C. Perera assured that steps would be taken to facilitate the proper care of such children. Dr. Samanmali Sumanasena coordinated the programme.
Aptly showing off their strengths, there was a beautiful dance performance by the children of the Kosala Dullewa Foundation.
Singapore cruise liner hosts top Rotarians
The Presidents-Elect Training Seminar 2012 (PETS) aboard the cruise liner Superstar Virgo in Singapore brought together Rotarians and resource persons under the banner 'Peace through Service', which is the theme for Rotary International this year.
Convened by the District Governor, the meeting of Club-president elects covered a range of topics including roles and responsibilities, working with the club and district members, administration, membership, service projects, PR, and goal setting among others.
The gala one-and-a-half day seminar aboard the Star Cruises ship also saw the participation of the spouses. Among the distinguished panel of speakers were tax consultant and past district governor N. R. Gajendran, past president and MD of HNB Rajendra Theagarajah. Dushan Soza - MD, WNS Global Services (Pvt) Ltd., and Nalin Jayasuriya - MD of MC-Quire Rens Consulting (Pvt) Ltd.
District Governor Elect Dharshan John and District Secretary George Jesuthasan were also present.
A number of district officials including secretary and treasurer elect and a selection of assistant governors were also present. The confab also saw the election of club presidents for districts in Sri Lanka as well as the appointment of Rotarians to the positions of secretary and treasurer for the respective cities and districts for 2012.
RI District 3220 now consists of 58 clubs with a membership of 1,612 Rotarians, 1,500 Rotaractors and some 2,500 Interactors across Sri Lanka. Actively engaged in a series of community service projects RI District 3220 continues to focus on providing priority focus on water and sanitation, literacy and education, new generations, mother and child health care and peace and conflict resolution/prevention.
Eminent educationists felicitated
The Education Ministry of Sri Lanka, The Sri Lanka Foundation and the Organization of Education administrative officers felicitated 12 eminent educationists of the era between 1948 and the 1990's at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in Colombo 7. The Chief Guest at this ceremony was Minister of Education Bandula Gunawardena who gave away the awards for Service Excellence in Education.
Well known Sri Lankan educationist and former UNESCO, UN/FAO andCommonwealth Secretariat education expert Dr. Uvais Ahamed, was among those who received this prestigious award and recognition. Others felicitated at this ceremony were educationists Dr P.Udagama and E.L.Wijemanne who served as Secretaries of the Ministry of Education; Bogoda Premaratne, former Principal of Royal College Colombo and Commissioner of Examination; K.D.Ariyadasa Additional Director General of Education; Dr. Thrilokasundari Kariyawasam and Mr D.A.Perera, former Director Generals of The National Institute of Education; George Mendis, Dr. E.J. Sathgunaraja and Miss Kamala Pieris, Directors of Education; and A. Wedamulla, former Commissioner General of Examination.
A Dhuni Pooja and a Bhajan Kirtan with Indian artists
A Dhuni Pooja and a Bhajan Kirtan will be held at the Sai Centre at 22, Barnes Place, Colombo-7 on April 14 commencing 5.30 a.m. and will continue till 12.30 p.m.
The Dhuni pooja will be conducted by Sh.Vikas Mehta and Sh.C.Ghaneshan while the Aarti will be conducted by Sh. Parmod Medhi. The same day Bhajans will be held at the Ramakrishna Hall at Wellawatta from 5 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. by various artists from India and Sai organizations in Sri Lanka including Sh.RaviRaj Nasery, Sh.Parmod Medhu, Sh.Mukesh Saxena, Sh.Amit Saxena and Smt.Poonam Khanna. The event is organized by the Bagwan Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust of Sri Lanka and Chairman, Sri Sai Prerna Trust, New Delhi Vijay Maingi. It is supported by Sai Leela Times, U.P., India.
Daily Easter egg hunt at Triumph
Triumph will celebrate the spirit of Easter with an Easter Egg Hunt starting from today, April 8 to 10. Customers at Triumph stores can enjoy their shopping while indulging in some delicious Easter Eggs. All Triumph Exclusive stores will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Shoppers will be given the opportunity of winning gift vouchers courtesy of Triumph.
A daily Easter Egg hunt will take place and one lucky winner will walk away with a voucher worth Rs. 2,000 from Triumph. An Easter egg will be hidden in store and the customers will be invited to find the concealed Easter egg and the first to discover it during the course of the day will receive the gift voucher.
See www.triumph.com/lk for more
Top chef Michal Konrad brings Pan Asian cuisine to Jetwing Hotels
Jetwing is featuring a world renowned chef to cook up a veritable storm-for-your-tastebuds 7 course dinner at three of their luxurious properties this April.
Chef Michal Konrad of Slovakia will be featuring his own unique touch to Pan Asian cuisine at Jetwing Beach, Jetwing Lighthouse and Jetwing Vil Uyana, all members of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Hailed as being revolutionary in his ideas and dishes, Chef Michal boasts a wealth of experience at famed restaurants such as Cocoon, Kyashii, and Chino Latino in London as well as currently being the Head Chef of Bratislava's premier Pan Asian restaurant, Fou Zoo.
For more information regarding Chef Michal's visit, as well as inquiries on how to join the dinners, please call Jetwing Beach on 031 2273500, Jetwing Vil Uyana on 066 2286001, and Jetwing Lighthouse 091 2224017.
Avurudu ceremonies at the Sri Dalada Maligawa through the ages
The national ceremony for anointing oil after the Sinhala and Hindu New Year will be held at Natha Devale this year. A brief look at the importance of Natha Devale would bring out that Natha Devale was the centre of activities even in the past.
The Avurudu festival which forms one of the four great festivals of the Sri Dalada Maligawa is conducted according to the rites and rituals that have passed down through the years, since the Sacred Tooth Relic was at Senkadapura. This ritual forms the base of the Avurudu celebrations.
The ceremony begins with the distribution of the 'nanu ' to Natha Devale, the Devale of God Natha who is believed to be the next Buddha. The nanu or the perfumed oils are prepared at the Sri Dalada Maligawa and taken first to the Natha Devale for distribution to the other four Devales for the 'Nanumur Mangalaya', after the New Year festival. This is done three or four days before the festival. 'Nanu oil' is made of sandalwood paste and 14 other medicinal herbs.
After the 'nanu' has been delivered to the Natha Devale, the Maligawa officials prepare for the Avurudu festival. In ancient times, it was the Sri Dalada Maligawa that announced the times of the Sinhala New Year drawn up by the 'Nekath Rala'. The announcement would travel through the country, especially the Kandyan Kingdom. The person to whom all the activities are entrusted during this period is the 'Kariya Karawana Korale', the very name itself signifying his position. The Kariya Korale, then orders the ten villages involved with these ceremonies to clean the Maligawa, bring the pots, milk and other needs for these ceremonies. Now though the names of the villages are in the books, no one seems to take any interest and it has become more or less a paid employment.
The huge bowls found in the 'Sadum Kudama' or sandalwood area of the Maligawa are used during Aluth Sal Mangalaya and also during Vesak.
The most important function during Sinhala New Year is the boiling of milk, placed right in front of the main entrance or the golden door to the inner Chamber. This is right in line with the 'Maha Gabadawa' or store house. The next is at the entrance to the ' Palle Mahala ' or ground floor. This is done on New Year's Day and the boiled milk is scatted around the Sri Dalada. The sound of the Magul Bera indicates that a special function is to be enacted and that is the bathing of the Sacred Tooth Relic known as 'Khantasnanoya'. This ritual is not open to anyone, other than those who are serving within the Inner Chamber. This is also a form of ‘Nanumura ' but only confined to 'Aluth Avurudda'.
The 'Kavikara Maduwa' or the house of poets commences with a mini Perahera around the central building, known as 'Vatahewisi'. The Sangha who are in the Inner Shrine room perform the rites of bathing the Sacred Tooth Relic, with the already prepared herbal water. This water is first poured over a Brazen Mirror. Then perfumed water is poured over the same mirror and the ceremony ends. The herbal water and the perfumed water are rarely given to anyone. With this ceremony ends the Kavikara Maduwa singing, the beat of the Magul Bera and the Hewisi.
The Khantasnanoya and the boiling of milk or "Kiri-eterima " is a simultaneous process. Meanwhile the cooks of the 'Multenna' or cooking area prepare the dana that would be offered to the Sacred Tooth Relic at the normal times as 'multhan dana'. If the day falls on a Wednesday or Saturday, then Nanumura Mangalaya would also be held.
Though few are aware of their significance, these traditional ceremonies continue at the Sri Dalada Maligawa.