24th August 1997


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Help save this baby

ChamilaChamila Dilhani of Saranapala Himi Mawatha, Borella has to undergo urgent surgery at the Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases, Madras Medical Mission Hospital.

She has been diagnosed as having AV Canal defect with pulmonar hypertension. The child needs Cardiac Catheterisation and Surgical Correction.This life saving measure would cost over Rs. 450,000/-. Around Rs. 300,000 has been already received.

With the noble expectation of helping this patient, The Lions Club of Wellawatte West initiated a fund opening up a Savings Account at the People's Bank, Y. M. B. A. Building, Borella, Savings Account No. 0078 207 0676174. Donations are welcome.

Surgery abroad has been recommended by Dr. D. P. Atukorale, Senior Consultant Cardiologist of the Institute of Cardiology, General Hospital, Colombo.

Devi Balika gets hostel for school students

It was a dream come true for the Past Pupils Association of Devi Balika School. Their long cherished dream of a hostel for schoolgirls coming from distant villages has at last been fulfilled. The Devi Balika Hostel will be ceremonially opened at 'Sarana', Bauddhaloka Mawatha on the 27th August. "One must always have a dream or a vision. Only then can it become a reality", said Mrs. Venitia Gamage, Chairperson of the Hostel Committee.

A past pupil of the school as well a teacher for 18 years, Ms. Gamage says that the need for a hostel has been felt for a long time. "We have been working towards this since the tenth anniversary of the school in 1963".

Devi Balika Maha Vidyalaya at Castle Street is a much sought after National School which conducts classes from Year six up to the Advanced Level. As Mrs. Indira Sandaratne, deputy president of the P.P.A. explained, 80% of the students are scholars. Girls from the less affluent strata of society from remote areas of Sri Lanka gain admission to Devi Balika School at Year 6, on their performance at the Government Year 5 Scholarship Examination. Over the years, the school authorities have found girls who suffer untold hardships due to lack of suitable boarding facilities. Many parents of children who come from remote areas can ill afford the high fees charged by boarding houses and private residences in and around Colombo. As a result they have to board their children further away in places such as Kalutara and Panadura. The parents have to bear the burden of accommodation and transport costs as well.

In their anxiety to attend National Schools, the financially under privileged children from remote backward areas face many traumatic problems. Away from their homes and parental care, they face various situations in their boarding houses and in travelling long distances to and from school. One can imagine the plight of a little girl of eleven years, boarded twelve miles off Panadura. who has to take three buses to come to school each morning. Trying to adapt to city life, in an environment vastly different from their accustomed village homes, they are often overcome by fear, loneliness and much distress. Alone in a boarding house, they have no one to turn to in times of need.

At a medical clinic conducted regularly by the past pupils it has been found that many of these girls suffer from various psychological problems. There have even been occasions when students have had to give up their education. It was thus felt that a hostel within or close to the school, which provided a congenial atmosphere conducive to study, was an urgent need.

The opening of the hostel is therefore a great satisfaction to the past pupils and the Principal of the school, Mrs. Kalyani Lakshman, who have all worked tirelessly over the project. Their first attempts at building a hostel within the school premises was not successful since the Master Plan for the school apparently had no provision for a hostel. They next drew up plans for a hostel to be built at Rajagiriya, but this too faced obstacles. Finally, they have been fortunate in securing the Sarana Home off Bauddhaloka Mawatha. They are thankful to a philanthropist Mrs. Pushpa Hewavitharana of the Daya Hewavitharana Trust who willingly gave over the Sarana property which was held by the Trust on a 99 year lease.

Although the entire premises can accommodate about 200 students, due to the limited resources of the PPA, a section of the building has been renovated. The rear section will be renovated by the Education Department at a latter date. Initially, forty students have been selected. The Principal Mrs. Lakshman explained that the selection has been made on a point scale, taking into account the distance they travel, their family background, financial difficulties and so on. Funds for renovating the building have been raised from past pupils of the school in response to individual letters of appeal sent out by the Chairperson of the Hostel Committee. "Our past pupils are doing very well and having good posts.

They have achieved these positions due to what they received from the school. They owe something to the school", Mrs. Gamage said. "We are grateful for their ready response". The School Development Society has also donated Rs. 100,000 which is being used to purchase beds. Parents have been most helpful with the renovation work. The Committee have also received donations from some private sector organisations.

Mrs. Gamage says they still need whatever assistance they can get to cover the running costs such as electricity, water, gas, wages and so on until the government takes over the running.

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