ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 34
Financial Times  

Helping Sri Lankan students in Australia

Believing in giving back what she got from life, Surani Punchihewa, who with her husband runs a very successful business of migration consultancy to Australia, is offering scholarships to deserving students from the Ceylon – German Technical Institute, the Automobile Engineering Training Institute (AETI), Orugodawatta and the NAITA-ATI (Moratuwa).

Punchihewa, who has many academic qualifications, attributes her success to the education she received. “My tertiary education was completed in Japan on scholarships,” she said during a visit to Colombo last week. And since the business she runs with her husband has established her financially, she and her husband allocate Rs 500,000 annually to a scholarship fund. Punchihewa invites other organisations or individuals to help her in this good cause.

“I hope my charity will grow into a bigger foundation that could assist many in need,” she said.

Having started her career as a teacher in Japanese language in Melbourne, she was also appointed the co-ordinator of the Japanese programme of that school, leading the Japanese team despite being a non- national in Japan.

From there, she joined Wesley College, a prestigious private school in Melbourne.

After five years of teaching, Punchihewa joined her husband who had by then started to work as a migration consultant. With both husband and wife working together, the business grew and Punchihewa obtained her license to practice as a migration consultant. Combining her knowledge of Japanese, Sinhala and migration law, she built her practice dealing predominantly with Japanese clients who were seeking migration to Australia.

While their business deals solely with families seeking permanent residence in Australia, the husband and wife duo also helps Sri Lankan students who get into trouble with the immigration authorities. This is done free of charge and not as part of the business. They offer legal advice to these students, but she added that they cannot act on behalf of the students as they do not legally represent them.

Punchihewa has a huge clientele in Sri Lanka as well and she visits Sri Lanka many times a year to meet with her clients personally as it helps to build trust she said. Punchihewa and her husband will be having free information sessions about migrating to Australia on January 14 at the Galle Face Hotel.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.