‘Nobody’s’ children together again

Separated by a court order, but united by a photograph, brother and sister to start new life at SOS village in Moneragala

Two siblings, Tharusha Lakshan (9) and Chalanika Kaveesha (2) from Badulla who would have been separated from each other for the rest of their lives are together again following the intervention of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The fate of the children unfolded when their father, R. D. Thilakarathne was arrested for killing a relative, 37 year-old Nishani Kumudu ten days ago. The children’s mother had been killed last year.

Happy in their new home: Brother and sister with other children at the SOS villageHappy in their new home: Brother and sister with other children at the SOS village

According to a neighbour an altercation between Kumudu and the suspect had resulted in the suspect beating her with a pestle. Kumudu had died on the way to hospital. The suspect had admitted to the killing.

According to a court order the children were sent to two different orphanages as the girl was below two-years of age and according to procedures of the Department of Probation and Child Care Services (DPCCS), children under the age of five are sent to state-run orphanages and children above five to other registered orphanages. Following the court order the boy was sent to Sirisangabo Orphanage in Ambeygoda and the girl to Sujatha Orphanage in Bandarawela.

However, President Rajapaksa on seeing a photograph of the two children that appeared in our sister paper, the Daily Mirror had requested authorities to keep the children together.

After considering the request made by the DPCCS to send both brother and sister to the SOS village in Moneragala, Magistrate Aruna Wickramasinhe of the Bandarawela Magistrates Court approved the request.

Meanwhile, DPCCS Commissioner Yamuna Perera told the Sunday Times immediate action was taken following the request made by the President although the practice was to send children below five to state orphanages and above five to other privately-run orphanages.
She said the Department will follow up on the childrens’ welfare, education and other needs.
DPCCS Probation Officer Nirmali Perera said annually more than 13,000 children are sent to orphanages due to various reasons including, destitution, family disputes, poverty and alcoholic fathers.

Pointing out that the majority of the orphans were from the Northern, Eastern and Western provinces she said awareness programmes were being carried out islandwide on child abuse targeting both children and parents. Ms Perera said in addition counselling and training sessions are conducted in orphanages especially on how to deal with traumatised children.

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