By Risidra Mendis
Rising water levels due to heavy rains instill fear in most
of us who fear for our lives and belongings.
The recently experienced heavy rains spelt
disaster and destruction to thousands of
families' in many places.
However one family that The Sunday Leader came across seems
to have become immune to the rising water
levels and the floods that sweep through
their shanty house whenever there is a heavy
While thousands are displaced and others leave their houses
in fear of rising water levels the
Premarathne family stay in their house until
the water levels recede and the rain ceases.
Situated off the main
Maharagama-Piliyandala Road is the tiny
shanty house of the Premarathnes - a family
that has for the past 10 years learnt to
live with the floods.
Nowhere else to go
Life without floods for the Premarathnes would be like life
without food for the rest of us. This family
doesn't leave their tiny house during the
floods as they have nowhere else to go.
Despite the heavy flooding of the area and with over eight
inches of water inside their home, the
Premarathnes live with the water the best
way they could and wait patiently until the
water level goes down. Their house at
Arawwala, Pannipitiya is built on a lower
level from the
The Premarathnes are shielded from the rain only by the
tiny tin sheet roof and four sides of
cardboard that serve as the four walls of
During the rainy season the water flows from the main road
into the shanty of the Premarathnes. When
The Sunday Leader spoke to them it was clear
that the floods had taken its toll on this
family who have become immune to the
destruction caused to household property and
the constant health issues of the children.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader M. G. Premarathne who works
as a labourer, said the only major
destruction due to the floods was the damage
caused to their almirah. "We don't have much
furniture but the only problem is that we
cannot cook for the children during the
rainy season," Premarathne said. The
Premarathnes cook their meals on a small
firewood cooker built just outside their
"When it starts raining we know the house is going to get
flooded. We make a hammock and climb onto
that and wait until the rain subsides and
the water goes down. Because of the heavy
rains experienced recently our house got
flooded on May 29 . We had eight inches of
water. The water went down only the next
day," Premarathne explained.
Premarathne's wife D. G. A. Anoma Shanthi Kumarihamy said
as their house went under water during the
rainy season the children were always
falling sick due to the dampness inside.
"The children are constantly coughing and
have fever during the rainy weather," she
said trying to explain her plight.
Paying house rent
The Premarathnes have four children, Diriyanjali Harshani
(9), Dilshan Rasanga (8), Aparana Hasara (4)
and Aparana Raksha (3). The eldest daughter
and the son go to the Arawwala school. The
Premarathnes pay a rent of Rs. 200 to the
owner of the land who stays a few metres
away from their home. "What is the point in
asking the politicians to help us?
Politicians come visiting us only when they
need our votes during election time.
"Once they win the elections we don't see them again. Our
children can manage with the clothes they
have. What we need is food, because during
the flooding we cannot cook and have to
spend whatever money we have on buying food
from the shop for the family," Shanthi said.
Vasana needs all the
luck she can get
Vasana Siriwardene is the mother of a five year old child.
Due to a hole in her heart Vasana has for
many years not been able to lead a normal
life. When she was 13 years old Vasana
underwent heart surgery.
However after the operation Vasana's heartbeat was not
stable and the doctors had advised her to
undergo a second operation. She underwent
this operation where a pacemaker was fitted
to help her heartbeat.
But despite the two operations Vasana is still not
fortunate to lead a normal life. One side of
Vasana's heart continued to beat at a high
rate and doctors have now advised her to
consult an electrophysiologist.
Consultant Cardiac Electro-physiologist, Dr. Asunga
Dunuwille who is attached to the
Institute of Cardiology, National Hospital
of Sri Lanka has diagnosed Vasana as
suffering from atrial tachycardia causing
distressing symptoms. "The patient's
condition requires percutaneous
electrophysiological surgical ablation under
3D mapping. This medical facility is not
available in Sri Lanka. Vasana will have to
seek treatment at the St. Stephen's
Hospital, New Delhi under the care of Prof.
Mohan Nair," Dr. Dunuwille said.
Senior Consultant and Head, Department of Cardiology, St.
Professor Nair says Vasana has been referred
to their hospital by Dr. Dunuwille.
According to Prof. Nair, Vasana is suffering
from complex atrial tachycardia and has been
advised radiofrequency catheter ablation
under 3D mapping. The approximate cost of
this procedure at St. Stephen's hospital,
including stay for three days is Indian
Vasana seeks financial assistance from kind donors who are
willing to help her undergo this operation
India and lead a normal life.
Rain is here to stay
People wading knee deep through the
murky flood waters
By Shezna Shums
Heavy rains throughout most parts of the island in the past
weeks have displaced over 400,000 people
with around 20 people dying due to the
The Meteorological Department says that there will be
showers at several places in the Western and
Sabaragamuwa Provinces and in the Galle and
Matara Districts in the coming days while
isolated thundershowers will also develop in
the Eastern, Uva and Central Provinces
during the afternoon or evening.
Following the heavy rains many persons had to seek shelter
in temporary camps as their homes were
inundated by flood waters.
Chief Epidemiologist, Epidemiological Unit, Dr. Nihal
Abeysinghe told The Sunday Leader that at
the time of heavy floods the threat of rat
fever was minimal.
However this situation may differ when the flood waters
subside and the rodents are able to
contaminate the stagnant waters.
The Epidemiological Unit is constantly keeping in touch
with the Medical Officers of Health in the
affected districts who are continuously
monitoring the situation regarding any
health problems and issues at the temporary
IDP camps for flood victims.
"Our main concerns at the moment are with regard to
sanitation, water and food for the people
living in temporary IDP camps," said Dr.
He added that for people who may have to be in camps for a
longer period of time the Epidemiological
Unit may have to focus on more suitable long
term strategies according to their needs.
"If people will have to be in IDP camps for a while longer
we will have to look into supplying dry
rations, milk foods and also have an
immunisation campaign, in addition to seeing
to the other needs," he said.
Some of the districts most affected during last weeks
Gampaha, Kalutara, Ratnapura, Kegalle,
Galle and Matara.
Landslides had also occurred in the areas of Ambagamuwa
Korale, Bulathsinhala, Eheliyagoda,
Warakapola and Ratnapura.
Some of the latest statistics indicate that there are about
78,300 families consisting of 333,248 people
who have been affected by the floods.
Many of them have even lost their livelihoods because
their homes have been inundated with water.
They are now in temporary shelters in their
respective areas - in schools, camps,
temples and community centres.
All District and Divisional Secretaries have been
instructed by the National Disaster
Management Relief Services Centre (NDMRSC)
to provide whatever is needed by the people
in addition to providing them with food and
The authorities urge the public to donate emergency items
to the hundreds of thousands who are
affected. Canned food such as fish, bottled
water, dry rations and clothes are in urgent
need says the National Disaster Management
Relief Services Centre.
Sri Lanka's two main monsoons are from May
to September and November to February. Sri
Lanka depends on the monsoons for irrigation
and power generation.
More rains are predicted in the coming days with the
southwest monsoon expected to continue till
The situation has also affected thousands who are daily
income earners, leaving their families in a
state of despair.
'The government is unable to fulfill all the needs of the
victims due to financial constraints. It
would therefore be deeply appreciated if the
general public could provide the essential
items needed by these unfortunate victims,"
said a source from NDMRSC.
"At this juncture it would be deeply appreciated if those
who can afford to do so, would provide the
essential items to the Ministry of
Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services to
help meet the immediate requirements of the
flood victims," stated the National Disaster
Apollo - a centre of
excellence in medical care
One of the babies, post heart surgery
watched by the nursing staff and
(Inset) CEO, Lakith Peiris
By Fathima Razik
Yesterday (7) marked six years since
started operations in
Sri Lanka, and from October 2006 it became a
fully Sri Lankan owned entity - renamed The
Lanka Hospitals Corporation (TLHC). And in
the past six years over one million people
have sought medical treatment and care,
where renowned Indian and Sri Lankan doctors
have given of their knowledge and expertise.
Under local management in the past nearly two years, TLHC
has made a paradigm shift in healthcare and
related services, opening its doors and
having facilities affordable and readily
available to Sri Lankans from any strata of
society. This is through low-priced wards
and rooms and going up to the upper end to
luxurious and state-of-the-art suites while
not in any way compromising on the care
extended to patients.
And to provide medical services to the underprivileged TLHC
has its Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR) programme supported by Lanka Bell -
the telecommunications provider, where free
paediatric heart surgery is conducted on
poor and needy children.
Quelling past misconceptions that may have been a deterrent
to many patients who may have opted to seek
medical care in other private hospitals,
TLHC focuses on being a people friendly
hospital, providing the best in medical care
through its centres of excellence.
Chief Executive Officer, Lakith Peiris said that TLHC is
committed to being people friendly from the
moment a patient or any visitor comes
through its gates. For a start, parking
charges have been done away with although a
record is kept of every vehicle that drives
in and drives out.
"We have lost much revenue by withdrawing parking charges.
We had around 2500 vehicles coming in
everyday but we think that it is a good move
and people seem to appreciate this waiver.
So, there is no barrier, literally. And we
provide valet parking for our doctors which
they appreciate very much," he said.
Health checks are a sine qua non, more so with the stresses
that most people undergo and TLHC provides a
range of packages to suit any budget. In
addition, anyone who comes to the Out
Patients Department (OPD) can also get free
tests done to check their blood pressure,
blood sugar, weight and height while they
wait to see the doctor.
Any person accompanying a patient could also get these
tests done free of charge. "This is a first
time that a private hospital provides such a
service. This counter is open from
10 am to 5 pm and some days for even longer
as many people make use of this free
facility," said Peiris.
The emergency service provided by TLHC is yet another
'first' to its credit. A direct number -
1566 that can be dialled from any phone will
ensure that prompt attention is given to the
caller. This number will be answered by a
doctor or a paramedic and is open 24 hours
of the day and an ambulance service is
readily available to meet any emergency. "A
doctor will be in attendance in the
ambulance so as to provide the best care in
such emergencies," added Peiris.
Many other services are also available - diagnostic
services, the blood bank, emergency service,
amongst others, throughout the day and
night. "A patient who comes in to any
hospital is in distress. We recognise that
and ensure that he or she is comforted and
assisted in every possible way through our
Customer Care Service. It's an
individualised service and we have trained
staff to see to every need of the patient on
arrival, so much so that we have recorded
150-175 new registrations every day in the
last two and a half months," said the CEO.
TLHC has an eminent panel of doctors - both local and
foreign, and a well-trained and experienced
team of medical staff in all its centres of
excellence. Fully functional is its cardio
thoracic centre with Dr. Richard Firmin at
the helm. The cardiac centre provides free
life saving heart surgery for poor children
whose parents and families cannot afford
private medical care and as a result are on
waiting lists in government hospitals for
long periods of time.
Such children, through a selection process are taken in for
free surgery or in some cases with the
monies provided for them through the
President's Fund that covers only one third
of the cost of such surgery.
At least one surgery is performed every month. "In May the
team at the Centre of Excellence for
Cardiology performed two such surgeries -
one on five-month-old baby Nilpun Dilanka of
Anuradhapura and the other on nine-month-old
baby Pabasiri Ratnayake of Veyangoda. Baby
Pabasiri was as small as a three-month-old
baby due to her condition. Both babies are
doing well and their mothers especially are
so happy," said Peiris.
Dr. Richard Firmin, cardio thoracic surgeon from the
UK and Dr. Hemantha Perera, consultant
anesthetist provided their services free of
charge. The other doctors in the team are
cardiologists Dr. Mahesh Krishnakumar and
Dr. Rajakanthan, and Dr. Rajeeve Peiris and
Dr. Sujith Kumar - cardio thoracic surgeons.
With a staff of 897 excluding outside staff, TLHC is
committed to striving for and reaching
excellence in all aspects of medical care
and treatment. "The best of local doctors
have now registered with us, and
complemented by renowned, foreign specialist
doctors we are geared to treat any medical
ailment. With continuous new referrals we
believe that we have achieved much in the
short space of nearly two years and we are
committed to giving all our patients the
best," said Lakith Peiris.
More centres of excellence
With the dawn of its sixth anniversary,
Apollo Hospital will have its Department
of Renal Science and the Fertility
Centre fully functional.
The Department of Renal Science has
successfully completed 60 kidney
transplants. These include both living
donor and cadaver transplants. The
department has three teams of eminent
local and foreign surgeons and medical
staff to provide complete renal care.
TLHC has a strict donor policy where
apart from the technical aspects it
ensures that all donors are genuine.
Squealing arrival of the Dancing Doll
The countdown has ended! Dancing Doll has come prancing
back into our lives. I was told to look out
for a `goday' looking Sri Lankan girl at the
airport since her hair was too bleached! So
there we were, literally falling off our
seats with eagerness, when she sailed in
with an extra-large suitcase. Apparently, it
was full of absolute necessities for her
three-month vacation here.
Talking 19 to the dozen and squealing at short intervals to
the astonishment of people nearby, she
launched into a somewhat poetical
explanation as to why she was so glad to be
In between every few sentences, she kept on exclaiming how
fat she had got! "My arms are elephantine,
my butt has gotten ample, and my boobs are
rather sizeable! My hair is horrid! I'm too
ghastly white!" In my totally prejudiced
eyes, she looked absolutely gorgeous.
I tried to calm down her hysterical observations by saying
she could now lose weight and she
immediately pounced on Caveman and demanded
to know if he had renewed her membership at
the gym. I also reminded her in next to no
time she would be dancing and would quickly
burn off all her extra weight.
Somewhat mollified, she squealed in delight at the sight of
the vehicle and the driver. "Wow! I can be
driven wherever I want to! No walking miles
for the next few months!" Every few minutes,
we would squeal and I would squeeze whatever
part of her I could lay my hands on.
Pretended not to enjoy
She pretended not to enjoy this. Every time she caught
sight of a particular building, she would
give a commentary, most of it went like; "I
don't want to even see another burger for
these three months, gosh, I'm so utterly fed
up of pizza I don't want to even think about
it, the KFC there tastes totally gross."
These sentiments pleased me immensely!
On the other side, she said" Hmm! Nice kurtas! A new shoe
shop? Aaah! Summer dresses!" and things in
like vein, all the while telling me how
ridiculously expensive things were over
On arrival at home, the doggies jumped on her, barking
excitedly. The staff emerged all grinning
broadly at her. Every change in the house
was immediately noticed and totally approved
of. She had specified what she wanted for
lunch, a typical Sri Lankan-style rice and
curry! A year ago, she detested the stuff.
Afterwards, she visited the salon, and without even asking
for my opinion, shortened her hair by about
a foot, and coloured it black. I must say
the result was an improvement! More squeals
When I inquired about Beautiful Dreamer, who has yet to
start her exams, she related some hilarious
episodes of what she had been up to
recently. These activities had not been
mentioned to me. Apparently she was frying
four sausages, one at a time. Why they were
being done separately, I couldn't fathom.
Suddenly one of them caught fire, and she
yells frantically for Dancing Doll, who
starts giggling hysterically. "Do
something!" she yells at her.
When Dancing Doll continues having a hysterical fit, she
starts blowing on it to put the fire off.
Then she rushes to the sink to open the tap
and pour some water on it. Obviously she has
totally forgotten the theory about oil and
Their flat mates hearing a commotion come out of their
rooms one by one to see what the Terrible
Sisters are up to now! "Are you trying to
burn down the kitchen?" they ask in a
An uninvited guest invaded their apartment recently. A
cockroach! Apparently they are all scared of
cockroaches except The Dreamer. Everybody
screams and shouts for her. So she grabs a
broom and chases it all over the flat trying
to kill it. It has escaped capture and
massacre so far.
At the last sighting, she was asleep and thus without her
contact lenses on. So arming herself with
her weapon, she blindly rushed around whilst
the others were hysterically shouting. One
girl was asleep and her door was ajar, and
in it scuttled!
So the others stood outside and shone torches inside the
room, whilst the half blind Dreamer searched
in vain for the intruder. I called her
immediately and told her for goodness sake
to buy some spray before it multiplied! I
want the next two weeks to whizz by, so I
can have another squealer in the house!
- Honky Tonk Woman
What it means to be a geography student at
There are only three Geography students at Notre Dame Uni,
the rest are all Environmental Science
students but most of the classes each group
takes are the same. Out of the three I am
the oldest but the second in line, started a
group online a couple of days ago. He had an
idea about disseminating information about
sustainability and the issues surrounding
through a popular medium that university
students would use.
Of course naturally, I end up being an enthusiastic
supporter of this endeavour. But how easy is
it to live a sustainable lifestyle while
being an university student? When I first
started studying here, I was a bit nervous
about this. I was studying Geography,
therefore it seemed expected that I would
fully endorse environmental principles I was
learning about in my personal life as well.
It didn't seem like I was living a very
sustainable life. It didn't seem that I
could afford to live a sustainable life.
Most things organic or sustainably produced
or marketed as such were (and still are to
some extent) very expensive.
The principles themselves are not that hard for me to
accept and endorse. I don't like the way we
view our world in such an anthropocentric
fashion. I don't regard people as being more
valuable than animals. Far as I am concerned
all species are equal and if cats can eat
mice and sheep eat grass then I can eat
beef. Because it's the natural way things
work - things eat other things.
But I also understand that that's my personal preference.
I have vegetarian friends - I cook for them
and we get on fine. I care about things
though - about people, plants, animals. On
the one hand I accept that as a human I can
eat meat and choose to do so and am
therefore killing something but on the other
hand I want that to be managed to minimise
unnecessary harm to anything else if that
makes any sense. I don't like the idea of
using pesticides and fertiliser to grow
grain to make flour to make bread to feed me
because that harms humans - the soil, the
micro fauna and flora and fish. So organic
seems to be the way to go.
But what does sustainability mean? It's not just one's diet
is it, and the potential ramifications of
that? It's about consumerism - ethical
consumerism. Being informed about what you
buy, what you use, what you eat, what you do
and how you do it. It means minimal harm to
anything else around you. And despite all
the stereotypes to the contrary, you don't
have to live like a hippie to achieve it.
It does however mean you have to learn a lot about how the
world works around you. If you live in a
city you can't be ignorant as to what goes
on in the countryside or the rest of the
world for that matter. It's not a lifestyle
for the intellectually lazy.
One of the first and easiest things to do was to switch all
my light bulbs to energy efficient ones. One
of the reasons for doing this was simply
because I have very tall ceilings and I
prefer not to have to lug a ladder up and
down the staircase once a month just so I
can change light bulbs. Changing them means
I use less power which means I am
contributing less to fossil fuel consumption
and the problems associated with that.
This coupled with the fact that I am now turning every
light off whenever possible means I have a
lower power bill. I have also started
switching my appliances off at the power
points when they are not used which is
frankly about 95% of the day. The flatmate
gets annoyed by this whenever there is a TV
show on but I am very good at ignoring
Another thing I started to do was to dump all my cleaning
products in favour of white vinegar and
bicarbonate soda which frankly cleans
anything and everything more efficiently and
is less hazardous than any bleach. Bleach
fumes used to make me want to pass out which
meant that I kept having to take a break
every so often when cleaning. Now I have
more time on my hands as well. And vinegar
and bicarb soda are really cheap.
I have also started watching what goes down the drain. Once
you pick a brand of environmentally friendly
soap or bath gel or laundry detergent or
dishwashing liquid - you only need to look
for it again on the supermarket shelves when
you run out. It isn't that hard.
As a university student, I don't have a car. My flatmate
does but we end up walking everywhere,
catching buses or riding on the train. It
saves on fuel costs and I feel a little bit
validated for refusing to give in to my
family's requests of getting a licence. Not
until they design and build an
environmentally friendly Jeep Wrangler with
a hydrogen engine or something similar.
Which will probably be in about 20 years
When you are renting however there is only so much you can
do to be sustainable. I cannot for instance,
install new glass in the windows or change
the plumbing. I did attempt to have my own
vegetable garden but that does not work when
the only spot you have is on top of some
aluminium roofing that slopes at a dangerous
angle. I donate to Greenpeace but frankly I
have my doubts about that.
Why do we want to save certain species? They always say
that I'd want my children to be able to see
them. That's a selfish reason for wanting to
save species. Species are species - some die
out, some don't, some evolve and become
something else. If you told me you wanted to
save a species in order to maintain the
equilibrium in an environment I'd like
donating to such a cause better. Species
don't need to be saved - they need to be
maintained - the pressure we put on them
needs to be minimised. You might not want to
decimate a species but you can't elevate it
above others either because then you'd find
another species disappearing pretty fast.
Things eat other things. People - you need
some sort of balance.
Science and logic
It's not nice for Geography students to make Greenpeace
volunteers' heads explode in the street when
they start accosting you and talking about
the future generations. I am not
anthropocentric - I'd cheer if you said the
entire human species was to die tomorrow.
Children might interest me but I'd rather
save a species because it meant we all have
air to breathe rather than because it's
pretty and sits there and everyone loves to
look at it. Greenpeace volunteers are lucky
I am a nice person. I do donate but I always
have grave doubts about how efficiently the
money is spent and how good the science and
logic is behind the principles.
And money is not easy to come by when you are a university
student. So you have to spend it wisely. But
there are ways. You need to organise
yourself sufficiently so that you have a
regular shopping trip once a week when you
can carry canvas bags and hit the Asian
stores and the town markets. It's even
easier when you live close by. Grabbing
cherry tomatoes from Fremantle markets is
one of my favorite things to do snack-wise.
Kakulas Sisters is a specialty food store around the corner
from me and is where I buy my rice and dhal.
There is a Kakulas Brothers store in the
city, fresh provisions in
Claremont and South Fremantle and then the
Subiaco Markets. There are bakeries and one
of the best places to buy fish is at
Sealanes in South Freo, just a free bus ride
away. Most of these are local and are
therefore more sustainable. A lot of produce
sold at Kakulas is imported but sustainable
and cheap. And you can always venture down
Wray Avenue which is well known for the cheapest local produce
But there are a lot more things that I'd like to do. I'd
like the city council to make it easier for
me to recycle. I'd like to switch to a
cleaner energy source for electricity but I
can't afford it. I'd like all my appliances
to be more energy efficient. And most of all
I'd like a lot of people to start coming up
with ways that university students and
people who rent their accommodation can live
Which is why I applaud what my fellow student is attempting
to do. By enabling the topic to reach a
wider audience and allowing university
students to discuss it, maybe we can come up
with more ways to make our lives more
efficient and the whole of the human species
a little bit less of the disaster it seems
to be turning out to be.
And now I am thinking of cherry tomatoes. Damn.
- Marisa Wikramanayake
I haven't spoken to my Mother-In-Law for 18 months....I
don't like to interrupt her
John: "I'm a man of few words." Bill: "I'm married, too."
Three weeks after her wedding day, Joanna called her
minister. "Reverend," she wailed, "John and
I had a DREADFUL fight!"
"Calm down, my child," said the minister, "it's not half as
bad as you think it is. Every marriage has
to have its first fight!"
"I know, I know!" said Joanna, "but what am I going to do
with the BODY?"
Nice and white
A fresh-faced lad on the eve of his wedding night asks his
mother, "Mom, why are wedding dresses
The mother looks at her son and replies, "Son, this shows
the town that your bride is pure."
The son thanks his mom, and then seeks his father opinion,
"Dad, why are wedding dresses white?"
The father looks at his son in surprise and says, "Son, all
household appliances come in white."
Why cats are better than men
A CAT always hits the litter box. Better chance of training
a CAT. No matter what your CAT drags into
your house, you don't have to pretend you
like it. You never have to spend time with
your CAT's mother. If you ask enough times,
a CAT may actually listen to you. A CAT
purrs when you serve him dinner. You can
de-claw a CAT... try to get a guy to clip
his toe nails. It's okay if a CAT rubs up
against your best friend. You don't have to
worry about your CAT turning into a pig when
you host a party. A CAT knows you're the key
to his happiness... a man thinks he is. If a
CAT jumps into your lap, a little light
petting will satisfy him.
The board of directors for a large company, believing it
was time for a shake-up, hires a new CEO.
This new boss is determined to rid the company of all
slackers, so on a tour of the facilities
during his first day, the CEO notices a guy
leaning casually against the wall. The room
is full of workers and he wants to let them
all know he means business, and wasting time
on the clock is not acceptable. The CEO
walks up to the guy and asks, "And how much
money do you make a week?"
A little surprised, the young fellow looks at him and
replies, "I make $300.00 a week. Why?" The
CEO reaches into his wallet, hands the guy
$1,200 in cash, and screams, "Here's four
weeks pay, now GET OUT and don't come back!"
Feeling pretty good about his first firing, the CEO
looks around the room and asks, "Does anyone
want to tell me what that goof-off did here
aside from standing around?"
With a sheepish grin, one of the other workers
muttered, "That guy delivered our pizza."