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17th July, 2005  Volume 12, Issue 1

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

Review

Exclusive villas at Angoda mental hospital

By Ranee Mohamed

It is strange but almost every patient living in the Angoda Mental Hospital wants to go home.  "Give a call to my wife, give a call......

More......


Review more articles

> A beggar stumbles down memory lane

> Ah! That pain in the mouth

> How safe are  female volunteers?

> A helping hand from the round Table

> The magic of youth... (....Balder dash)


Exclusive villas at Angoda mental hospital

The inmates languishing behind the iron gates awaiting the loved ones who never come, Prema Hathurusinghe and Dr. Jayan Mendis are in the picture

By Ranee Mohamed

It is strange but almost every patient living in the Angoda Mental Hospital wants to go home.  "Give a call to my wife, give a call to my mother, or father," they say. Each day they hang on to the iron bars waiting for a visitor. But no one comes.

The wards are crowded. Over 1,200 patients are seeking inhouse treatment at this hospital. Every day patients who walk in for treatment are admitted to the wards. The wards continue to fill, with facilities getting reduced, day by day. 

The villas in the hospital is a new concept. It is an exclusive place, with attached bathrooms, separate beds and great food. In the menu are fruits, vegetables, noodles, chicken, pulses, bread and butter. "This is like living in a hotel,"  said an inmate living in the villas. . "In the morning we are treated to a tasty breakfast, then there is nothing to do. No one wants to come and visit mental patients, no one wants to talk to us. I want to go outside and see what is happening. I know that I have a problem in my head, but I do not know what it is. It is for someone outside to decide  - may be a doctor,"  he explained logically. He was a former university lecturer in English.

 It is hard to imagine that these English-speaking, powdered inmates sipping their teas are mentally disturbed. But hospital authorities insist they are; daily medication and care keeps them on the brink of sanity.

There are  different classes in the villas -class 1 and  2 villas. "Our families do not want us, we have sent many messages but they do not want to come and take us back. I want to go back home! I want to go back and see my garden and the familiar faces," said an elderly lady who gave me  names of her family members. "But they will not take me back!" she cried. "I will have to die in here," she said. The fact that her family members are paying Rs.10,000 a month to keep her here in these exclusive villas, is not a source of consolation for her.

Sought after

The villas are the most sought after place at the hospital. "The waiting list is long,  there are about 100 people in the waiting list," said a hospital source.

Men sit staring at the blue skies. Some of them are watching TV and yet others are reading newspapers. It is like a retirement home. But there is something amiss in the lives of these affluent people.

The general wards have no such comforts. The hospital is doing all they can to give them care, comfort and medication. The food is good - with everyone waiting for the Wednesday meal of  yellow rice, chicken and potatoes. Compared to the wards, the villas speak of an exclusive experience, of privacy, comfort and solitude.

No return

"People are brought in here by family members and admitted. But when they get better no one wants to take them home," said Director of the hospital, Dr. Jayan Mendis who has been in this  hospital since 1986.

Dr. Mendis understands the needs of the mental patients. The doctors and the staff of the Angoda Mental Hospital  have taken the responsibility of taking care  of these psychiatric patients, when their own families have abandoned them. It was Dr. Mendis who was responsible for the setting up of a medical ward at the Angoda Hospital. In this way patients with mental illness suffering from other complications such as cardiac problems, diabetes and other ailments need not go out of the hospital for treatment. Today, mental patients are treated for their other illnesses within the walls of this hospital. There are also EEG and ECG technicians in this hospital.

The floor of the wards are strewn with brooms, paper bags and crushed cups and  the minor staff of the hospital are always busy, constantly cleaning up and picking up the mess.  The patients too have to be cleaned up constantly. 

Wailing and laughing seems the order of the day.  Chatter and loud laughter permeates the air.  But the staff have learnt to keep the patients  'under control' with  medication and care. The basic traits of mental illness however remain. Inside the  closed wards and behind the closed iron doors, the inmates minds' are in  utter chaos. All of them want to talk,  relate their life stories and pose for photographs.

  Male wards

In the male wards, well-dresssed male patients were grooming themselves. Some were combing their hair and others  listened with enchantment to the love songs of the Hindi film Veer Zaara. Love was in the air- a medication-initiated serenity and happiness,  coupled with a state of restlessness.  Yet some were returning, soaking wet after a shower - they had showered with their clothes on and were not willing to take them off. The nursing staff seemed to have a great deal of patience, coaxing the patients into doing the right thing. Some listened, and others did not.

The hospital does not charge any kind of fee for treatment. But  Dr. Mendis expressed dismay,  at the attitude of families who do not take the patients  back home. "This has become a problem for the hospital. After patients recover, they do not go back home, they stay here," said Dr. Mendis pointing to a ward with fans and clean beds - the place where the 'unwanted' live.

In the female wards were young women, but there were ageing mothers too. All of them wanted to go home. Many of them knew the contact numbers of their loved ones, they gave messages, messages that will not be well received.

"Many of these women have led lives that have been plagued with problems. Many of them are family problems, there are love problems too. The problems have created stress,  breaking down  the family unit - some have lost their husbands, others a parent, and many of them have lost both their parents at some time in their life," said the matron of the women's wards, Prema Hathurusinghe.

Family problems

Hathurusinghe said that she has observed that many of these patients have been embroiled in some sort of family problem. "Some mothers are overseas, some patients have lost their parent or parents at an early stage in life and others have had alcoholic or  substance-addiction in the families, to deal with," pointed out Hathurusinghe.

My advise to all women is that whatever the circumstances, one ought to be strong and try to live well, with great strength of character," she said.

Mental illness however has been observed to be slightly higher in males. Use of alcohol and other substances may have some effect on this gender-related increase.

"The patients at the Angoda Mental Hospital are a forgotten lot.These are people who like to savour the good things in life. The nursing staff are kind and reward some patients with a treat on their salary day.

"But no one brings them any kind of food or donation. Sometimes a family of an inmate sends them biscuits or cake. They do not even have proper clothes,"  said a nurse.

These desperate people are forgotten by their loved ones and ignored by society.  Will the mental hospital be able to bear the brunt of this negligence? Will it be able to house the increasing number of patients that add to its wards, daily?  It is time something is done quickly and immediately.

"Patients are not taken back by their families"

Medical Director, Angoda Mental Hospital Dr. Jayan Mendis who was earlier working in the same hospital  as a psychiatrist for eight years, says that the hospital has to improve its facilities and space each day. "Patients do not leave this place, and new patients are coming in here everyday," he said.

"Change of lifestyle such as going overseas, facing difficult situations, trauma, child birth etc. can bring about mental illness," said Dr. Mendis.

"This hospital admits very serious patients," said the doctor. Today there are eight doctors to do admissions. The waiting time is only only one eigth of the time they have been waiting earlier," he says. Dr. Gayan Mendis  has also set up eight on-call rooms for the  the eight medical doctors to attend to patients day and night. 

Dr. Mendis also spoke of a horticulture therapy that the hospital has introduced. He said that this therapy is given to  patients who have been discharged and also to patients with acute mental illness. "This  therapy helps them not only to get back their lost concentration but also  gives them skills that will be useful in the future, he said.

The hospital needs  renovation badly. Also it needs needs five ETU beds, two cardiac monitors, an ECG machine, two pulse oxymeteres, two sucker machines, a D.C. shock machine, two opthalmoscopes, an ambulance and two resuscitation sets.

"Admissions are increasing and our main problem is trying to send these discharged patients back home. They are hanging around because their families do not want them back," said Mendis. 


A beggar stumbles down memory lane

By Jamila Najmuddin

He sat in a corner of the crowded side-walk with a blank expression on his face. With his right hand stretched out to the passersby,  he was lost in a world of silence.

Dressed in a torn 'grey' shirt and a faded sarong, he looked at the world with desperate eyes, praying that those who passed along would notice his stretched hand.

As the sunlight burnt his dark skin, he sat there with ruffled hair, only hoping that he had collected enough moneyto buy himself a slice of bread.

This is 47 year old Shantha Kumara. Seated in the corner of a crowded sidewalk in Moratuwa for the past 30 years, Kumara earns his meals,  begging.

No family to call his own, he has no home and spends each night sleeping on the dirt strewn roads.

A stale 'feast'

"Please give me some money. I have not eaten for two days and I am very hungry," he cries as we approach him.

His right hand stretches even further as he continues in a desperate tone, pleading for some money and food.

"I am tired and I have not slept. I am sick. Why doesn't

anyone help me?" he continues.

While he goes on  in a desperate tone, a man offers him a stale loaf of bread. His face finally lightens up and he thanks the man profusely and eats his 'food' in silence, ignoring the rest of the world.

"I have been sitting in this corner for the past 30 years now," he tells us after his 'feast'.

I am sick and I have no place to go. I have no family and friends. I am all alone," he says. As Kumara continues, he tells us that he lost his parents at the age of 10. "I had a very good childhood. I still remember the way my mother and I used to play outside our house in Kalutara. I had a younger sister. I do not know where she is now," he says.

Kumara tells us that one day, while he and his sister were returning home from school, his neighbour was standing outside his house, awaiting their return. "I knew something had happened, immediately. I will never forget that day because it was the day we returned home from school only to find that our parents had been murdered by drug dealers in the area," he says.

Leading a poor but yet happy life, Kumara explains that after his parents death, he and his sister were sent to an orphanage in Galle.

Greatest regret

  "Those in charge at the orphanage treated us very badly. My sister got bullied by the older boys and I could not do anything about it. I got beaten up for protecting her. I finally ran away," he says adding that todate his biggest regret was leaving his sister behind.

At the age of 12 Kumara came to Colombo and worked in a roadside tea boutique in Mount Lavinia. However, due to intolerable abuse by the boutique owner, Kumara ran away once again.

Searching the streets for food and water, Kumara finally met a man in Moratuwa who took pity on the little boy. "He is known as Kasun and he took me to his house, only to realise that soon I would be forced into begging."

" I worked for Kasun for three months but one day he threw me out onto the streets and forced me to beg," he said adding that although at first he refused, he later had no choice as his hunger was immense. "All I wanted to do was fill my stomach. I was a small boy who did not have money or a home. What was I supposed to do?" he cries.

It is past noon and the world hurries along passing him. Kumara  goes back into a world of begging, praying that as the evening draws nearer he would have collected enough for atleast a stale slice of bread for  dinner.  After which he would find a street corner to sleep.


Ah! That pain in the mouth

There are two common diseases affecting teeth and associated tissues. They are dental caries and periodontal disease. Both the diseases have a common factor, which plays the most important role in the formative days of the disease. It is named as dental plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance and consists of bacteria, food debris and saliva.

Plaque formation is a natural occurrence in the oral cavity. Caries is a disease common in young adults and children. It is the cavitation of teeth. It is caused by acid, which is formed by the action of certain bacteria in plaque. The sugar consumed orally is carried to the plaque and is turned into acids by the plaque bacteria. This acid dissolves away the enamel, which is the protective outer covering of a tooth.

 These bacteria live in the mouth and are  quite harmless. Sticky food containing sugar, clings on to the tooth surface  facilitating the growth of colonies of bacteria. Some of the bacteria in these colonies can turn sugar into acid dissolving the enamel of teeth forming cavities.

Three main types

The three main types of food we consume are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Where caries (dental decay) is concerned, carbohydrate is the only food which can be turned into acid to produce tooth decay. In this process the most important carbohydrate is the refined carbohydrate called sugars. Sugars taken by mouth  can be instantly turned into acid by the cariogenic bacteria in plaque. Some of the food we consume such as biscuits, cakes, chocolates, sweets, ice cream, sweetened canned fruits, vegetables, milk and the natural starches such as peas, potatoes which are rich in carbohydrates, are not  significant causes of caries.

When sugar is taken into the mouth, within a minute or two, it is turned into acid, by plaque bacteria which dissolves away a microscopic layers of tooth enamel. This is the demineralisation process that occurs in caries. Even after the end of a sugar meal, the acid produced by bacteria will persist for a period, from 20 minutes to two hours, before it is neutralised by the buffer action of the saliva.

Once neutralised further demineralisation will not take place,  during which time a natural healing process takes place in the teeth by the entry of the minerals such as flouride and calcium ions in the saliva remineralising  the enamel and restoring the tooth surface. Therefore there is a balance between the demineralisation and remineralisation processes.

Sugar intake and frequency

If the sugar is confined to main mealtimes, this will increase the time available for the process of remineralisation,  helping the  arresting of caries. It was believed that not the amount of sugar taken, but the frequency with which it is taken that was important in the occurrence of dental caries. However some studies demonstrate that the amount of sugar taken also causes higher prevalence of dental caries. Therefore both the amount and the frequency of sugar intake should be controlled in order to reduce the prevalence of dental caries. When the amount of time available for demineralisation exceeds that of remineralisation, the reverse takes place with a continuous acid production which will attack the enamel. This will prevent remineralisation and will give rise to destruction of the enamel, leading to exposure of the dentine underneath. The enamel is a superficial tooth substance free of nerves and blood vessels. Thus the first stage of caries attack is painless.

At this stage the tooth decay will be shown as a white, brown patch or as a shallow cavity. Once the caries spreads to the dentine, pain or sensitivity will only last for a short period and will relate to contact with hot, cold or sweet food. At this stage if not treated, or the caries lesion  not arrested,  the pulp destroying stage sets in. The dead pulp decomposes and the infected material passes through the root of the tooth, to the underlying supporting tissues and the bone, forming a pus leading to an abscess formation.

Prevention

Now as we understand caries is a breakdown of tooth substance, by the acid produced by plaque bacteria in the presence of dietary sugars. Caries can be prevented by restricting sugar intake to main mealtimes, and by making teeth more resistant to acid attack. The most important substance in this role is fluoride. The simplest and most convenient form of topical fluoridation is brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride toothpaste allows the fluoride to penetrate the plaque in the same way as the dietary sugars. Saliva in the mouth neutralises the acid, produced by plaque bacteria. Salivary flow is least during sleep time. Hence it is absolutely necessary to brush daily before sleep. By promoting an increased salivary flow, the acid attack can be reduced. Fruits, cheese and sugar free chewing gum are substances effective in stimulating salivary flow.

 Use of these food between and at the end of meals will help  prevent caries. Elimination of stagnating areas also plays an important role in the prevention of caries.

Oral hygiene and dietary discipline are the patient's responsibilities in the prevention and control of dental caries. Oral hygiene is keeping the oral cavity clean, free of food particles and control of plaque accumulation. Cleaning of teeth can prevent plaque accumulation. This is best performed by brushing teeth effectively, removing accessible plaque. Using a fluoride toothpaste, with a brush will remove food debris and plaque leaving a film of fluoride on the tooth surface.

Effective cleaning

A toothbrush with a small head and multy-tufted, medium, nylon bristles will help in achieving effective cleaning. Effective tooth brushing requires time, knowledge and skills. For this a dentist's guidance is important. Although adequate tooth brushing removes plaque, it cannot prevent caries unless accompanied with strict dietary control of sugars.

The type of treatment given to a tooth diseased with caries, depends on the health of the pulp and the extension of the lesion, and the value of the tooth to the patient. The tooth may be filled, extracted or treated with root canal therapy. Prevention is better than cure. Hence it is advisable to have regular dental inspection every year. This will help to obtain treatment at the very early stage,  helping preserve  tooth tissues.

Dr. Mrs. A. L. D. Wickramasekere
Dental surgeon in Charge
National Institute of Dental Sciences,  Maharagama


The magic of youth...

When you reach middle age, you realise there are certain things you can't do like when you were young. You simply cannot keep up every˜ consecutive night˜ for a week and get up the next morning feeling fresh as a daisy and carry out your normal everyday routine. This makes you very irritable, you forget things, and if anyone dares to point it out, you bite their heads off !

You simply cannot admit that you are tired and all you want to do is sleep- you doggedly go with the flow, no matter what.ÿBut when you meet up with childhood friends with whom you haven't kept in touch with for years, you forget you are supposed to be a responsible adult, and are reduced to a giggling, screaming maniac !

The rest of the family look on in amazement and wonder if this is a passing phase. You are getting on their nerves. Who is this screechy loud person ? The telephone is constantly engaged and they are certainly not amused. The person who is constantly at their beck and call is suddenly not available 24/7. What a catastrophe !ÿYou also realise that it is not possible to dance non stop for one hour. You have to take a panting rest and watch your kids do various acrobatic stunts that they call dancing.

Poise confidence

I enjoy watching them, though, so vigorous, graceful and lively. Not at all self conscious like we used to be in the presence of strangers. Also, what poise and confidence they have, the way they speak and interact with strangers.  One nice thing is, you know that senile decay has still not set in, you can remember the words of the songs you sang when you were a teenager. When you shout it out at the top of your voice it sounds better.

People also basically remain the same, even though you expect some of them to mellow with time. Your favourite friends in your own 'gang' still remain special. Not that we were dangerous to others like some of the kids of today, only we kept company with each other more often than the others.

At this stage of life you can tell someone off soundly, unlike when you were young and did not want to be out of sync with the rest. I must say I enjoy being belligerent, quite stimulating to the senses, makes you feel so powerful.  Crazy people get even crazier with age. They jump into tractors for a bumpy ride, or pile themselves into trishaws screaming all the while, heads, arms, and legs sticking out from all sides.

No payment

The visitors from overseas are amazed that some of our locals do things for free without expecting any payment. Hats off to the local yokels!ÿThe downside of this is that you are basically eating the whole day. Things which you had forgotten existed suddenly appear, like pini jambu with lunu-kudu(delicious!), pineapple with salt and pepper, stuffed olives and achcharu ! The visitors have to be treated well, you see, so biriyani, lampries, crabs and all manner of delicacies have to be devoured. Even though you plan to skip the next meal, you just cannot do so.

Menus cannot be scrutinised without the aid of spectacles. It's so funny to see all of us putting them on.ÿYou have so much to talk about, you keep forgetting certain things and it all comes flooding back. Some spoke so much that they forgot they couldn't swim and had to be rescued before they drowned. Our husbands were glad when we went to nightclubs because for once we were quiet, the music was so loud that we could not  speak.

Anyway, we were too busy watching the antics of the young folk in amazement. Some of them behave atrociously. Gave us more fodder for our next conversation.   After a few days our kids got used to seeing and hearing us behaving like lunatics and joined us, themselves. One thing we discovered was that all the games we planned could not t be played, when 'Dog and the Bone' was suggested, we asked for the 'bones' to be put on a table as we could not  bend.  Some of us could not  even hop to play hopscotch.

We also could not  do scissor jumps for the dodge ball. We put on our spectacles to see the marbles we were supposed to play . Ah well, we still had a great time!

Honky Tonk Woman


How safe are  female volunteers?

Satya Byock goes over project details with T. Punithan. Right, a foreman on an agriculture project funded by her aid group, and T. Sundararajah, a farmer who is working with the group. Byock returned to her native country from nine weeks of freelance aid efforts in a Sri Lankan town devastated by tsunami

By Easwaran Rutnam

With so many foreign individual volunteers converging in Sri Lanka to help the tsunami victims, fears for their safety, especially the females, has now become a hot topic.

The American press reported a few weeks ago that a young girl from the US was almost raped by a police officer in Komari in April, while The Sunday Leader has learnt that two other foreign female volunteers were nearly raped in the east, just a few weeks after the tsunami.

The reports have raised concerns on how safe these volunteers are and whether they will have second thoughts on visiting the island to help tsunami victims.

Some Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) operating in the country feel that the element of physical risk to females working in the tsunami affected areas cannot be ignored and it is best that they work in groups.

World Vision Country Director, Yu Hwa Li told The Sunday Leader that they normally provide secure accommodation for their volunteer workers.

"We will never leave them alone. We always make sure they are in groups and in proper accommodation. Not a tent," Lee said.

Oxfam Media Spokesman, Ravi Prasad says the organisation will never encourage female volunteers to be on their own in tsunami tents.

"We have female workers but physical danger has never been a case because we take every possible precaution for their safety," Prasad said.

Li said that there is a security department that operates a programme on the safety of the  volunteers and added that it will be advisable for individual volunteers to sign up with an organisation for their safety.

Meanwhile when contaced by The Sunday Leader, IGP Chandra Fernando said that he will inquire into the incident reported in the Washington Post incident as he was not aware of it.

Report from the Washington Post

Komari, Sri Lanka — She was fresh out of college, bright-
eyed and ambitious, an earthy, well-read physician’s
daughter from Missoula, Mont., with an iPod, a loving family and lots of big ideas. The only thing Satya Byock said she lacked was "a freaking plan."

The tsunami gave her one. Two months after the December 26 calamity in South Asia, equipped with high hopes and $13,000 in donated funds, Byock made her way to this remote fishing and farming community on Sri Lanka’s east coast. Here, she joined forces with several other volunteers — including a firefighter from Washington State and a young Australian couple — in an ad hoc recovery effort.

Byock hooked up with a tsunami relief group in her home town of Missoula, helped raise money and learned about Komari from her local newspaper. An aunt bought her a plane ticket to Colombo, where she landed on February 19.

The money Byock brought with her from Missoula, along with funds raised elsewhere, swelled the team’s coffers to about $40,000.

But she had other problems. Byock ran afoul of a local police official, who found her at home by herself one afternoon and made what she regarded as "inappropriate" overtures. Word of the episode got back to the man’s superiors, who reprimanded him, Byock said. The official then turned hostile, demanding repeatedly to see her passport — which she feared was a prelude to deportation — and interfering with her work.

Byock’s troubles with the police official, however, were not over. During a meeting that week with the man’s superior, she and her colleagues learned that the officer was due to be transferred as a consequence of her complaint about his behaviour. Fearing retribution by the officer or one of his friends, all three decided it would be best if Byock left the country as soon as possible.

In a hotel lobby in Colombo shortly before her departure, Byock was philosophical as she reflected on her nine weeks in Komari. She expressed confidence that the work she started would continue, tempered with regret that she would not be around to see it. And far from being disillusioned by the experience, she said she would like to return to Sri Lanka, albeit as a paid development specialist.

"I don’t feel like I failed," she said.
— John Lancaster


A helping hand from the round Table

By C.B.M.Joseph

President, Round Table International, Tom Albrigtsen of Norway is currently on a short visit to Sri Lanka to oversee the execution of the tsunami relief activities undertaken by that organisation in the tsunami affected areas in Sri Lanka.  The Round Table is an International association of young men between the ages of 18 and 40, who devote some of their free time to build new friendships, to make the world a better place.  The  organisation was founded in the United Kingdom in 1927 by Louis Marcheshi.

Though the fellowship, is their forte, Round Table International also does charity work and community service all over the world.  Round Table Sri Lanka has a history of over 14 years, and its current president is Tabler Tushar Amalean.  The motto of this organisation is 'Adopt, Adapt and Improve.'  It also has a sister organisation in Sri Lanka for the wives of its members, and is called, Ladies Circle Sri Lanka.

The current president of this organisation is Thushi Fonseka.

Tom Albrigtsen was interview by The Sunday Leader, and below are excerpts of the interview

Q.  Round Table International has been described as an association of young men focusing mainly on community service, fellowship and indirectly teaching leadership qualities.  Can you elaborate?

A:Yes.  Round Table International is an association of young men - between the ages of 18 and 40 - who devote some of their free time to build friendship towards making the world a better place.  Round Table exists in 79 countries, with a membership of over 40,000 around the world.  These members, who are called Tablers, are linked into a new world of common values and ideas, and  carry  the belief that talking, understanding and helping each other is the best way to avoid confrontation.  We are neither a political nor a religious organisation.  Our membership consists of people - people from all walks of life - embracing representation of nearly every profession and occupation, and promotes social-interactivity, fellowship, understanding, especially amongst peoples of different culture, language and political backgrounds.

Q: How long has the Round Table been operating in Sri Lanka, and what really has been its role?

A: Round Table has been operating in Sri Lanka for the past 14 years, and has been involved in fellowship, charity and community service.  To talk about our recent activities - Immediately after the tsunami, we were engaged in providing food and supplies to the tsunami affected people. In fact, we were among the first, to respond to the needs of the affected people.

Q: In addition to the temporary relief you offered to the affected people, how are you involved in post-tsunami activities.

A: Currently we are involved in repairing/rebuilding four partially damaged schools, and the work is estimated to cost around US $  2.2 million.  The schools are

(1)      Hegalla Maha Vidyalaya in Kosgoda, Balapitiya in the south.  The student population there is around 1,600.

(2)   Hikkaduwa Maha Vidyalaya, which has 600 children.

(3)   Patuwatta Lanka Sabha Vidyalaya, Hikkaduwa.  It has around 250 children.

(4)Punitha Arulananda Vidyalaya, Batticaloa has 250 students. 

 There are altogether 2,700 to 3,000 students being served by our activities.

Q: Are the buildings coming up at the same sites the schools were originally located, or are they being relocated.

A:Hegall  Maha Vidyalaya in Balapitiya has about five acres of land, and there is no question of shortage of land there. So, the work there has been programmed into four phases.  The first and  second phases are being taken together, and they include buildings for the library, laboratory, computer room and similar functional buildings.  Everything possible is being done for the work to progress without disturbing the students.  The work has been awarded to a contractor after following proper tender procedures.  The work will be supervised by our members who are engineers and architects.  Phases three and four will include other facilities.  The other schools need to be shifted, as they are within the 100  metre buffer zone, and alternative land has to be found by the Ministry of Education. One of these schools has already been allocated land, and land for the other schools is in the process of being identified

Incidentially, as these four schools were partially damaged - i.e. about 60% damaged - the work would involve repairing as well as building anew.  However, as three of these schools have to be shifted, it would involve new construction.


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