Anathi Project of Sri Lanka

International Teamwork Saves Young Lives

Eight-month old Dinesh of Kallady has been diagnosed as suffering from a cardiac condition known as Fallot's Pentology Disease that requires urgent specialized surgery.
Dinesh was only five days old when the tsunami destroyed his family house and nearly killed him and his family. Dinesh and his mother stand surrounded by rubble that is all that remains of his family's house.
The tsunami not only destroyed Dinesh's family house but also his mother's sewing machine with which she supplemented the family's meager income and his father's bicycle that he used to use to go out to seek work as a day labourer. Now they live in this tin shack beside the remains of their home.

Anathi Project and its parent organization the Living Heritage Trust do much more than to serve children's homes alone. We see ourselves as volunteer advocates for disadvantaged victims of natural disasters and globalization, especially widows and the aged and handicapped as well as children of course.

Needless to say, we expect nothing in return for our services from those who benefit from them. Through our network of Sri Lankan and international volunteers, we identify needy cases and connect them with individual donors or NGOs or whosoever is in a position to help them with whatever they most need. In most cases, no funds pass through our hands at all.

For example, over the months since we opened our east coast Living Heritage Trust disaster relief field office following the tsunami, we have been accepting requests for help from hundreds of families, often with no breadwinner, or only widows or aged or handicapped who are responsible for maintaining a family.

Among them have been requests from poverty stricken families requesting assistance so that a child can obtain life saving cardiac operations. These operations typically cost from US$2600 to $3600 to perform locally in Sri Lanka's best hospitals in Colombo.

At the time, however, we had to tell families that, frankly, as a local Sri Lankan NGO we did not have that kind of money and did not know from where we could source it, but we would keep our eyes and ears open and if anything became available, we would let them know right away.

On 14 July 2005 while showing our Palamunai outrigger fishing boat construction project to the representative of a German donor agency, Anathi Project Coordinator Patrick Harrigan also introduced to her one of these the heart patients, 20 year old Mufeetha of Palamunai who was born with a hole in heart and whose family could not begin to raise the ca. US$2,500 cost of the operation prescribed to her by doctors in Colomobo.

The German donor not only pledged her foundation's support to fund the construction of up to 24 fishing boats with nets and engines for nearby Karaitivu village (each boat employs three fishermen, so that means 72 breadwinners will be going back to work) but also agreed to see that funds for Mufeetha's heart operation would be made available as quickly as possible as well. Within two weeks the President's Fund and the German donor jointly paid the entire Rs. 260,000 cost of performing Mufeetha's operation.

On 27 July, Mufeetha's cardiac operation was successfully performed at Nawaloka Hospital in Colombo. At last report Mufeetha was recuperating in Intensive Care and will be able to receive visitors soon. It will be a long road to Mufeetha's full recovery, but she, her family, and the entire village of Palamunai are very happy and grateful indeed both to the German donor for funding it, and to Living Heritage Trust volunteers for helping Mufeetha's family to meet the donor and obtain her support.

After hearing the news of Mufeetha's successful cardiac operation, Living Heritage volunteers visited the family of another heart patient, little Dinesh who lives just near to the LHT disaster relief field office. As fate would have it, Dinesh was just five days old when the tsunami destroyed his family's home in Kallady, Batticaloa. He and his family escaped, but afterwards doctors diagnosed Dinesh as having the heart condition known as Fallots Pentology Disease that requires urgent surgery. This particular kind of heart surgery can be performed locally in Colombo at a cost of Rs 350,000 (approx US$3,500) payable on admission.

Living Heritage volunteers came to meet Dinesh and his mother, photograph them, and especially to deliver to his family the good news that the the German donor will also consider making arrangements for the cost of the specialized heart operation for their little 8-month old darling Dinesh.

These are instances where Living Heritage Trust volunteers have been helping families regardless of whether it was the tsunami that turned their lives upside down, or something that happened separately from tsunami. And we could not go on doing this unless sympathetic folks in the West appreciate and are willing to underwrite our presence here (we say 'our presence' since no LHT volunteer is paid to work here).

Unless there is some source of revenue for Living Heritage relief and administrative operations here, eventually we will have to fold up our office, and that would be a sorry day not only for many hundreds of children in children's homes but also for hundreds of other beneficiary families as well.

For more information contact:

Patrick Harrigan Project Coordinator
Living Heritage Disaster Relief
Regional field office
Tiruchendur Road
Kallady, (Batticaloa District) Sri Lanka