Drama Festival to support Children’s Home in Sri Lanka

Venkat Raman
Auckland, September 25, 2018

A not-for-profit, charitable organisation is conducting a Drama Festival in aid of poor children in Sri Lanka.
Gandhi Illam New Zealand Trust is organising the event on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at Mt Eden War Memorial Hall located at 487 Dominion Road, Mt Eden.
Suren Surendran, who is known to the communities in New Zealand as a singer, cricketer, philanthropist and champion of social and community causes, is organising this event with a group of dedicated volunteers. He is also a Trustee of Gandhi Illam.
About Gandhi Illam

He said that Gandhi Illam New Zealand Trust was established in 2008 in Auckland to raise funds to support a children’s home in Mannar, a small town in the North West of Sri Lanka. “The initial fundraising was developed through a system of regular monthly donations (‘A Dollar a Day’ concept) and still remains a major source of funds. The net proceeds of two major music concerts held in the recent past in Auckland (Dr K J Yesudas in 2012 and Rajesh Vaidhya and Super Singers in 2017 were donated to Gandhi Illam,” he said.
Mr Surendran said that since its inception ten years ago, Gandhi Illam New Zealand Trust has mobilised and donated more than $400,000 to poor people in the North and East Sri Lanka. “The Trust operates on a 100% pass through basis with any local expenses paid for by private sponsorships and other contributions.  Other fundraising endeavours include annual variety shows and contributions for special meals and special projects,” he said.
Trust Beneficiaries
Among the beneficiaries of the Trust are (a) Homes for more than 120 children (b) Special Children receiving meals to celebrate significant days of sponsors (c) Families to set up and operate cottage industries (d) Water wells for communities (e) Women on full-time employment at Early Childhood Education Centre (f) Children who are piloted through technical pathways.

Children, among the main beneficiaries
Mr Surendran admitted that there was more work to be done.
“The needs of the families are more critical than ever as they look to build a sustainable livelihood so that the children are able to learn and grow in a secure and stable environment.
The forthcoming Drama Festival is a part of our efforts to address this challenge,” he said.
Internal War in Sri Lanka
Mr Surendran said that despite the romantic notions and beauty of the land, Sri Lanka has suffered immeasurably from the prolonged internal war that lasted over 30 years.
“The war came to an end in May 2009 when the Government forces finally captured the last stretch of the land in Mullivaikal in the North East of Sri Lanka. So brutal was this war that many thousands of people lost their lives and the progress of the country was pretty much put on hold during this time,” he said.
He said that the people of North and East Sri Lanka were among the worst sufferers and that constant bombings, escalating fighting, destruction of economic infrastructure have forced people to leave their traditional places of abode and take refuge into make shift camps, forests and any empty land.
Penniless exodus
“They left their houses, belongings, livestock, agricultural machinery, factories, shops and ran for their lives, barely clutching on to whatever they could carry. All or most of what they left were either bombed, destroyed or looted. Many who could not run, were caught in the fighting and perished or bore permanent scars from the deadly war,” he said.
Since 2009, a massive rebuild and rehabilitation effort has been undertaken by the government and various NGOs, Mr Surendran said.
For further details about the forthcoming Drama Festival, please contact Suren Surendran 021-952747.


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