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Japan supports project to improve facilities of Special Needs Children’s Centre in Buttala 

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Japanese Ambassador SUGIYAMA Akira and President of the Surangani Voluntary Services Wickramage Nalin Vipulendra.

The Government of Japan provided a grant of US$ 83,692 (approx. Rs. 15 million) for “The Project for Improving Facilities of Centre for Disabled Children in Buttala, Moneragala” through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). The grant contract was signed on 30th November 2020 between Japanese Ambassador SUGIYAMA Akira and President of the Surangani Voluntary Services Wickramage Nalin Vipulendra at the former’s residence in Colombo.

Given that 2 percent of children aged between 5 and 14 years have some form of disability and are excluded from mainstream education with participation declining with age, the Government of Japan remains steadfast to help the country achieve inclusive education through enhancements to ancillary services so that no one is left behind.  

The Little Tree Special Needs Children’s Centre in Buttala is home to 35 differently abled children and youth aged between 4 and 21 years and has provided educational opportunities and vocational training since its inception in 2010. It is also the only institution to offer a dedicated service for the entire Monaragala district. Surangani Voluntary Services started this center in response to requests from parents in Buttala where there had been no educational service for children with special needs back then.

This project aims not only to enhance educational facilities and uplift the quality of the vocational training environment but also to include the provision for a collective organic farm, sanitary facilities, a sick room, and a school van to increase attendance of students with special needs. 

Upon receiving the grant, Mr. Vipulendra in his remarks stated; 

“The Little Tree Special Needs Children’s Centre since its launch has grown by leaps and bounds especially with the support of the Japanese people. The Government of Sri Lanka is focusing on supporting persons with special needs and we at the centre continue to work with the objective of improving the quality of services provided especially, since both parents and children rely on us wholeheartedly. As a consequence of this valued service, we have not only attracted the attention of the community which holds this centre in high esteem, but also observes a recent influx of student enrollment which has been recognized by government officials.  It was also an honour for the parents to have met with the Ambassador at the centre on his last visit in September to see the activities carried out in the snack processing factory and the resource centre which intends to generate education and employment opportunities for the children. We are undoubtedly grateful to the people of Japan for their continued support and pledge to provide high quality services towards this worthy cause.” 



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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