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Rythm Foundation empowers women entrepreneurs in partnership with Sarvodaya

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Over 400 young women from vulnerable communities in Jaffna and Kilinochchi are being empowered with entrepreneurial skills to enable them to overcome poverty and build sustainable livelihoods under a unique initiative undertaken by Sarvodaya and RYTHM Foundation.

RYTHM Foundation, the social impact arm of the QI Group, focuses its efforts in the areas of education for all, gender equality and sustainable community development, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Headquartered in Hong Kong, the foundation operates in several countries to make a difference around the world, which includes a strong presence in Sri Lanka.

Since 2018, the foundation has collaborated with various local organisations around the country to facilitate sustainable development in underserved communities. This includes creating employment opportunities through a social enterprise project in the northern province, as well as promoting the social inclusion of persons with special needs in the Kandy district.

Sri Lanka holds a special place in the heart of the foundation as the birthplace of its chairperson, Umayal Eswaran. Having grown up in Colombo with altruistic parents who had an open-door policy of extending help to anyone who required it, Umayal has always had an innate sense of philanthropy that fuels her passion to uplift others. Thus, the principle the foundation was built upon – Raise Yourself To Help Mankind – and its ongoing quest to lend support to the most vulnerable segments of communities around the world.

“I believe it should be a second nature for humanity to reach out and help those who are in need, weak or vulnerable. When we have the capacity and resources to uplift struggling communities, we must do everything in our power to do so. It is our duty as citizens of the world. I am particularly grateful to be able to give back to the nation that raised and nourished me in my youth with the work that we have been doing through RYTHM Foundation,” said Umayal.

The current project with one of RYTHM’s earliest on-the-ground partners, Sarvodaya, kicked off in 2019 and despite COVID-19 related snags, hopes to continue until its completion this year. Courses in tailoring, beauty culture, mobile repairing, motor mechanics, craft, baking, cake decorating, food processing and many more are offered to young women from economically challenged circumstances to build their life skills under the programme.

It also addresses a lack of access to markets, technology and financial resources and provides training in leadership, entrepreneurship and small business management skills including workshops on engaging with microfinance institutions and banks.

Young women who have consistently faced challenges such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of skills in communities that are mostly made up of female-headed households, are often exposed to gender-based violence and often have to give up their higher education aspirations. Yet, the project has given them confidence and the ability to rise above their circumstances.

Courageous and talented participants such as Siyanuka from Thellipala who learnt business skills in manufacturing leather goods under the initiative, are thriving with their self-employment ventures.

“My family was not very supportive at the start but with the aid from Sarvodaya & RYTHM, I was able to start my leather products business and build a network of clients with my father’s support too” she says.

K. Sayanthini from Visuvamadu East is yet another young woman who was trained as a beautician under the programme. Today, she has built a successful beauty business and provides her services to her community.

These women and many others have had their livelihood potential enhanced while entire communities have benefitted from the project. RYTHM Foundation & Sarvodaya are pleased to have empowered these women economically to transform their lives through this partnership. The foundation hopes to continue working with vulnerable communities in Sri Lanka through collaboration with other grass root level partners such as Sarvodaya.



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Manudam Mehewara Initiative by Dialog, MAS, Hemas & CBL reach 10,000 families, invites all corporates to Join its countrywide emergency relief mission

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Emergency relief is currently being distributed across all 25 districts

In a mission to provide emergency relief to the most vulnerable communities across the country amidst the ongoing economic crisis, the ‘Manudam Mehewara’ initiative reached its first milestone of aiding over 10,000 families in-need.

 Joining hands with like-minded partners including its execution partner Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement and independent auditor PwC Sri Lanka, Manudam Mehewara was initiated by Dialog Axiata PLC, MAS Holdings, Hemas Holdings PLC, and CBL Group with the end goal of providing emergency support to over 200,000 vulnerable families and communities across the country that do not have access to essential supplies and basic necessities. ITN, Siyatha, Swarnawahini, TV Derana and Vasantham are also supporting the initiative as media partners.

Emergency relief is currently being distributed across all 25 districts, and the Manudam Mehewara programme will conduct its relief efforts until a sustainable benefit transfer system is established through an effective recovery plan. Manudam Mehewara invites all corporates to join our shared mission to support over 200,000 vulnerable families across Sri Lanka.

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Ninewells Hospital raises awareness on thyroid disease in newborns to commemorate World Thyroid Day 2022

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Ninewells Hospital, Sri Lanka’s leading woman and childcare hospital in the private sector, commemorates World Thyroid Day on 25th May by emphasising the significance of early detection and treatment of Congenital Hypothyroidism among newborns in Sri Lanka.

Congenital hypothyroidism (CHT) is a condition affecting infants from birth, and refers to an absent thyroid gland or a thyroid gland that is present but is unable to produce adequate thyroid hormones. On average, 1 in 4,000 babies are born with a severe form of CHT in Sri Lanka, while milder forms can be seen more commonly. If left untreated, the condition can affect brain development as well as normal growth in children and adolescents. Conversely, if detected and treated early, the damaging effects of CHT can be reversed and prevented completely.

“As Sri Lanka’s leading private sector childcare health service provider, we want to draw attention to the serious implications of Congenital Hypothyroidism on World Thyroid Day this year. Congenital Hypothyroidism is a condition which has a detrimental impact on postnatal development. For this reason, early detection and treatment is vital and should ideally begin within the first two weeks after birth,” said Dr. Vibash Wijeratne, Chief Operations Officer and Director, Ninewells Hospital.

In 2021 Ninewells Hospital unveiled a Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) testing facility to support Sri Lanka’s national program for screening newborns for CHT and the country’s vision for a healthier population. Since then, the hospital has carried out over 8,000 tests in 2021 and over 2,000 tests between January and May of 2022.

With the unveiling, Ninewells Hospital became the first in the private sector to introduce a TSH screening machine and became one of the only two hospitals in the country to offer this screening service.

“The screening for CHT is a simple process that is performed using a heel prick test. At Ninewells, the test report following the screening is issued within a short span of three days which is unprecedented in the country. This allows healthcare providers to begin immediate treatment to avoid development impediments in newborns and infants,” Dr. Wijeratne also said.

Ninewells Hospital is Sri Lanka’s premier women’s and children’s hospital in the private sector, providing a variety of specialty services such as Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Paediatrics, and Fertility. The hospital, which is backed by the Access Group of Companies’ visionary leadership, continues to push boundaries and raise the bar for women’s and children’s healthcare in Sri Lanka.

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SL plunges into worst economic contraction in the wake of dramatic currency collapse – CBSL Governor

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

Sri Lanka will witness the worst economic contraction in its history, as it reels from a currency collapse of the rupee from 200 to 370 to the US dollar and interest rates contracted above 20 per cent, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

“Sri Lanka is going through severe fuel shortages and power cuts after the credibility of a soft-peg was broken by mis-targeted interest rates in the course of targeting an output gap (printing money to boost growth) under the Keynesian ideology, Weerasinghe said while addressing the Press Club of the Sri Lanka Press Institute. The event was held at the Colombo Hilton on Monday.

Weerasinghe added: “At this juncture we cannot make normal imports for the next three to six months. Industries are saying there is no raw material. Only essential imports can be made on a priority basis in order to maintain day- to- day activities.

‘Sri Lanka’s economy contracted 3.6 per cent in 2020 amid the Coronavirus crisis and it also contracted 1.5 per cent in 2001, after a soft-peg crisis amid a civil war.

‘The latest failure of the unstable peg with the US dollar came after the Central Bank printed over two trillion rupees over two years to mis-target interest rates, leading to a steep collapse of the currency and a correction of the interest rates back to around 20 to 25 per cent.

‘The economic crisis has also spilled over into a political crisis and social unrest.

‘The rupee’s 2022 fall to 380 to the US dollar from 200 to the dollar is the worst currency crisis created by the soft-pegged Central Bank in its 72- year- old history.

‘The money printing Central Bank created its first economic crisis and output shock in 1953, bringing down growth to 0.7 per cent after triggering a now famous “hartal”.

‘An Exchange Control Act was also enacted in 1952 as the printed money from the newly set up Central Bank scrambled to go out, in a phenomenon that was repeated multiple times over the next 70 years and dragged the country into 16 IMF programs.

‘The unstable Central Bank was set up by a US money doctor in 1950 in the style of Argentina’s BCRA, abolishing a Currency Board that had kept the country stable through two World Wars and the Great Depression, where money printing above the external anchor was outlawed.

‘The worst recorded crises in the country include the 1948 uprising against the then colonial administration which took place after the British railway bubble burst, commodity prices fell and the then colonial government upped taxes. However, there is no information on the economic contraction that year.

‘Sri Lanka’s citizens burnt the houses and property of the elected ruling class on May 9, after the unstable peg collapsed in a botched float where interest rates were not allowed to go up before the float and a surrender rule pushed the rupee down.

‘Interest rates were allowed to go up after my appointment as CBSL Governor and the economy is now slowing and the headlong crash of the rupee peg has slowed.’

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