Sri Lankan Friendship Bonding with Australia by Eng. Sarath Wijayapala, Past Chair
Mr. Lal Wickramatunga, Consul General Sri Lanka in Sydney drew the attention of Sri Lankan organisations in Sydney to the on-going drought conditions that was/is prevailing in New South Wales, Australia affecting the farming community and Australian families living in the rural areas of New South Wales.
He mentioned that, whilst acknowledging the contribution made by Australia during our difficult times due to natural and other disasters in Sri Lanka, it would be a welcome gesture for Sri Lankan Diaspora to extend our hand of friendship by raising dry food to be distributed to those affected by the drought via the Australian authorities.
Accordingly, the Sri Lanka Consulate General in Sydney arranged a meeting with the Sri Lankan Community Associations to discuss the possibilities for implementation of this proposal on 13 August 2018 which was attended by Eng. Sarath Wijayapala, then Chair of IESL NSW Chapter.
After the meeting discussions, it was agreed the best way to contribute is by way of dry food rations, which the different organisations will collect from their members via strategically located collection centers.
Consul General’s office developed the flyer to disseminate this request to the Sri Lankan community via the various associations.
IESL NSW Chapter put its efforts to support this worthy initiative and Eng. Rohitha Silva, then Vice Chair, agreed to offer his residence as a collection point. Rohitha was successful in collecting a significant amount of dry food rations at his collection point.
The collections continued from 18 August until 16 Sep 2018 and all the boxes were stored at Consul General residence pending hand over to the Lions Club “Need for Feed – Disaster relief”, who had the infrastructure in place to distribute these in an equitable way to needy farmers of NSW, as recommended by the New South Wales State Office of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Australian Authorities had commended this effort, the sentiment and generosity shown by the Sri Lankan community in this hour of need.
Most importantly, this was to be handed over as a donation from the Australian Sri Lankan community in NSW.
The dry rations collected through the joint effort of all Sri Lankan Associations, schools and individuals to be donated to the affected framing community of New South Wales were handed over to the Lions Club “Need for Feed” unit on 4th October, 2018 at a simple ceremony held at the official residence of the Consul General for Sri Lanka in New South Wales & Queensland. This was attended by Eng. Sarath Wijayapala, Eng. Rohitha Silva and Eng. Buddhi Wijerathna and several other Sri Lankan organisation representatives.
A hundred and thirty-nine boxes of dry rations were collected making this a great success.
Ms. Mary Lewicka, Deputy Director of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) was present at the distribution ceremony together with Lion Keith Stewart, Dist. Governor 201 N3 and Lion Derek Margerison, Dist. Governor 201 N5 and other Lions and Lion Ladies.
IESL NSW Chapter wishes to thank those members who had the compassion to help fellow Australians in need due to the severe drought and donated items.