Monday, 27 April 2020/PUB03/DON
Dear Friends & Well-Wishers,
As of Monday 27 April 2020, 1400hrs, the number of identified COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka have reached five hundred and twenty-three (523) and reported number of deceased at seven (07)*. To overcome the public health challenges posed by COVID-19, different measures have been introduced especially limiting the mobility of people by imposing lockdowns and curfew. It is probable that community transmission is coming into realization at different layers and that precautionary actions need to be in place to prevent further transmission of the virus.
We commend the hard work of the National Health Services, the law enforcement agencies and other bodies trying their best to contain the situation amidst various resource and technical limitations. The Civil Society and Community Based Organisations have conducted many efforts to promote public awareness as well as providing necessary gear and food relief to the most vulnerable and is highly commendable.
A) Internal Organisation Wide Responses:
The Lanka Jathika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya Inc. being the main legal body of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement and its affiliated legally and operationally independent specialized organizations, employ over one thousand two hundred (1200) fulltime staff and involve thousands of volunteers. Abiding by local regulations we have immediately declared leave from work (paid) for all our employees on the very first week, as social distancing has been identified as one of the most effective ways of preventing the transmission. However, work-from-home policy (WFHP) has been implemented to our Senior Management and District Coordinators who almost work around the clock coordinating, planning and designing critical responses to the crisis.
Our top priority was the health, safety and the wellbeing of our valuable work force, therefore we disseminated health information and situational updates of the local and global situation through electronic and other medium to them and their families. Our internal staff awareness therefore multiplies and trickles down to their extended families as well as the wider urban and rural communities they live in.
The week before lock-down and curfew, we immediately took steps to ensure preventive measures by extending our existing hand washing and sanitizing facilities at the Headquarters, District Centres and Educational Institutions. We also trained our staff on the basic preventive measures related to the same.
In complying with local regulations, all national and grassroots training programmes, projects, activities, community gatherings and meetings have been postponed until further notice as a preventive measure. All Sarvodaya residential and training facilities have been shutdown to prevent any possible risk of COVID-19 contact and transmission.
Our policy remains after weeks that our programme staff are fully engaged from home as much as possible and only a very few number of field staff, abiding by the regulations operate at the field level to coordinate diverse relief efforts.
B) Community Awareness Initiatives:
Under our Public Health mandate, we took a leading role in providing vital information to the public in local languages (Sinhala and Tamil). Creative social media posts amplified key health messages provided by the Health Promotion Bureau of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Being a Public Health Specialist, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne -President of Sarvodaya, took the lead in disseminating vital health information to the general public with action visuals and influential communication. These were disseminated across Sarvodaya Social Media channels and reached a significantly large social media audience. (The source links could be accessed in the reference section.)
We have designed and released different online awareness material in tri-lingual format on how communities should abide by regulations maintaining good practices.
C) Monitoring the Current Situation and Planning Responses:
Led by the President and the Executive Director, our Senior Management, regularly discuss and evaluate the national and district level developments. Our nationally based twenty-five Sarvodaya District Coordinators (representing the 25 administrative districts of Sri Lanka) connect via Microsoft Teams enabling bi and multi-lateral communication between the Headquarters and District Centres on a daily and on a needs-basis throughout the clock.
The District Staff plays a pivotal role in liaising with the Government Agents, Officials, District and Divisional Secretaries, Medical Officers of Health (MOHs), Health Officials including Public Health Instructors and Law Enforcement Agents. Apart from that, Sarvodaya District Representatives constantly communicate with their respective Sarvodaya Shramadana Societies (villages), and adjacent communities to address public health concerns by providing necessary awareness material and most importantly to offer them solace in this time of crisis.
D) Latest Interventions and Engagements:
D1) Temporary handing over of Sarvodaya Facilities throughout the island to the Government
All Sarvodaya training and residential facilities around the country have been offered to the Government to be utilised as quarantine centres. As a humanitarian organisation we believe and promote that our strength is our community and that these gestures of kindness and compassion would bring about greater benefits to the communities we serve while inspiring other establishments to take the lead in providing services in this time of crisis. In so doing;
i) Upon the request of the Ministry of Health, Sarvodaya has released residential facilities at its Development Education Institute at Anuradhapura of the North Central Province to accommodate patients who are on dialysis due to Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown aetiology (CKDu), as the special care centre dedicated to this purpose has been converted to a Quarantine Centre. Daily, a minimum of twenty-five patients are tended at this facility.
ii) Upon the request of the Divisional Secretary of Bandaragama we have released the Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning, Bandaragama of the Kalutara District to establish a quarantine centre for the Kalutara District. Currently the centre has been utilised by relevant authorities hosting over twenty-six (26) villagers from Atalugama, Bandaragama.
iii) The Residential block of the Sarvodaya Hambantota District Centre has been released as a quarantine Centre.
iii) Our centres in Matara and Matale have been identified as potential quarantine centres for those districts, we shall release these centres upon request of the relevant authorities.
iv) Sarvodaya ECD Training residential centre based in Moratuwa has been released to the Army Orchestra Troop.
D2) Sarvodaya Suwa Setha Sewa Society Care Homes
Sarvodaya has given greater emphasis to the Sarvodaya Suwa Setha Homes (elderly, children’s, and teenage mothers homes) island wide, regarding their safety, sustenance, provisions and medical needs during this time of crisis. Physical security of these premises has been increased and strict health regulations are in place to protect the care giving staff and the respective vulnerable groups they deal with. Relevant District Representations are specially alerted about the special circumstances and regulations in place so they could maintain constant contact with the management of the homes to assure and guarantee there smooth and safe operations.
D3) Civil Society Collective for COVID-19 Response
Co-chaired by Dr Vinya Ariyaratne, the CSO Collective for COVID-19 response has been established at Sarvodaya headquarters. This initiative will directly report to the Prime Minister’s office and subsequently to the Presidential Task Force established for COVID-19 responses. It will look into the welfare of care homes (Government and Private children’s homes, Government and Private elders’ homes, Rehabilitation centres, Probation centres, Safe houses for women and Centres for people with disabilities) in this time of crisis giving special attention to supply of food and healthcare to the beneficiaries throughout the twenty five administrative districts in Sri Lanka.
D4) Relief Distribution
Sarvodaya District Centres throughout the island have been engaging with their respective communities to call upon philanthropists and well-wishers to contribute to different funding drives. District Centres in partnership with Sarvodaya Shramadana Societies based in Colombo, Anuradhapura, Galle, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Monaragala, Puttalam, Kalutara, Jaffna, Gampaha, Kandy, Nuwaraeliya, Matale, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Kilinochchi have played a significant role in coordinating and dispersing the much-required relief packages to vulnerable communities, daily waged workers and poverty stricken communities.
(Please inquire our Director Field Operations (email@example.com) for detailed information on distributions and to know more details about the said initiatives)
D5) International Recognition for Our Work and International Partnerships
It is with great pleasure, pride and humility we note the decision of the British Asian Trust – UK (https://www.britishasiantrust.org) to select Sarvodaya as its Trusted Partner for COVID-19 Response in Sri Lanka (https://www.britishasiantrust.org/our-work/sri-lanka/). The British Asian Trust was founded in 2007, by HRH The Prince of Wales and a group of British Asian business leaders, to tackle widespread poverty, inequality and injustice in South Asia. British Asian Trust notes “We are working with Sarvodaya, a well-established NGO in Sri Lanka operating for many years and with extensive experience of emergency response. Sarvodaya are providing emergency financial support for food and other critical supplies during the crisis”.
E) Action Plan and Proposals
We are in the process of carefully planning action to mitigate the immediate as well as the long-term unprecedented challenges that lies ahead of our Nation. Three key stages (Short, Medium and Long Term) have been identified (and in process) to respond to the ongoing and post-COVID-19 crisis.
E1) Immediate Plans:
Given the unpredictability of the COVID-19 transmission, following requirements have been identified as immediate relief needs requested by different bodies and communities.
- Procure dry rations to distribute amongst identified daily wage workers, low income families, families living below the poverty line and other most vulnerable community members.
- Providing improvised Face Masks and Protective Gear to medical staff at identified hospitals due to shortage of these necessities.
- Providing refreshment packs for Medical Staff at selected Government Hospitals.
E2) Short Term
- Work with relevant institutions (Government and Non-Government) and strengthen the implementation of the national action plan.
- Emphasise the health, safety and well-being of Medical Staff and health care providers.
- Disseminate awareness-content among communities on safety measures utilising online and diverse physical medium.
- Create awareness on social acceptance (due to stigmatisation) of affected people, their families and tourists from overseas.
- Raising community concerns with relevant public authorities on challenges such as price-gouging, shortage of goods, services and regional disparities.
- Making public appeals to address the rising cases of domestic violence in time of crisis.
- Enhancing existing child protection mechanisms and caring for the most vulnerable children (disabled and street children).
E3) Mid-Term: (if the situation escalates)
- Increase the distribution capacity of cooked food, dry rations and medicine targeting the most vulnerable elderly population and disabled people with the support of youth volunteers.
- Establish a mechanism to manage the immediate economic crisis targeting daily wage workers, domestic workers, women headed families and small and medium business holders.
- Providing nourishment support to the individuals identified above, for a definite period to enable them to adjust to ordinary life.
- Provide monthly allowance to affected and identified families for a definite period (In consultation with the Grama Niladari and other Government bodies).
- Mid-term food security plan to promote home gardening and community gardens.
E4) Long Term
- Financially support school children of affected families especially those who are preparing for GCE Ordinary Level and Advance Level Examinations (Tuition Support).
- Ensure long term food security and increase the accessibility of nutritious food for communities by creating awareness on home gardening and hands on training.
- Community Gardening concepts (community owned) would be introduced to promote large scale organic-permaculture gardening which could lead to establish agriculture based social enterprising ventures.
F) Way Forward:
We have provided a situational update of our internal and external responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka. We welcome suggestions, proposals, constructive collaborations and partnerships to rise together in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak. Apart from our own community networks, we currently work with a significant number of Civil Society Organisations, Youth Groups and Professionals in planning out these vital actions. Please do not hesitate to connect with us for more information, clarifications and collaborations.
G) How you could Donate:
First and foremost, keeping the Sarvodaya spirit and values alive, we would very much welcome ‘Shramadana’ i.e. contributions of your time, services, skills and technical expertise to make our plans a reality.
Secondly, we would welcome donations of goods (please consult us on the requirements before you decide on your own)
Thirdly, we would welcome donations of financial nature to keep our services running and to provide the much-required supplies and services to those who at most need, so we would not leave anyone behind. (Please refer to the Financial Payments section on the reference below for transactional details.)
With much Metta! Let us Awaken All!
Lanka Jathika Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement (Inc.)
Dedicated Bank Account Details to Welcome Donations:
Bank Name: Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC
Account Name: Lanka Jathika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya
Account No: 1590048419
Bank Address: No.766, Galle Road, Idama, Moratuwa, 10400, Sri Lanka.
SWIFT Code: CCEYLKLXXXX
Online donations can be made through Sampath Bank Payment Gateway https://www.sarvodaya.org/donate/donate.html
And Paypal Donations can be made through www.sarvodayausa.org
Sarvodaya USA is our international representation in the United States of America. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a world of communities based on non-violence, service, and cooperation. Sarvodaya USA is a registered 501(c)(3) organization (13-3358148).
Video Links on Public Health Awareness:
*Number of patients sourced from https://www.hpb.health.gov.lk/en