Sri Lanka’s Autistic Community Needs Your Help

A massive Desmond de Silva concert on the 31st of March in Sydney Australia launches a campaign in 2006, International Asperser’s Year, to encourage Sri Lankan expatriates and philanthropists to help the 38,000 children and adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
‘Sri Lankans all over the world are responding to the clarion call to help all people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome on the island. I urge philanthropists, community organisations, business organisations, NGOs, churches, temples, mosques and other religious organisations to help children and people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome by raising funds to build Autism/SEN Units to existing Sri Lankan schools or even as stand-alone educational institutions from Jaffna to Galle, from Chilaw to Trincomalee. There are so many SEN children and adults in the towns and villages of Sri Lanka who desperately need help, ‘ said Ivan Corea of the Autism Awareness Campaign.

Organisations could work with the Rotary Club, Lions Club and other Sri Lankan charities to build these units. The costs are high – a fully equipped sensory room will cost around £30,000, and that is why an appeal has gone out to the Sri Lankan expatriate community all over the world as well as business and charitable organisations, to raise much needed funds for fully resourced Autism/SEN units on the island. There should be some co-ordination with the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka hence the need to work with established charities. The need is great. Many Sri Lankans would even ask the question: ‘What is Autism?’ The condition is confused with mental illness. People with autism think differently. As a result of the lack of awareness of the condition, many children are kept at home with out access to education, health, specialist speech therapy and respite care.

Ivan Corea of the Autism Awareness Campaign met with His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse (now the President of Sri Lanka) when he was Prime Minister. Mr. Corea spoke to H.E.Mahinda Rajapakse who was presented with an Autism Awareness Ribbon at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London. President Rajapakse recently speaking in Colombo said: “I want the fruits of our work for children to spread evenly throughout the country from Point Pedro to Dondra Head and Colombo to Batticaloa encompassing the entire land. There is one dream that drives me, that is to see all children be they Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and all others live as brothers and sisters of a single mother in the new Sri Lanka that we shall build,” President Rajapakse said.

Ivan Corea urged the President to look into the crying needs of the 38,000 autistic children in Sri Lanka. Life is a struggle for parents, carers and autists in Sri Lanka. Many remain undiagnosed. Teachers and medical professionals need training on autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Mr.Corea urged ‘Equality for All’ including children with special educational needs in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan superstar, Desmond de Silva known the world over as the ‘King of Baila,’ will headline the first ever Autism Concert for Sri Lanka in Sydney, Australia on the 31st of March. Desmond de Silva will be supported by the highly acclaimed Raddy Ferreira Orchestra. The exclusive dinner, backed by Ozlanka, will be held on the 31st of March 2006 at Oatlands House, 42 Bettington Av. Oatlands 2117. The Oatlands House Functions Centre is situated in Sydney’s Hills and Hawkesbury region -located in the north west of Greater Sydney. Sri Lankans are flying from all over Australia to Sydney to attend the Concert for Autism. Ticket sales have been very brisk.

De Silva created history by being the first ever Sri Lankan musician to appeal on behalf of people with autism in Sri Lanka at a concert held at the BMICH in Colombo. It is hoped that a massive Concert for Autism will be organised in August in Sri Lanka, headlined by Desmond De Silva. Other leading Sri Lankan musicians have come forward to support the Autism Awareness Campaign including Sunil Perera and the Gypsies, Mignonne Fernando of ‘The Jetliners’ fame and Nimal Mendis the distinguished singer/songwriter famous for his composition ‘Master Sir.’ Autism is back in focus with February 2006 as the Month of Prayer for Autism – Sunday 12th February was also the first International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Photo: Ivan Corea presents an autism awareness ribbon to HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

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