The Japan - Sri Lanka Friendship Association (JSFA), endorsing its wholehearted support to the Sri Lanka Army once again, donated an ambulance and a fire engine during a brief ceremony at Army Headquarters on Monday (23).
The JSFA, presided by Dr Lal Thilakarathne with the generous support of the Japanese philanthropists and members of Japanese Lions Clubs, has been in the practice of providing many such emergency vehicles and equipment to the Army in the recent years as symbols of ever-strengthening bonds of goodwill and friendship between two nations.
Ichinomiya Lions Club, which has so far donated more than seven ambulances and fire engines to the Army and the Japanese team currently on tour in Sri Lanka, is comprised of twenty members, including the philanthropist, Mr Ogura Akichika, Mr Ono Tsu, Senate member of the Gifu City, Japan, Dr Lal Thilakarathne and Dr (Mrs) Eranga Thilakarathne.
The day’s donation ceremony kicked off soon after the Japanese donors and the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya arrived at the venue at Army Headquarters to a warm welcome. Traditional up country Ves dancers conducted them to the ceremony.
Hoisting of National Flags of Japan and Sri Lanka, together with the Army flag and the subsequent playing of national anthems of both countries, marked the formal commencement of the day’s proceedings.
Major General G.D.H.K Gunaratne, Adjutant General, on behalf of the Army, extending a warm welcome to the delegation, recalled the series of goodwill gestures that have been hitherto made by the JSFA to the Army, considering the national importance of the assignments, being undertaken by the Army.
Brief addresses of two Japanese representatives and Dr Thilakarathne, President JSFA brought the occasion to the apex when the Commander was invited to symbolically receive the keys for both donated vehicles, signifying the formal acceptance.
Attaching monumental significance to the event, the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Jayasuriya afterwards presented symbolic mementos to heads of the visiting donors and Dr Thilakarathne who has been the untiring live-wire behind the project for so many years. The move was reciprocated with similar tokens of appreciation by the visiting Japanese team before the culmination of the ceremony.
The visiting Japanese delegation was expected to enjoy a cultural show at the Army Headquarters later on Monday (23).
Ven. Hanwelle Dhammaloka Thero, Major General H.C.P Goonetillake, Military Secretary, Major General S. Udumalagala, Quarter Master General, Major General K.J Alwis, Director General General Staff, Major General G.D.H.K Gunaratne, Adjutant General, Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Medical Advisor, several senior officers and a few more invitees were present at the ceremony.
During their stay in Sri Lanka, the Japanese delegation will distribute wheelchairs, spectacles, books, school uniform clothes, scholarships, toilet facilities, etc among remote villagers and school children. The JSFA, founded in 1999, in addition to free donation of vehicles to the Army, has been at the forefront of donating a large stock of school accessories, community facilities and other essentials to both civilians and students alike.