Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary Defence and Urben Development, attaching importance to a unique project flew to Kaththankulam, Mannar to ceremonially open the Army-rebuilt two storied new orphanage, ‘Blessed Virgin’s Children’s Home’ which was destroyed by terrorists in 2005.
The new Army-built two storied children’s home at a cost of Rs 5.9 million, saving a record Rs 1.1 million against the estimated cost for exclusive purchase of furniture to the project, is designed to house more than 50 girls (6 -20 years) from parentless, single parent, orphaned and poor Wanni families.
Currently, 20 such girls from the Wanni area are receiving care and education under the custodianship of reverend sisters and administrators.
At the time, the war came to an end, those 20 girls were compelled to be confined to a mere cadjan-thatched construction after the terrorists directed fire on and towards the complex.
Major General Udaya Perera, Commander, Security Forces Headquarters, Kilinochchi (SFHQ-KLN) who served Malaysia as Sri Lanka’s envoy some time back before he assumed duties in Kilinochchi volunteered to mobilize the support of Malays of Sri Lankan origin, resident in Malaysia for this worthy cause of re-building and succeeded in receiving the much-needed monetary support for the reconstruction project.
On the directives given by Mr Rajapaksa, taking a personal interest in the project, its resurgence was made quicker than planned with active participation of the Army Engineers and soldiers in its construction.
Rev Sister Theresa, Matron, ‘Blessed Virgin’s Children’s Home’, together with other staff welcomed the visiting Defence Chief, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Chief Guest for the opening ceremony of the new Children’s Home. He unveiled the plaque afterwards and lit the traditional oil lamp before he saw the new complex for himself, in the company of the Commander of the Army, SFHQ Commanders, General Officer Commanding, 54 Division and administrative authorities.
Brief addresses of the Chief Guest, a Malaysian representative and the General Officer Commanding 54 Division, plus a few cultural feats, added colour and entertainment to the event.
During Mr Rajapaksa’s brief address to the occasion soon after the ceremonial opening, he explained the series of infrastructure-building measures that have so far been launched in the war-ravaged Wanni sector for the benefit of Tamil and Muslim civilians.
“Representatives from 101 countries have so far visited North and Wanni areas after the war and they all received the firsthand information as regards development roles, now on. Such visits prove the fact that so many international communities are interested in the reconstruction process”, he added.
When some 12,000 LTTE combatants surrendered, President Mahinda Rajapaksa personally instructed to take them directly to Rehabilitation Centres, having made them to languish in detention camps instead. No military in the world would ever dare to do so much for the people in the aftermath of a long-drowned war, the Secretary Defence pointed out.
In appreciation of the special dedication shown by the Secretary Defence and Urban Development and the Army which made it a reality within a short span, several mementos were presented by the authorities at the new Children’s Home at the end of the day’s proceedings.
Mannar Bishop, Clergy of major faiths, state officials, civilians and other invitees attended the opening ceremony.