Sunday, November 30, 2008


Green tea helps you to reduce weight

Tea, a blend of green tea, spearmint, grape seed and olive leaf, is said to cut blood pressure and make it easier for the body to process sugar.

Three cups of green tea a day could keep obesity at bay.

Research shows the tea helps the pounds melt away, even while still eating junk food.

Spearole Tea, a blend of green tea, spearmint, grape seed and olive leaf, also cuts blood pressure and makes it easier for the body to process sugar, a medical conference will hear tomorrow.

Researcher Dr. Lindsay Brown said: ‘If someone had told me you could do all these things with something as simple as green tea with olive extract I would said they’d been out in the sun too long.

‘It is simply amazing.’

Dr. Brown, a pharmacologist at Brisbane’s Queensland University, studied the effect of the tea on the health of a group of rats.

The creatures were fed a fat and sugar-laden diet which caused the amount of fat around their bellies to double in eight weeks and their blood pressure to soar.

When Spearole Tea was added to their diet, their waistlines and their blood pressure quickly returned to normal.

This was despite the continuing to eat junk food, the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress will hear.

Dr. Brown said it was likely three cups of the tea a day could also help people stay trim, improving overall health.

Warning that the obesity epidemic threatened to wipe out the gains achieved by improvements to heart health, he said: ‘The UK, the US and Australia all have something like 60 per cent of the adult population overweight or obese.

‘The decrease in cardiovascular mortality in the last 40 years has added on average six years to life expectancy.

‘That is the biggest increase in life expectancy in one generation in the history of the species.

‘The control of cardiovascular disease has had an amazing effect on survival and that is at risk from obesity.’

Dr. Brown said that experiments showed ibuprofen also help shed weight, however their side-effects mean they are unlikely to ever be recommended for such a purpose.

It is thought that both the drugs and the tea work by stopping the fat cells from releasing inflammatory chemicals that attract more fat causing them to grow in size.

The olive and grape components of the tea, which costs around 15 pence a cup, are likely to have a similar effect, while the spearmint adds to the flavour.

Dr.. Brown, whose research was funded by Spearole Tea’s manufacturer, Dr. Red Nutraceuticals, said: ‘The tea product is a safe and effective food alternative for confronting obesity and cardiovascular disease since the long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs in reversing weight gain is not viable.’

Previous studies have credited green tea with the ability to cut appetite and cholesterol and even cut the risk of cancer.

The Daily Telegraph



Child abuse cases exceed 1,000 - CPA

A record 1014 child abuse cases were reported during the first ten months of this year, the Child Protection Authority (CPA) said yesterday.

According to CPA statistics 394 child rights violations and 620 child abuse cases were reported during this period.

Senior, CPA official, Dimuthu Galappatti told the Sunday observer that although the CPA had taken precautionary measures including awareness programs to eliminate child abuse, it is reported that a large number of underage children employed as domestic workers have become victims.

"Although the Government spends a large sum of money every year to reduce the number of child abuse cases which has sharply increased in the recent past, children under the custody of elders are being abused," he said.

It is reported that influential persons find loopholes in the law to violate right of children.

He also said that authorities must take action against offenders without considering their status in society.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


43% women sexually harassed in buses, trains
By Piyalal Sirisena
Forty three percent of women commuters are victims of sexual harassment in public transport an islandwide survey has revealed, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, S. S. Wijerathne said at a press conference in Colombo yesterday.

Though Sri Lanka has secured 12th place for maintaining minimum gender discrimination out of 192 countries the sexual harassments in society has not decreased despite the recent legal reforms to protect women against such harassments, he said.

The press conference was held to mark the International Day for Preventing Violence Against Women.

Inaction on the part of the authorities, and the lack of knowledge of legal provisions has led to increase abuse of women in public transportation. The research has revealed that 30% of 5000 women participants in the survey said they believed that the law is not enforced against the culprits.

The chairman said that the Commission expects to expand its legal aid services in future by increasing the number of Legal Aid centers in the country. The Legal Aid Commission has 48 branches countrywide and it is planned to have a branch of the Legal Aid Commission in every court complex, he said.

Retired Judge Hector Yapa said the lack of legal knowledge in our society has made many of citizens inactive in protecting their rights. Though there is a presumption that everyone should know the law of the country, legal education has not become a part of the school curriculum, he said. He emphasized that law should be made a subject in schools and that would help resolve many of present social issues.



Traumatised girls EMERGE with dazzling skills
Whitney Johnson's mission in Lanka gets GLOBAL attention

Beautiful and colourful beads put together made the string sparkle and the nimble fingers which meticulously picked the tiny beads brought a smile to the face of the mentor as she sprinkled hope and meaning to the lives of hundreds of women thrashed by gloomy circumstances.

Whitney-Johnson put a smile on faces of those she had never met previously

Alia Whitney-Johnson first started making beaded jewellery when she was seven years old. Five years later, she transformed that hobby into a full-fledged business, and at 19 she turned her small childhood business into an international nonprofit organisation, empowering young Sri Lankan mothers made pregnant through rape and incest.

As a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Whitney-Johnson visited the college's Public Service Centre looking for summer opportunities. A short time later, she was on a plane headed to Sri Lanka to do tsunami relief work with people she had never met.

During her time in Sri Lanka, she visited a shelter for young mothers - some of them as young 10 or 12 - whose children were the products of incest or rape. That visit turned what was supposed to be just a summer activity into Whitney-Johnson's lifelong work and mission.

"I knew beading was something the girls could do regardless of their age, regardless of their education," she said. "I taught one beading class, and I honestly thought that would be it. Two days later, the girls' counsellor came back to me and said, 'There's a girl that's so proud of the necklace she made, she won't even take it off to shower.' That inspired Whitney-Johnson to do more, and she started the nonprofit organisation Emerge Global. Its goal is to help these girls - who often have been denied formal education, cast out of their families and literally locked away - gain confidence, respect and self-reliance.

Johnson's efforts shined as she was named one of 32 Rhodes Scholars from across the United Kingdom.

"For me, the incredible thing about this recognition is, it's brought a lot of attention to the challenges these girls are facing in Sri Lanka," said Whitney-Johnson, 22.

"These different awards have really helped me shed light on this issue that is really important to me." The girls make jewellery, which is sold both in Sri Lanka and in America. The proceeds are put into savings accounts for the young mothers, which they can access when they turn 18. Three years after Emerge Global first started, more than 60 girls ages 10-18 have benefited from the programme, and the participants are now teaching other young girls, giving them a chance to mentor each other and establish their own community.

Whitney-Johnson and sparkling creativity

The organisation also talks to the girls about their goals and ambitions, and works with them to help accomplish them. There are currently 45 girls in the programme. By the end of next year, Johnson would like to see that number reach 85.

"I studied environmental engineering because I was interested in satisfying fundamental human needs," she said. "I was really interested in access to clean water. That's kind of the same reason I started Emerge Global. These kids have been so broken, they have really lost the ability to have their own dreams, to have their own goals.

"They are all linked through my interest in international development and helping people create their own vision of the future." After graduating from MIT in January with a degree in civil and environmental engineering, Whitney-Johnson will move to England to begin studying international development at Oxford University.

The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover expenses while living in Oxford and all trips and transport to and from England, an estimated $500,000 per year, according to Elliot F.Gerson, American secretary of the Rhodes Trust.

She hopes to use both her degrees and the contacts she will make being a Rhodes Scholar to turn Emerge Global into a truly international organisation. She also wants to build a community and school for the girls in the organisation.

"I see her as using it as a way of not empowering herself as much as making a better world for everybody," said John Johnson, Whitney-Johnson's father. "I know she sees it the same way."

Whitney-Johnson is also a Truman Scholar. In 2007, she was recognised as one of Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women.



Social Dialogue
by Nadira Gunatilleke

Saving the younger generation
Last week we discussed about Sri Lanka's latest world record on the narrowest gender gap in the world. Today we are going to talk about violence against women. Here we discuss gender in society. The world celebrated the `International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women's last Tuesday (November 25 ).

According to one of the latest countrywide surveys done by the Legal Aids Commission, it is discovered that 43 per cent of Sri Lankan women who travel by buses and trains experience sexual harassment. The same survey says that two out of every five Sri Lankan women who use public transport services are being subjected to sexual harassment and it is school girls and young working women who are being subjected to sexual harassment more often.

According to the Gender Based Violence Forum (GBV Forum) in Sri Lanka the most prevalent types of violence against women are rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, forced prostitution and trafficking. In many cases these violations are hidden, this is especially true in domestic violence, which according to the UN Rapporteur on Violence Against Women is reported to have been experienced by 60 per cent of Sri Lankan women.

Those are not very healthy trends to be tolerated for a country like Sri Lanka which has a rich cultural heritage. During the past years media and various persons, organisations dealt with violence against women and how it can be prevented.

Significant amendments such as the adoption of the Women's Charter, the amendments to the Penal Code in 1995, Domestic Violence Act in 2005 etc, have introduced. But it seems nothing has worked so far to minimise the violence against women.

The best example is the media reports on various crimes committed against women in Sri Lanka. Everyday we can read at least one heart breaking story which says how an innocent women is being abused, raped or killed by a person or persons.

Some people see this as isolated incidents which do not have an impact on the female community of the country. But can we ignore such incidents?

These are not instant incidents that occur with no background. It is the the background which make us frightened and sick if we dig into it.

Many of us think that violence against women is born instantly from nowhere. But if we carefully examine how it happens we can identify the birthplaces of violence against women. Let us take once incident that took place at one state school in Wekada, Panadura area last week.

A fifteen year old school boy was sacked from his school for possessing a CD containing a pornographic film. But the school authorities discovered it while searching something else. That was a packeted illegal liquor brought into the school to celebrate a birthday of another student. The school authorities searched for packeted 'Kassippu' and found the pornographic film in a bag of a student.

But the worst part is not that. According to the mother of the boy who was sacked from the school, her son wants her to sleep with him every night. Not because she is his mother and he wants to be with her. It is because she is a `woman'. "My son is completely changed and he is acting like a lunatic", she said. The crying mother told her story to the school authorities and all others who came forward to support her and her son. Here comes the real story which gave birth to violence against women ! A guy who had a CD shop (most CD shops have blue films) had given the blue film to the boy and the boy had watched several pornographic films under the guidance of this CD shop owner.

Now the school boy is under treatment. So far nothing has happened to the CD shop owner who cultivated a 'volcano' inside the school boy's mind. May be this person has already done the same to several other school boys. This is happening all over Sri Lanka and in every single village which looks innocent and calm from the outside.

How about our future female community going to live with this type of mentally sick males? These school boys will become adults in the near future and his evil mind will always look for flesh and blood in women. As a journalist I do not know whether there is a way to erase a child's memory using latest technology.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


British may ban ‘happy hour’ as drink deaths rise

LONDON (AP) - Britain is considering a ban on "happy hour" discounts at bars and restaurants to curb drinking, a spokesman said, as health advocates warned that a rise in liver-related deaths among young people may signal a future epidemic.

Health officials will decide on whether to ban the happy hours - designated times for discount drinks - once an independent policy review is published in coming weeks, a health department spokesman said Saturday on customary condition of anonymity.

The proposal was one of several aimed at stemming a trend in binge drinking in recent years, particularly among teenagers and young adults. The government also plans to spend 10 million pounds ($15 million) on a new public awareness campaign, and wants to improve enforcement of laws against underage drinking.

A health advocacy group said some of those young people were now showing signs of liver-related damage usually seen in older people.

Given that it can take 15 to 20 years for liver disease to develop, the British Liver Trust warned that the figures suggested the problem would only get worse.

"We’re seeing a steep increase of deaths in people in their 20s and 30s," Trust spokeswoman Imogen Shillito said. "This indicates a big problem for many years to come."

National statistics show a steady rise in the number of alcohol-related deaths that typically fell heavy drinkers in their 40s and 50s who have abused alcohol for decades. From 1991 to 2006, the number of such deaths more than doubled to 8,758.

Alcohol-related deaths among people aged 25 to 29 were 40 percent higher in 2006 than the year before, Shillito said, citing national statistics.

Shillito said low prices for alcohol had helped encourage drinking among British youths, noting "they can buy alcohol with their pocket money."

The government plans to base its new alcohol policies, including possible new programs to help people reduce consumption, on the upcoming review by the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield.

Officials say the report should clarify whether retail practices lead to excessive drinking. They are considering a ban on a number of practices, including drinking games and speed-drinking events popular at some British pubs.



Voluntarism - tourism with a conscience
Richard Brooks

Voluntarism - taking a vacation that includes some charity work-is a travel idea whose time has come. In its May 2008 issue, Conde Nast Traveller *held the World Savers Contest, asking readers to report on their good deeds with an essay and photo documenting a recent voluntarism trip. This following was voted as "one of our favourite contest entries" by the editors of Conde Nast Traveller.

The location was as exotic as one could imagine, deep in the interior of Sri Lanka in a shramadana camp at the village of Dambara. Let me explain: Shramadana means "sharing of labour."

The Sarvodaya Movement had invited us to work with hundreds of villagers, repairing the irrigation canals that would deliver water to their paddy fields during the off season. Similar events had taken place thousands of times in the grassroots movement's 45-year history. Sarvodaya means "the awakening of all."

Volunteers came from surrounding villages and districts throughout the island, joined by visitors from the U.S., Japan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, France and the UK. The evening began with ceremony-inspiration, pledges of harmony and a commitment to work together for the common good. That first night, we sat on the floor of the Buddhist temple with the entire population of the village.

My host family's home had just enough room for me, their three daughters, mother, and father, who toiled in the paddy field down the hill.

Each of the three days I stayed with them, we drank tea together and ate rice and curry, exchanging smiles and questions. They had much to ask, as did I.

The morning after the first night's meditation, a hundred or more of us lined up with heavy hoes and shovels, sorted ourselves into work teams, and marched down the road to the paddies.

It was hot. Hand to hand, shoulder to shoulder-heart to heart, we would say-we laughed and even sang together as the sun rose. Dripping in sweat, we built a bridge, opened new waterways, and discovered the sheer joy of doing something that very few in the village thought could be accomplished in such a short time.

Boys brought us tea at mid-morning. The women and children prepared vats of rice and dhal. I jumped out of the ankle-deep water to escape a snake and looked a five-foot lizard in the eye.

"Don't worry," laughed the barefoot boys next to me. "He is vegetarian."

The day got hotter and hotter. We removed weeds, boulders, and apprehensions about the limitations of our skills and our energy.

The second day, our numbers tripled. By the third night, the crowd was probably close to a thousand. Children danced and old men told funny stories in the light of the bonfire. Our Japanese friends performed in kimono and sang the Sri Lanka national anthem. My gift was an a cappella version of "America the Beautiful," not performed with jingoistic fervour but genuine love of place inspired by the hospitality of our host village.

Fireworks were a perfect ending to the day.

I asked the youngest of the three girls in my new home, "As you think back over the history of this village, what do you think was the most important day?"

She thought for a moment and replied, "I think today."

Monday, November 24, 2008


‘A Maid for Sale’ Charles.S.Perera"
To run away from the misery of poverty , and to let their families live, a number of Sri Lankan women leave their homes for countries in the Middle East, more particularly to Lebanon to work as domestic servants.

"Lebanon with a population of four million receives 800 000 immigrant workers, among them 150 000 are Sri Lankan women. Many among them find themselves in worse conditions, than they were, in their homes in Sri Lanka. For a few dollars, they find themselves without their passport, locked up in the home of their employer, and subjected to ceaseless work until exhaustion. Some attempt to run away, while others commit suicide.

So begins an introduction to a documentary film, " Bonne à Vendre/ a Maid for Sale" produced by a Lebanese woman film maker Al-Joundi . It is a sad film of Sri Lankan women going to Lebanon to work as domestic servants, with hopes of earning money ,with which they expect to make life for themselves, and their families better when they return to their homes in Sri Lanka.

But their hopes do not end with the realization of those tender hopes. But instead, in Lebanon, where there are no laws to protect domestic servants, their rosy dreams end , working as slaves from early in the morning to dawn the following day, at the mercy of their employer, without a moment of rest, scolded, punished, locked -up in rooms, none to speak to, and no way to escape. Their life of hope ends in being mutilated, raped, thrown from upper floors of buildings or in suicide.

Al-Joundi calls it modern day slavery. These poor women with their unrealised dreams, live in tears, and in pain, hoping for death to release them from the misery they had unknowingly courted in their search for dollars, and a better life back home. According to a report of the Human Rights Watch in Lebanon, released in August this year, 95 migrant domestic workers had died in Lebanon since January 2008. About 40 of the cases were suicides, while 24 were described as workers falling from high-rise buildings, often in an attempt to escape their employers.

Al-Joundi has said that "Bonne à Vendre" (A Maid for Sale), was her attempt at shining a light on the situation, "and to give voice to these silent women" who have been suffering within a system which she characterizes as "modern day slavery."

She says, she remembers how she was pressed by over 60 Sri Lankan women waving goodbye to their families and friends, from the bus which was taking them from the airport exit lounge to the plane, which would take them with their hopes and expectations, to the homes of their employers in Lebanon.

They were in tears crying over the children and families they were leaving behind, and Al-Joundi found it difficult to hide her own tears. She decided to make this heart- rending episode into a documentary to open the eyes of the governments of Sri Lanka, of Lebanon and the humanitarians in the world, to the plight of the mostly poor village women of Sri Lanka, in their attempt to fight against poverty in their own way, by sacrificing themselves to an unknown life as domestic servants in Lebanese homes.

She starts her film with, Janika, a domestic worker from Sri Lanka, in her Lebanese, traditional pink uniform of maids, cleaning the vegetables, preparing dinner and washing the dishes in the home of her Lebanese employer. Janika says, "……while working I think always about my country. My heart is with my husband and my children. Although I am here, for more than three years… I have cried for my daughter."

On investigating Al-Joundy found that there was more to it than the poor women going to Lebanon to earn and take back some money to make their conditions at home in Sri Lanka a little better. There was " big" business in domestic servants from Sri Lanka to Lebanon and she carried out a one and a half year long investigation, flying between Lebanon and Sri Lanka before she made her film.

It is the Sri Lankan recruitment agencies that target the candidates for recruitment, mainly from among the poor, the uneducated and the desperate. One of its recruits, for instance, was a woman who did not have enough money for the burial of a parent. A recruiting agent immediately stepped in to get her to sign a contract for employment in Lebanon and advanced to her the money for the burial.

To lure their future candidates, the employment agencies present Lebanon as a land of plenty and a place where one can earn high salaries. Many women tempted by the riches of the Lebanese families where they may find lucrative employment, get into debt without the fear of not being able to pay back, fees for training, for visas, and travel expenses.

The Lebanese employees also pay the agencies up to US$ 3000 to find them a domestic servant. Thus the employment agencies collect money from both parties.

As for the domestic servants, when she pays back the debts she had incurred, there is often nothing to take back home, if she is one of the lucky ones to get back home.

It is only on arrival in Lebanon and at the home of the employer that the innocent Sri Lankan woman from the village, where she lived happily despite poverty, becomes aware of the reality of being a domestic worker in the Arab world. Her passport and the identity cards are confiscated, and she is locked up in a servant’s room.

Al-Joundi says that for the Lebanese having a domestic maid from Sri Lanka is like having an internet connection which is open day and night for which you pay only a monthly fee. The domestic servants are not covered by any labour law in Lebanon and she can be made to do whatever work for any number of hours, according to the pleasure of the employer.

The employer’s only liability is on the "kafalate", the agreement the employer has obtained for the duration of the contract. To protect their interests the employment agencies encourage the employer to confiscate the passport and other identification documents. To further strengthen protection, the employer keeps the maid locked up in a room.

The employment agencies have established "Training schools in Sri Lanka ", which offer newly recruited domestic workers a 10-day Arabic course, training in the use of household appliances and a course on how to please their new employer.

Al-Joundi says she was the first in 1996 to visit these training schools, which no one from outside had ever seen before. This is where the women learn how to tend to their household duties in Lebanon because the Arab women are very choosy about hygiene.

Blood and tears Al-Joundi adds that according to the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment, there are now over 86,000 Sri Lankan women employed as domestic workers in Lebanon. They constitute the largest population of female migrant workers in the country. Women from the Philippines, another big category, are more often employed as nannies.

There is a substantial economic gain by the government of Sri Lanka in this export trade in Sri Lankan women as domestic servants. In 2006, Sri Lanka received $3.4 billion in remittances from migrant workers abroad, making it the second-highest form of foreign exchange and twice the amount the country receives in foreign aid and direct foreign investment. In fact, domestic workers now surpass tea as a Sri Lankan export product.

Kingsley Ranawaka, chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) said that Sri Lanka is planning to cut the number of women migrants to the Middle East due to the growing number of complaints of ill-treatment, breach of contract, sexual and physical abuse and unpaid wages.

Until now, it seems the Sri Lankan government has been quite content to allow the trade to go on.

Al-Joundi says that one of the things she discovered while making the film was that the Sri Lankan government was very happy to export its women abroad and treat them like cattle because their contribution to the national income is helping to fund the war against the Tamil Tigers.

So neither the Middle Eastern nor Sri Lankan governments want this business to stop. But it is a national disgrace of Sri Lanka that has to stop, the sooner the better.

This is an earnest plea to the President of Sri Lanka to please stop this shameful slave trade of poor Sri Lankan women without further hesitation.


Thursday, November 20, 2008


Hopes and dreams faded away like words in sand

By Cheranka Mendis and Dianne Silva

“I went overseas in search of a better life for my family, to build a two storyed house my daughter so desperately wanted and I came back to see them lying in two little houses of their own”

This is one of the hundreds of stories about women leaving their homes to build a better life for their families, only to return home and find that all their hopes and dreams, hard work and most precious belongings faded away like words in the sand.

Yasawathi Hewage Rathuwadu was propelled to leave home for Cyprus in search of more lucrative employment, by her daughters longing, at the age of three, to live in a two storied house. But what she encountered at the end of her four year stay is nothing but pure grief. Grief over the loss of the two most important people whom she wove her dreams around.

W. Douglas Rathuwadu (54) and Chammi Madushani (12) were found murdered at their home on the 6th of this month.

“Look at my rose, my child like a rose look how beautiful she was,” she wails today; “My innocent Golden Duggy” she cries, juddering the death notice in our faces, screaming the bitterness of her loss on that fateful day on the sixth of this month when the glue holding her world together dissolved into the nothingness that she feels now. For two naïve young women this was an eye opening lesson on grief. We realised how pain was like the ocean dark and deep able to swallow one whole. This grief was more poignant to us when she identified one of us with her daughter and wailed about the fact that she would never be fortunate enough to be called mother by someone of our age. Yasawathi was so engulfed within this darkness that she had no tears left to cry, just a murmuring that was both seemingly quiet and yet earth shatteringly loud at the same time, which calls for justice.

Yasawathi left her family four years ago due to the many financial difficulties that her family faced. Her husband being let go from the position of Post Master General and the foreclosure on her land compelled her to travel overseas and be the bread winner of her family. She left her daughter at the age of nine in the care of her husband. Begging her “Golden Duggy , please don’t drink, watch out for our (their) daughter,” she said. Yasawathi went to great lengths to protect their precious child; whereby she even called up the teacher and the principal at the school and commissioned them to watch out for Chammi.

Yasawathi also tells how her elder sister had checked Chammi’s horoscope and found that the month of November was an inauspicious time for her. She had then warned her husband and a few other close relatives to keep both eyes opened and be vigilant about her whereabouts.

Many talk of a mother’s intuition Yasawathi experienced the accuracy of this instinct first hand the day her family passed away. Yasawathi dreamt of a man in a uniform taking hold of her hand and threatening her at gun point with the words; “You must leave Cyprus tomorrow. You have to go home tomorrow.”

The bodies of her precious daughter and husband were found the next morning around 7 by Yasawathi’s brother who came to deliver a message from her (Yasawathi’s) mother. Yasawathi’s mother had attempted to contact the family but had failed .Therefore ,she sent over one of her sons to check on them. He had gone to the room behind their ‘Lassana Tailors’ shop and since there had been no reply when he called out for ‘Chammi duwa’ he had stepped inside the house only to witness W. Douglas Rathuwadu lying in a pool of blood on the floor. He was found at the doorstep of his meagre tailor shop, hacked to death. His daughter Chammi Madushani (12) was found a few feet away in a jungle, suffocated, foaming at the mouth with her hands forced over her head.

Yasawathi soon received a call from Sri Lanka making her worst nightmare come true. Her sister, a resident of Colombo asked her to come back immediately stating that her husband and daughter had met with an accident. Her immediate response was to ask her sister to take every step to get them on the road to recovery. “Send them abroad ,if you have to, spend all the money you can but save their breath until I come there,” she pleaded. It truly is a tragedy that she was unaware that her precious loved ones had breathed their last within the confines of their home just minutes ago.

Once Yasawathi landed in the country she was informed that she would travel to Karapitiya under the guise that they were receiving treatment at the hospital there; “I was so happy because I thought they were at the Karapitiya Hospital receiving treatment. I was praising and thanking the Lord”. However, the sight that greeted her eyes, shattering her universe. . “All I could see were white flags right down the lane, and when I reached my home there were people everywhere. And I couldn’t bear it.”

Yasawathi recalls the last conversation she had with her treasured daughter, where Chammi Madushani expressed her fear of death; “I can’t come to Colombo, there are so many bombs going off, I am scared of dying”. It is truly cruel that fate dealt such an innocent child a death so gruesome. Evidence suggests that she had been dragged outside the apartment, the broken flower pots indicated and the dishelmed trail leading to the jungle suggested this fact.

Male hairs on the victims chest indicates that there was a struggle. The question tormenting Yasawathi and all those who hear this horrific story is; why no one heard Chammi when she cried for help while she was being dragged outside. Surly she would have attempted to shout, defend herself or call out for help. Why is it then that no one in the vicinity claims to have not heard it?

Speaking about her child, Yasawathi has no more tears left to cry just questions rhetorical, unanswerable, pointless questions; “I wish all three of us died together. How can I live without them? I didn’t buy anything for my self when I was in Cyprus. I saved everything I had for my little daughter. And now who am I to give these to?”

She had saved money to buy Chammi a car and to give her away in a good marriage. Her plans extended beyond generations “I even brought clothes and such things for her children.” But she saw her little daughter, preciously dressed as a beautiful bride; but not to be given away in marriage but to be buried in the deep earth, crushing her innocent childhood and all her dreams.

For the two of us this is the greatest tragedy; the fact that all the plans and hopes centred around Chammi are now buried six feet under. Yasawathi recalls how little Chammi loved dressing up as a bride. She herself a bridal dresser, prior to her stint as a dress maker, left her saris and other items used for bridal dressing when she sought employment overseas. These items were hounded by Chammi who used these accessories for her own entertainment. She was fond of modelling her Bridal creations in front of the mirror.

Eleven year old Chammi stopped going to school for a while due to a slightly embarrassing situation she had to face at school. However, she was self studying from home. Yasawathi had plans to find her a better school and help her with classes to ensure that she receives proper education. When she was at school, Yasawathi regularly called her teachers and followed up and inquired on her progress at school. “I told her teachers and principals as well to keep an eye open for her. She is the most precious thing I had in my life”

Chammi dotingly kept a photograph of her mother on her desk, to remember the care and love she was showered with so generously when in the arms of her mother. The back of the photograph reads; “I love my mother” “I love you as much as the sky”. Yasawathi wails today that she was unable to hear these words from her little Chammi’s lips.

“Find me another daughter with the same face and height, and then maybe I will survive. If not, I will kill my self,” she bemoans. “I have everything ready to build her her dream house”. Yasawathi had collected everything, from drapes to furniture, and these were all safely hidden at her sister’s home in Colombo. Only her husband and sister knew about this. She even hid it from Chammi because she was afraid, that awareness of such wealth would cause her many problems and threaten her safety.

She always told Douglas to make sure her daughter was ‘fully covered up’ because she did not want the village boys looking at her. She also did not send down gold jewellery for the simple reason that she feared boys would be interested in her Chammi for the sake of her money nor did she want the villages to know about her salary. “I always told Duggi to cover her up well because her body had matured beyond her age.” She had also warned her daughter of this and she remembers Chammi saying that she will never overstep her boundaries till her mother comes back and that she will protect her dignity in the village.

She is at a loss as to what she should do with the material comforts she had stacked upto put in Chammi’s room in their two storied dream house. She hopes she could find another, closely resembling her late daughter to give her these comforts and to bring up as her own.

Her husband, W. D.Rathuwadu fondly known as ‘Duggi’ or ‘Golden Duggi’ by Yasawathi is remembered as a mild and innocent person. His only blemish was his excessive drinking. But according to her he had not caused trouble anywhere. She also proclaimed that her love for him never ceased even though he drank. Their love story starts in the hallways of Pitigala Ananda Vidyalaya, while they were studying for their Advanced Levels, the same school their daughter attended years after.

Regardless of his short comings he had taken great pains in bringing up their only child. He had promised Yasawathi that he will bring their daughter up in a manner that one day she would bring great honour to her mother. But these are now just haunting memories of the past.

This incident is one that rocked an entire family and left would deep and sore, that nothing is ever likely to be ‘Normal’ in their lives again. The Grandmother of Chammi reels with guilt over the fact that she never was able to cook the meal she had intended for the family. Yasawathi explains that her mother was to cook a meal of Jak Fruit for Chammi since that was her favourite meal. The guilt further seeps into the skin of this ailing woman due to the fact that on that fateful night she was not there to protect her beloved granddaughter. Yasawathi explains “My mother who usually stays with my husband and daughter stayed with my sister that night because of her ailments.” To this day her mother refuses to consume anything and lies in bed idly meditating on that she could have done differently.

The root cause for this murder is still unknown. Given that no valuables were missing from the house or the shop and with no evidence of sexual abuse towards Chammi Madushani, one is stuck at the crossroads trying to figure out the root cause behind this double murder.

‘I promised my husband and my daughter that I would not rest until I find out who did this to them. I want to hear it from the murderer’s own mouth why he killed my innocent child and my golden Duggy,’ she says.

The Pitigala police stated that investigations are still being conducted on this case. The wind will carry this story on but hopefully the murderers will be found and punished for their actions soon.

“Cruel with guilt, and daring with despair, the midnight murderer bursts the faithless bar; invades the sacred hour of silent rest and leaves, unseen, a dagger in your breast.” Said Samuel Johnson; just as he said the murderers have invaded the silence of the happy family and replaced it with sighs of longings and despair.

(Additional reporting by Yasas Mendis)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


A tale of two ‘cousins’
Diabetes and cardiovascular disease go hand in hand:

Some 160 million people across the world suffer from diabetes mellitus (DM). This number is likely to increase exponentially in the years to come.

An expected pandemic scale may be accounted for by higher detection rates, newer diagnostic facilities, increasing longevity and better public awareness about it. Dietary indiscipline, urbanisation, globalisation and the resultant stress are other contributing factors.

Diabetes mellitus is not only a metabolic disorder but a cardiovascular disorder (CVD). Approximately 40 per cent of diabetics have an associated CVD. It is evident from various Indian registries that 40 per cent of patients who are admitted for CVD conditions such as heart attacks, or are being treated with the aid of coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) or balloon angioplasty (PTCA), have DM.

CVD and DM often coexist and are like cousins. Diabetes mellitus often leads to cardiovascular diseases, manifesting as heart attacks, strokes or peripheral vascular diseases. “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” wrote Shelley in ‘Ode To The West Wind.’ If diabetes comes, vascular disease usually follows.

By the time a diabetic person comes in for tests, the vascular, or blood vessel, damage has already begun. Depending on the sugar level and the associated risk status of a patient, vascular disease is detected at various stages of such damage. So what is actually obvious at presentation is the tip of the iceberg.

DM is the most common cause of heart attacks in those below 45 years of age. In pre-menopausal women, diabetes takes away the element of gender protection that is otherwise available. Primary prevention in diabetics should be similar to secondary prevention in non-diabetics.

This means that diabetics who have not suffered heart attacks should be treated on the same lines as non-diabetic persons who have suffered a heart attack. DM and CVD have common antecedents such as genetic predisposition and environmental factors - the so-called ‘common coil’ hypothesis.

Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.” This is apt in the case of diabetes as DM brings with it other risks such as high blood pressure and lipid abnormalities (elevated levels of bad cholesterol types such as LDL and triglycerides and total cholesterol, besides low levels of HDL, the good cholesterol).

Such “clustering” of risk factors compound CVD risk. Diabetics have a higher tendency for clot formation and abnormal functioning of the inner smooth lining of blood vessels, or endothelial dysfunction.

Heart Attacks
Asymptomatic coronary artery disease (CAD), involving the blood vessels supplying the heart muscles, is more common in diabetics than in others. Patients may not have any premonitory symptoms of heart attacks, as the pain perception is affected due to nerve damage caused by DM.

Early detection can prevent or delay vascular complications. The root cause of vascular damage is insulin resistance, insulin being the hormone that controls the metabolism of sugar. Insulin resistance precedes manifest diabetes by several years. The “deadly pentad” constitutes obesity, DM, high blood pressure, lipid abnormalities and CVD.

In cases of longstanding and uncontrolled DM, coronary arteries develop multiple blocks, and diffuse disease involving the entire vessel. The disease affects predominantly the ends of the vessels.

The vessel calibre becomes small. These vessels are more prone to calcification. There is a high tendency for cholesterol plaques to rupture in diabetic vessels with resultant clot formation in the lumen of the vessels, which could be life threatening. Because of impaired blood supply to it, the heart’s pumping capacity comes down.

Such features, characteristic of diabetic vascular disease, will impede chances of success after treatment by balloon angioplasty (PTCA) or CABG surgery. Many patients may not even be suitable candidates for either of these procedures if they present themselves to the physician too late.

Early Detection
The key steps are early detection and control of blood sugar levels. Public awareness should be ensured through the media. Periodic personal health check-ups are essential. Camps can help reach out to the population for whom medical facilities are inaccessible.

Diabetic camps often tend to be one-day affairs meant for publicity and may fail to solve the problem. It is better to adopt a village or a designated population, such as an industrial population, on a long-term basis and follow up continuously over years for detection, control and prevention of complications due to DM. Non-Governmental organisations and public-private partnership arrangements could help in this.

Who should follow up the patients? Physician training is important. The number of diabetologists is low in comparison to the large population of diabetics. Cardiologists are busy with the tertiary care of patients already suffering cardiovascular complications.

The result is the emergence of a new breed of physicians called ‘cardiodiabetologists’, who are interested both in clinical cardiology and diabetology and have the ability to deliver optimal care.

General practitioners should also be trained to reach out and cater to the needs of diabetic patients in the semi-urban and rural areas. At the European Society of Cardiology meeting, one hall was seen to be dedicated to the field of ‘Cardiodiabetology’.

In a nutshell, we face an epidemic of DM, because of the ethnic and genetic predisposition. A majority of the cases develop cardiovascular complications. Early detection, optimal control of blood sugar levels and anticipated detection and management of complications are important.

Regular follow-up and control of co-morbid conditions such as hypertension and lipid abnormalities is essential. Public awareness, physician training and specialist supervision are mandatory. Through proper measures, cardiovascular complications can certainly be delayed in diabetics.

(Dr. I. Sathyamurthy, an interventional cardiologist, is Director, Department of Cardiology, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Community leaders and developing health standards

Two millenniums ago the Buddha stated these words Arogya Parama Labha, the greatest treasure to us human beings is our own health. These three words described about how valuable is human health to human life back then. Two thousand years have passed but the reality still remains the same. See the world today, look how far we have fallen down as humans, fear of diseases, plagues, chemicals, global warming.

There are several reasons for dealing with these types of problems.

-Ignorance of good health habits

-Drug, smoking and alcohol addiction

-Environmental pollution


-Ignorance of maintaining your personal hygiene

-Corrupting child minds with violence

These facts tell us that the general public is unaware of their health and public health. Public health came as a global issue in 1940's. In 1948 in the month of April, Geneva, Switzerland world leaders all around the world started United Nations; World Health Organization (WHO). The main objective of WHO is to prevent diseases rather than treating diseases and promotion of healthy behaviours among public.

So First of all let's discuss about public health WHO defines the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts and informed choices of society, organisations, public and private, communities and individuals.

Although the public health issue was new to the Western leaders of 20th century, in the East, good health habits have been followed by our communities thousands year ago. Sri Lankan kings like Dutugamunu, Buddhadhasa and Pandukabaya focused on public health. These kings worked for creating a better future for their countrymen, they built hospitals and all sorts of infrastructure for a healthy community.

But as the centuries went by, humans forgot about the link between nature and humans, the greed for wealth and power blinded them from reality, they destroyed nature in the name of development, but as man climbed to the top of the technological evolution, we humans now face series consequences of our misdeeds in past we have put ourselves in danger and not only us, but other living things and our planet. Now humans have realised the mistakes and some organisations have come forward to rectify the past misdeeds. Government and NGOs have started projects on public health and environmental protection, but these groups are well funded and its members are paid for their work.

There are young people who are aged between aged 15-30 voluntarily steps forward for their community and uplift their community health standards.

-Keeping the surrounding environment clean

-Organising shramadhana campaigns

-Educating community about keeping their environment clean

-Young doctors who treat people who is suffering from poverty free of charge

-Health Campaigns

-Awareness Programmes

They are self less and kind hearted people who have much broader perspective about the world; these are real leaders who set an example to the world but hidden by the society silently moving along as an average person.

These leaders must be encouraged and brought forward to the public and set an example, perhaps an inspiration to other young leaders who are trying to immerse from the average society. So the Youth Empowerment Division of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS) has come forward to organise a national awards ceremony named as The Young Community Leaders (YCL) Awards. The objective of this awards ceremony is to recognise and reward the youth community leaders of the country who have rendered commendable service in the community development sphere. Through this award ceremony BCIS is expecting few outcomes such as.

-Promoting and encouraging the youth

-Finding solutions to the issues affecting the youth community

-Creating a platform for recognition of the youth at the national, policy planning level, providing a catalyst for further promotion of the youth activism in Sri Lanka.

-Generating a national wide interest in the initiatives/efforts by the youth in community development work.

-Compiling an islandwide statistical database of community development projects undertaken by youth, their success failures and obstacles.


‘Diabetes related eye defects curable, if detected early’....By Dilanthi Jayamanne

Nearly 200 patients visit the Eye Hospital every month with defects caused by diabetes.

The Colombo Eye hospital had special programmes to mark The World Diabetes day yesterday (14). The main event was an awareness programme organised by Specialists of the Hospital for patients.

The Director of the Eye Hospital, Champa Banagala told them diabetes did not have an age barrier; even those below fifteen years of age were prone to it.

Twenty per cent of the city dwellers and eight per cent from the villages were affected.

There were two types of diabetes, type 1 and 2. Ninety per cent of those below the age of 15 suffering from type 1 diabetes may even go blind. Twenty per cent suffering from type 2 show visual defects. By the age of 15 these patients would lose 60 per cent of their sight.

Giving statistics Dr. Banagala said that in September there had been 182 diabetic patients with eye defects and in October there were 177.

Altogether there were around 200 diabetic patients visiting the Eye Hospital, he said.

In a survey conducted in 1999, it had been revealed that out of 680 diabetic patients, 31 had lost there sight. However, another survey would be conducted as there could be a possible increase in numbers.

Visual defects stemming from diabetes could be completely cured with laser treatment. Therefore Dr. Banagala urged diabetic patients to test their eyes annually to seek early treatment if they had signs of visual defects.



WTSF is a Sosial Forum for Tamils living around the World, where they can read and write or exchange news and views or find information/knowledge for better and easy life for the early solutions of their common social(cultural,economical,behaviour, environmental,health etc)problems! Please come forward to think-talk-act quickly for the survival,advancement and unity of our people in this dangerous world with complex dangers and serious problems!

Today, World human-society face a long list of problems and fight for their survival, unity and progress.

We can list those problems or dangers as man-made or natural or both.Please write!