By January 2006, funds were received in honor of Cresenta Fernando to open Orphans International Sri Lanka. We are now in the process of choosing a coordinator for training at OI Sumatera in Aceh, Indonesia, identifying a village near Galle to locate the project in, and building homes for 12 children in the next several months. This also opens a seat for Sri Lanka on the OI America International Council.
The first home of OI Sri Lanka will be the Cresenta L. Fernando Home for Tsunami Orphans, in recognition of the humanitarian achievements of a Sri Lankan native son who worked for the World Bank until his death during the Tsunami on Dec. 26, 2005. Cresenta’s wife, Ariele Cohen, survived the Tsunami and now lives in New York. She sits on the Advisory Board of OI America. Ariele’s parents, Tom and Donna Cohen, are coordinating development for OI Sri Lanka.
In March of 2006, I made an initial organizing trip to Sri Lanka, which was highly successful. Orphans International Sri Lanka is being founded with the pro bono assistance of Sri Lanka’s oldest and most prestigious law firm, FJ & G de Saram in Colombo, as a Sri Lankan volunteer social service organization in full compliance with the Sri Lankan Departments of Child Protection, Health, Education, and Social Welfare. The project will consist of a small campus dedicated to assisting disadvantaged Sri Lankan children, specifically orphans. It will also feature a community health clinic and a computer center.
OI Sri Lanka has already hired Buddika Bandera as Assistant Director. Buddika is currently seeking to purchase the project’s campus, with two homes, on land outside the city of Galle. Wendy and Arnie Budin were active in forming the first Orphans International America chapter in New Jersey, specifically to raise awareness of the Sri Lanka project.