Peace and Reconciliation begins with Books: CANDLEAID at Work

The Memo below was presented on the website for Australia-Sri Lanka Association in Adelaide. It is repeated here with an update because a small body of Sri LankanAdelaidians is about to finalise the legal foundations for a body called WE ARE ONE LANKA which will be pursuing the calls for reconciliation mooted independently in mid-2009 by Mohan Samarasinhe in London and Mohan Sekaram in Sydney through charity work that deliberately reaches across ethnic boundaries and links personnel of one ethnic community with another in fruitful ways.

Peace begins with books


CandleAid Lanka, formerly AFLAC International, was founded by Capt. Elmo Jayawardena, a Sri Lankan pilot employed with Singapore Airlines. He and an executive committee of five directors run CandleAid. A member of the Executive committee heads each CandleAid project. In addition, CandleAid has chief coordinators for every project. A number of coordinators work under the chief co-ordinator. Every beneficiary of CandleAid has been allocated a co-ordinator who acts as the link between CandleAid and the beneficiary. CandleAid is registered under the Ministry of Social Services in Sri Lanka as a Non Governmental Organisation engaged in charitable work. CandleAid was granted the status “Approved Charity” in Sri Lanka in 2000.

Ideology behind CandleAid

CandleAid was formed in 1995 with the purpose of alleviating poverty in Sri Lanka. It is modeled on the belief that every person can do something to help another, irrespective of class, wealth and status. Founded upon the quote ‘It is better by far to light one solitary candle than to curse the darkness’ CandleAid believes that everyone has the capacity to light a candle, be it large or small, which will shed some light on someone else’s darkness. As such, we function as a link between your act of generosity and someone else’s need.

CandleAid work

CandleAid attempts to attack poverty through five main areas of work; education, health, shelter, food and clothing. It carries out certain miscellaneous projects through an CandleAid general fund. All projects run independently of each other and different people are involved in varying manners. All prospective projects are screened by the executive committee for their viability, authenticity and suitability under the CandleAid programs. An important aspect of CandleAid is that no part of any donation received is reserved for administration costs. All administrative expenses are borne by the executive committee and participants as part of their own contributions to CandleAid. All donations from individuals are channelled directly to recipients without any form of dilution.

The projects undertaken by CandleAid are handled by 700 volunteers and the head office staff is skeletal.  Among the many lines of charitable help undertaken by Candle Aid, ASLA here focuses on its Rural Libraries Project.

52 libraries were promoted in the southern-central districts of Sri Lanka between 1998 and October 1998. For fuller details, see relevant section of Remarkably, between the end of the war in May and now in December CandleAid has identified 25 libraries in the northern and eastern reaches of the island and are in the process of setting them up.

UPDATE: Indeed, since this note was drafted in early December a few are up and running –as the photographs reveal. GREAT GOING, Elmo.

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