Sab. Minister says setting up orphanages and elders’ homes ‘big business’

 by Shamindra Ferdinando

Probation and Child Care Minister of Sabaragamuwa Province G. M. Karunapala says unscrupulous elements set up orphanages and homes for elders to collect donations from local and foreign sources.

 Minister Karunapala emphasizes the importance of a cohesive approach on the part of the authorities to prevent so-called civil society organizations from making money.

Addressing a public gathering after the opening of a new building for Yashodara Deaf and Blind school, Balangoda on Thursday (Oct 28), the Minister warned that punitive action would be taken against those setting up orphanages and homes for elders in the Sabaragamuwa Province to attract donors.

 The PC built the new facility at a cost of Rs. 1.6 million to accommodate 70 differently-able students, who had to use a 50-year –old building in a dilapidated condition.

Minister Karunapala said that both the UPFA government and the SLFP-led Sabaragamuwa PC wanted to provide equal opportunities to the student community. The minister said that work on a new hostel for female students would be completed in two months.

 The Minister emphasised the importance of the staff of government and provincial agencies engaged in running orphanages and homes for elders to be caring and patient. Anyone, who couldn’t behave civilly, shouldn’t work in this particular sector, the Minister said, reminding that some of the children handed over to orphanages never get an opportunity to see their loved ones again. The Minister said that some of those who hand over children never visit them again. The fate of some elders was the same, he added.

Minister said that Sabaragamuwa PC would maintain a close watch on homes for children and elders’ homes to ensure transparency. According to him, the PC had ordered the closure of home for children following an inquiry and transfer of children to other facilities.

 The Minister said that he directed relevant authorities to conduct an investigation after receiving a spate of complaints about a home for elders. The PC member assured, depending on the ongoing inquiry, he would intervene to improve the situation at private places run by NGOs or closes them down.

A senior official told The Island that due to shortcomings on the part of government agencies and provincial authorities, many institutions were at a state of neglect.

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