A new 3,000,000 rupee grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide the means for five local organizations to continue their work with the disabled in the Northern and Eastern provinces, increasing incomes for approximately 1,200 disabled people and raising public awareness on disability rights and social inclusion in these areas.
The organizations, based in Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts, fulfill a critical need in regions where two and a half decades of conflict has resulted in a significant number of disabled residents.
Through the grant, USAID and its implementing partner ZO A Refugee Care Netherlands will train the local organizations to develop livelihood assistance packages and create small-scale income-generation projects for disabled individuals in the target areas.
As part of this effort, the local organizations will help disabled individuals develop business plans; the best plans will receive small grants as business start-up capital. Grant activities will also link disabled people with other development activities in their regions, including those of USAID and other donors.
This new grant expands USAID’s portfolio of activities to improve the lives of Sri Lanka’s disabled. Other activities focus on the production and donation of wheelchairs, the provision of vocational training, and help with job referrals a nd self-employment opportunities for disabled individuals.
Through past grants, USAID has also fitted international-standard prosthetics and orthotics for individuals in need of them, donated customized mobility devices, helped identify employment opportunities, promoted disability rights, and raised awareness on disability issues at the local and national levels.
“This new grant will build on USAID’s current and past work to strengthen Sri Lankan organizations working with the disabled,” said James Bednar, USAID Mission Director to Sri Lanka. “These organizations know the local communities and provide critical services to ensure that the disabled are better able to support themselves, advocate for their rights, and ultimately, le ad happier and more fulfilled lives.”
The five local organizations that will receive support through the grant are Deaf Link, Puhalidam, Multi-Disciplinary Team, Organization for Rehabilitation of the Handicapped in Vavuniya District and Association for Rehabilitation of Differently Abled Persons.
Courtesy: U.S. Embassy in Colombo
Photo: U.S. Ambassador Patricia Butenis and ZOA Country Director Bernhard W. Kerschbaum at a meeting with the organizations that work in the North through U.S. funding.