Navajeevana, or “New Life’ is an NGO which, since its inception in 1987, has been catering annually to more than 2000 physically and mentally disabled members of society.
The Head Quarters feature a number of departments. Amongst them, the institutional rehabilitation department. It consists of an orthotics/prosthetics, and physiotherapy department. Annexed to it, the audiological unit and therapeutic facilities dealing with supportive seating, speech and language therapy, and wheelchair production.
The community rehabilitation department is made up a field unit, a mental health unit, an education unit, and a livelihood income generation unit.
"...Nobody saw the disabled; nobody accepted them in the community..."
“The need was there because there was no work being done for the disabled. When I saw that, I wanted to bring the disabled to the forefront, away from their hidden corners. I found that whatever small projects there were, they were in the backwoods, hidden far away. Nobody saw the disabled; nobody accepted them in the community. So I was determined to give them status and try to make them the NUMBER ONE citizen. Our main focus is to reach the unreached. There are uneducated people in the remote areas and they need our help more than anyone else. They can’t pay for it! They are not educated to know what help they need! So we have been working very hard to reach those people, and to achieve our vision: to make persons with special needs, participating members of a non-discriminating society. And we can achieve it with my dedicated staff. We have achieved that for so many years.
"...We look at the disabled person as a whole. Not just to the limb.."
You know, they say that vision is a far waiting. It is not dearly. But it takes a lot of work. We look at the disabled person as a whole. Not just to the limb and say that now our work is over. We start from infancy up to income generation and economic independence of the disabled, which covers the whole range of interventions. We don’t build up their hopes, give them education and then say: “We have done what we can do and then you do the rest!” We feel still it is not right to do that. I’m sure in the future, there will be a lot of opportunity, which they can find for themselves. But until then, until we get those things going and we lobby for those facilities, for the disabled, I think we have to do this work, however hard it is.”
Mrs Kumarini Wickramasuriya, Founder and Chairperson
Sri Lanka, 2012
By Enilffo Raeppa