The United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was celebrated with success in Sri Lanka recently.
Gandhi once said ‘poverty is the worst form of violence’ and the United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is observed on 17 October each year. It promotes people’s awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution worldwide, particularly in developing countries.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, in his message for the day, said: “Rampant poverty, which has festered for far too long, is linked to social unrest and threats to peace and security. On this International Day, let us make an investment in our common future by helping to lift people out of poverty so that they, in turn, can help to transform our world.”
At the Millennium Summit, world leaders committed themselves to cutting in half, by the year 2015, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day. Over the last decade, millions have overcome extreme poverty and attained better access to health care and education. Extreme poverty rates have decreased in every region of the world. Over 39 million more children attend primary school. Access to clean water has increased to 89 per cent.
The United Nations Information Centre, (UNIC) Colombo observed the Day on 18 and 19 October 2012 at Pu/Ana/Welewewa Sumedha Vidyalaya, Nawagaththegama. The program began with donation of 20 dairy cows to the parents under the Maliban Abayadhana program as coordinated by UNIC.
The main event included a poverty march by school children and their parents on 18 October evening and the observances on 19 October comprised of several inspirational speeches, the handing over of agricultural tools, plants and other indispensable items required for the establishment of the school model farm, prize giving for the winners of competitions held, donating books for the school library, the distribution of Samaposha (a nutritious meal for breakfast), the establishment of a branch of the Women’s Bank, and an innovative cooking competition for parents.
The students of Sumedha Vidyalaya entertained the gathering with performances signifying the importance of alleviating poverty.
UNIC was supported by Maliban Milk Foods Co. Ltd. donating dairy cows under the premier CSR project ‘Maliban Kiri Abhayadana’ on two occasions, Richard Pieris & Co. Ltd., which donated Rs. 100,000 worth of items, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Colombo and Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resource Management with its expertise and donations of equipment and plants for the model farm, Plenty Food (Pvt) Ltd., with plenty of Samaposha, and the Women’s Bank establishing a branch to empower mothers of the school children. The school was gifted a computer by Thunder and Neon (Pvt) Ltd. In addition, the Dharmavijaya Society of Dakshinaramaya, Mt. Lavinia, also donated two cows to the parents.
The event was attended by Dr. Fredrick Abyeratne of UNDP, K.E.M.G.W. Bandara, the Zonal Education Director for Puttalam, education officials from the district, people’s representatives of the area, H.M. Wijewardena, the Teacher-in-Charge of IT at Rambuka Maha Vidyalaya, A.M. Jayawardena from the Rajanganaya Model Farm of the Ministry of Irrigation, Nandasiri Gamage, Founder, Women’s Bank, Kumari Wickramasinghe, and Hiranthi Gunawardena of UNIC.
The event was coordinated by E.A.W. Bandara, Chairman, Senasili Foundation, Anamaduwa, under the guidance of the Principal Wimal Wijerathna and supported by UNIC’s volunteers, Ruwanthi Godakanda Arachchi and H. Mohamed Jawahir.