Oct 29, Colombo: The United States has provided assistance to empower the people with disabilities in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province and promote growth in the region.
The U.S. Embassy in Colombo is a release said its Ambassador Michele Sison opened the "Sea the Differences" Training and Production Center in Selvanayagapuram, Trincomalee on October 26, with the participation of Eastern Province Chief Minister M. Najeeb Abdul Majeed and Chief Secretary D.M.S. Abeygunawardena.
The Center aims to empower people with disabilities by providing training and income generation opportunities. The initiative is a partnership between the U.S. Government's development arm - the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an Eastern-based foundation - Arumbugal Foundation, and the Department of Social Services of Eastern Province.
USAID supports the Center under its VEGA/ BIZ+ program which provides grants along with technical and managerial assistance to small- and medium-size businesses. USAID has awarded US$ 24 million to lead the VEGA/BIZ+ program in Sri Lanka, with project offices in Batticaloa, Vavuniya and Colombo.
Over the next two years, at least 100 people with disabilities will receive training at the "Sea the Differences" Center, learning how to produce handicrafts and souvenirs. The Arumbugal Foundation will purchase the finished products and sell them to retailers and hotels in the region.
The Center in Trincomalee is Arumbugal Foundation's second training and production center, with the first located in Batticaloa.
At present, demand for the Foundation's products exceeds production capacity. The Foundation is also in the process of locating new sales outlets, with a special focus on Trincomalee, the Embassy said.
"Through this partnership, over 100 disabled individuals will receive training and livelihood opportunities. Most importantly, this initiative will help create awareness and appreciation of their capacities and abilities while connecting them with mainstream society," Ambassador Sison has said at the opening ceremony.
USAID will also help Arumbugal Foundation establish small-scale businesses by building a restaurant in Isha Water Park, a holiday bungalow in Uppuveli and by purchasing a 32-seat passenger bus to transport disabled people. The main aim of this support is to help the Foundation become self-sufficient and provide training grounds for Training and Production Center graduates.
The Chief Minister of the Eastern Province has thanked the American people for supporting the development of the Eastern Province.