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Monday, February 16, 2009

Kingdom offers aid to Lankan charity

Mohammed Rasooldeen, Arab News

RIYADH: The Kingdom has donated SR75,000 to the Islamic Center for the Physically Handicapped (ICPH) in Sri Lanka.

Saudi Ambassador in Colombo Abdulaziz Al-Jammaz handed the check to ICPH Director Jiffry Haniffa at a simple function held at the Saudi mission in Colombo. The handing over was also attended by Omar Hashim, director of the Independent Television Network and adviser to the IPCH.

Al-Jammaz said the Ministry of Islamic Affairs made the donation in recognition of the center’s work among disabled children. He added that the money would go toward the center’s newly opened wing for mentally challenged children.

Thanking the Kingdom’s generosity, Haniffa said the wing hosts 34 mentally challenged children, including 15 girls. “The donation will be used to upgrade the section and to take more inmates from a waiting list of 150,” he said, adding that the lack of funds has prevented the center from taking in more children.

The IPCH is the only center in the island serving Sri Lanka’s 1.6 million Muslim population. It currently cares for 174 children, including 98 boys. Children who pass from this center find lucrative jobs in the private and public sectors. “Some of them have attained excellent results in public examinations,” said Haniffa, adding that the center runs solely on donations from Muslim philanthropists and Islamic organizations from all parts of the world.

A major chunk of the donations comes from Saudi Arabia, said Haniffa. “We also get a sizable amount annually from Sri Lankan Muslims living in the country and abroad during the holy month of Ramadan,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Embassy in Colombo has been shifted to a spacious location in Horton Place, Colombo’s diplomatic area.

Riyadh Al-Kheneini, deputy chief of mission, told Arab News that the move was long awaited to offer speedy services to visitors.

The embassy on an average issues 200 visas each day. These include visas for Umrah, Haj, employment, business and visit.

“A good number of Sri Lankan expatriates in the Kingdom also make use of the online facility to obtain visas for their close relatives,” he said.

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