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May 02, 2018

Annual General Meeting - Devi Balika PPA (UK)
Members of the Past Pupils Association (PPA) of Devi Balika gathered at the Rising Sun restaurant in Harrow on 31 March to celebrate another successful year, at their 27th Annual General Meeting.

President Dr Malathie Peiris welcomed the members and thanked them for their support throughout the eventful year, which started off with the annual Founders Day Celebrations on 3 June 2017 in memory of the Founder Principal, late Dr Wimala De Silva. Following a Mal Pahan Pooja, tributes were paid to, the much respected founder principal who although she held many prestigious positions, always considered her time at Devi Balika the happiest and most fulfilling period of her career.

High Tea at Dr Harshi Boralessa's garden in July, Paduru Party organised and hosted by President Malathie in August, and the Annual Dinner Dance at the Holiday Inn Wembley in November raised funds towards the Student Sponsorship Project which provides scholarships for Devi undergraduates in Sri Lanka who have serious financial difficulties.

We were saddened by the loss of our second Principal, Mrs Kalyani De Zoysa who passed away in September. Her long service of 33 years, commenced as the Deputy Principal of the school, when it was founded in 1953 and she was appointed as Principal of Devi Balika in 1967. In October, a Mal Pahan Pooja was held at the Chiswick Vihara, in memory of her. Mrs Chandani Ranatunga (Vice President) and Mrs Ruki Wijayasinghe (Secretary) paid heartfelt tributes reminding everyone of the special qualities of our much loved Mrs Zoysa.

Devi PPA (UK) has helped many deserving charities in Sri Lanka in the past, through a sponsored walk which is held annually. In 2017, the chosen project was Little Hearts. The aim of this charity project is to build a modern paediatric intensive care unit at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital in Sri Lanka, which would save lives of many critically ill children.We made our donation to Little Hearts in memory of Mrs Kalyani De Zoysa.

Audited accounts were presented and the auditor Mrs Vinitha De Alwis gave an overview of how Devians in the UK have financially supported the school over the years. Following that, the Student Sponsorship Coordinator, Harshi, gave an update of the scholarships stating that currently there are 22 recipients in our scheme and presented the audited accounts of the Student Sponsorship Account in Sri Lanka. Harshi concluded by reading out heartfelt 'Thank You' messages from some of the students who benefitted from our project.

In her speech, the outgoing President Malathie who managed to get younger Devians to attend events this year, explained how rewarding it is to work in a committee like ours. Malathie also mentioned that some of the girls in the Devi hostel are facing serious financial difficulties and that the Association should consider how their burdens can be alleviated. After that, office bearers for 2018-2019 were elected. Dr Shihan de Silva who was elected as the new President, was in Sri Lanka at the time. In her absence, Vice President Chandani, was invited to take the chair.

There was a message from Shihan: "I am looking forward to working with such a dedicated committee and to hearing how they think we could make our Association's work more visible in the UK. We are relying mostly on the Sri Lankan diaspora for our events. Our aims in helping brilliant girls to fulfil their career ambitions through the scholarship scheme and also helping Sri Lankan society at large, through sponsoring a charity back home, are valued by our generous non Sri Lankan friends also.We should try to increase our membership and encourage more past pupils to join the PPA. Intergenerational transfer of knowledge is very important and we should try to recruit more younger members to the Association, not necessarily as committee members if they do not have time to be involved in driving the associations activities".

The evening concluded with a delicious Sri Lankan dinner and dancing, enabling Devians, their families and friends to get together and have a thoroughly enjoyable time, a fitting finale to a busy rewarding year and a start to another eventful year of working together to fulfil the Association's objectives of fundraising and keeping the past pupils and their families in the UK in touch with each other.

Karunaseeli Somasiri
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