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August 02, 2017
"It's just not a walk in the park" PPA Visakha in the UK comes together
to raise money for a deserving charity - Little Hearts!
By Pandula Ranatunga
On a quiet Sunday morning with the morning dew just vaporising and busy bees gently buzzing passed as they begin their daily work, you suddenly realise you are in the wonderful surroundings of London Regents Park in the midst of a glorious summer. The dawn on last Sunday July 23rd was broken by the familiar laughter and chattering sounds of Sri Lankan friends who had gathered, not to admire the rose bushes or fountains at this famous London park, but instead took part in a sponsored Charity Walk for a worthy cause to help the plight of sick children back at home.

One of the oldest Sri Lanka's past pupils Associations in the UK, the Past Pupils Association of Visakha Vidyalaya, led by the current president, Dr Harshishi Boralessa, organised a fundraising sponsored walk for-the Little Hearts Charity of Sri Lanka. The patron of the Association Mrs Laxmi de Soysa who has been ardently speaking for this cause for many years, as it has been close to her heart since the tragic loss of her own son due to severe congenital heart disease at the age of four.

"Little Hearts" it's an on-going charity project that has received attention from many people in Sri Lanka and around the world. Its aim is to save the lives of Sri Lankan babies born with severe congenital heart disease, who may otherwise die within the first year of life. Sadly, the reality is that thousands of Sri Lankan children with heart diseases and critical illnesses do not have timely access to life-saving treatment on the island.

Sri Lanka's renowned Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRHC) is the only tertiary care referral centre for juveniles with congenital heart disease and other critical illnesses in the country. The hospital's vision is to be a centre of excellence and build a Critical Care Unit with the state of the art medical facilities. The hospital's exceptionally dedicated staff make this institution the beacon of hope for families throughout the island. However, with its current limited capacity, it has been struggling to provide timely care for all the children as demand increases for the increasing numbers of young patients with heart complications. The total cost of the Little Hearts project at LRHC is Rs 2 billion and so far Rs 150million has been raised. With other donations already pledged, it is hoped that close to Rs 500million will soon be achieved. This project has taken on national significance and the SL Navy is also associated in supporting this charity's aims.

The driving force behind Little Hearts especially in UK, has been Laxmi De Soysa, who over many years has passionately appealed to her friends to reach out and help those unfortunate traumatised parents trying to care for their babies in tragic circumstances. This year she sent a letter to her fellow members at the PPA Visakha in the midst of their Centenary Year celebrations, that Little Hearts would be a worthwhile charity in Sri Lanka to support through a sponsored walk, in view of the urgent need and the importance of this mammoth task. The many people who gathered together at Regents Park experienced a wonderful time and helped to raise a considerable amount of funds for this worthy cause. Others who could not attend the Charity Walk yet who would like to support Little Hearts can send donations, however small, directly to Little Hearts, via the charity's website: https://www.littlehearts.lk/donation/. Alternatively, people may contact the Past Pupils Association of Visakha Vidyalaya in UK directly.
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