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March 31, 2017
Devi Balika PPA (UK): 26th Annual General Meeting
On Saturday 18 March, the Devi Balika PPA held its 26th AGM at the Rising Sun Restaurant, Harrow. Outgoing President, Dr Harshi Boralessa, called for two minutes silence in remembrance of Mrs Venetia Gamage, the founder of our Association who passed away on 4 March. Dr Boralessa thanked the committee for their support during the year with organising a variety of activities.

The opening event, as usual, was the Founder's Day in memory of Dr Mrs Wimala de Silva, held on 7 May at the Buddhist Vihara, Chiswick. The Association currently funds twenty scholarships providing needy Devians in Sri Lankan universities. These scholarships are vital for them to complete their courses. The fundraising events - high tea in Harshi's leafy and spacious garden (24 July), first ever paduru party in Dr Malathie Peiris's house (24 September), dinner-dance at the Holiday Inn, Kingsbury (5 November) - raised a significant sum of money towards scholarships. Funds raised from the sponsored walk in Hampton Park on 26 June supported Sumithrayo, whose efforts to raise awareness of suicide has been acknowledged nationally. The Association considered Sumithrayo's excellent work with helping the helpless in both rural and urban Sri Lanka, a most worthy cause to support. We were also invited to sponsor the 90th anniversary of the London Buddhist Vihara on 15 September.

Audited accounts were presented and Mrs Vinitha de Alwis as the auditor gave an overview of how we have financially supported the school over the years. Harshi handed over the responsibility of taking the Association to even greater heights to the incoming President, Malathie. In her speech, Malathie assured the Committee that she will modernise the Association making use of the dynamics of information technology in order to engage Devians in the diaspora based in different parts of the world and those who are unable to attend all the committee meetings.

One of the aims of the Association was to provide a forum for networking and the Rising Sun was a most suitable venue to start off the new year. Its spread of curries and particularly the freshly baked hoppers for which there was an endless queue were most welcome after the spicy starters and cups of Ceylon tea that were served before the formal meeting. The sweetness of the watalappan was just right to cool off the spices. After that it was time to let our hair down; Devians and their guests needed little coaxing to get off their seats and move to the rhythms of the impelling sounds of Sri Lankan music. The dinner tables were swiftly moved aside to make more space for dancing. A surprise ‘Happy Birthday’ to Malathie after which we were treated to a delicious chocolate cake which provided us with more energy to keep dancing through the night.

'Old Devians' were united in solidarity and inspiration to take the Association's work to a different level in the coming year. The AGM was also a kind of celebration of the most successful Silver Jubilee Year.

Dr Shihan de Silva
Assistant Treasurer
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