On Saturday 13th December 2014, DABAL (Deaf and Blind Aid Lanka-UK Registered Charity No: 1123487) founded ten years ago, celebrated their achievements. Each year the Charity supports educational facilities in two Deaf and Blind schools in Sri Lanka. Ivan Corea introduced the speakers and his lively compering informed the guests of the order for the afternoon.
Ameera Hussain (Chairperson) warmly welcomed the guests. Then the Patron, Lord Low of Dalston, former Chairman of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) congratulated the members of DABAL and said that it called for an occasion to celebrate. The event was held at the RNIB due to his generosity and recognition of the important work that DABAL was conducting for handicapped Sri Lankan children. Dr Kokila Waidyaratne (Minister Education of the Sri Lanka High Commission, London) spoke on behalf of the High Commission. Sarath Weerasinghe, a founder member of DABAL, enlightened the guests about the history of the Charity, highlighting the core founder members, Priya and Nadani Welikala, Ameera and Feisal Hussain, Beulah Mendis, late Brian Fishburn, Vicky and Jeyam Tambiah, Freda de Silva and Sarath who met as friends at Sekera Restaurant for Dinner on 7th November 2004 and decided to give back to their motherland, as expatriates living in England, to help the disabled children of Sri Lanka.
Dr Shihan de Silva spoke on Leonard Woolf's impressions of Sri Lanka based on his novel "The Village in the Jungle", widely read on the island. Everyone then enjoyed a delicious lunch of biryani and its accompaniments followed by wattalappan and fruit salad generously provided by Mr Bilal Omar of Golden Platter. The musical entertainment began with Dr Angeline Kanagasooriam's self accompanied angelic singing ("I Wander as I Wander", "Mary's Song", "No more than a Manger" and "O Holy Night"). She then accompanied Francesca Welikala Ashfield's performance on the flute of Enesco's "Cantabile" and "Cantilena" from Poulen's Flute Sonata. Sarath Weerasinghe took the guests down memory lane by singing Jim Reeve's "He'll have to go" and "I Love you because". These were followed by a sad song - "Ol' Man River" - and a seasonal song - "White Christmas". We then heard a piano performance by Dr Marilyn Herman of Chopin's "Prelude No 15" and Liszt's "Consolation No 3", both beautifully played on the grand piano. The music then shifted towards Sri Lanka with Dr Hemal Jayasuriya singing a Sinhala folk song ("Isurumuniye") followed by a baila song ("Lankavate Baila genã Wally Bastianz"). He then provided the drum rhythms whilst Dr Shihan de Silva played -"Ran pota thelambuwe" with Mrs Mona Swaris playing the tambourine.
At tea time, the beautifully decorated birthday cake made by Mrs Maria Perera was cut by the Patron Lord Low and Lady Low and the trustees. Guests indulged in tea and cake. In keeping with the festive mood, members of the Westminster Cathedral Choir sang "O, Come all ye faithful", "Hark the herald angels sing", "O little town of Bethlehem" and "Silent Night" accompanied by Enrico. Finally Mr Priya Welikala (Treasurer) gave the Vote of Thanks. The event ended with everyone singing "The Hymn of Ceylon" played by Mrs Mona Swaris, a fitting finale to an event where the the diaspora gathered to actively support a most worthwhile cause in a land dear to them all. The event whilst recognising the hardwork of DABAL over the past ten years and its effectiveness provided new inspiration for its future work.