We work in Sri Lanka with our affiliate HelpAge Sri Lanka, one of our oldest network partners. The work is primarily focused on Senior Citizens Committees that are established throughout Sri Lanka. Senior citizens are primarily interested in issues of health, livelihoods and rights.
HelpAge Sri Lanka owns and operates an eye hospital in Colombo providing free cataract operations and medical services to older people and operates a dedicated training unit providing training to carers of older people.
More recently HelpAge Sri Lanka has also been instrumental in lobbying for a universal old age allowance.
Life story: Piyaseeli, 61
(c) Mayur Paul/HelpAge International "From the day my husband died, I started sewing to earn money. At first, I had a machine that you had to pedal. I worked 12 hours a day. It was very hard and gave me aches in my knees and joints.
"I was also caring for my granddaughter Nithiya, as my daughter worked in a factory. I used to wake up at 4.30am and cook for the family."
Then Piyaseeli joined a older people's association, which gave her a small grant towards buying a better sewing machine.
Her income has tripled, now she can work faster and the pain and inflammation in her legs has gone.
"Without HelpAge, we would have been in trouble. The grant made me believe in myself because if someone is willing to give me money at my age that is very good.
"With the grant I was able to buy a new sewing and interlocking machine. Now I am now able to make mosquito nets, door mats and bags as well. Now I make more money and my knees are also better.
"My only wish for the future is to educate my granddaughter."
Supporting older people in Sri Lanka
Over the last year, we have supported older people in Sri Lanka in several areas:
- We have helped 10,200 members of senior citizens committees to improve or start up a business.
- We have also helped to register 2,760 older people onto financial service schemes, such as setting up bank accounts so they could save and access loans to expand their businesses.
Health and social care
- HelpAge Sri Lanka have an eye hospital in Colombo which provides free cataract operations and eyecare services to older people. 3,600 cataract operations have been carried out.
- For older people in rural areas, we arranged mobile medical units to visit them which provided eyecare services to over 12,000 older people.
- HelpAge Sri Lanka have helped 4,420 older people to access primary healthcare including funding transport, treatment or medicines.
- HelpAge Sri Lanka have prepared a disaster response plan to put into action if a disaster strikes. This includes providing mobile medical units, food, mobility aids and other items such as water bottles, bed sheets, towels and mosquito nets.
- They have also trained 57 senior citizens committees in how to spot risks and help out in the event of a natural disaster.
Advocacy and rights
- HelpAge Sri Lanka lobbies local and national authorities to include older people’s issues in government policies and programmes. As part of the global Age Demands Action campaign in 2012, HelpAge Sri Lanka successfully lobbied for a universal pension for all those aged 70 and above.
- They have also helped 9,580 older
people to receive essential documentation so they can access state services and have helped 6,580 older people to claim
government health entitlements, such as health insurance.
- We will lobby for the age of eligibility for the
state pension to be
reduced from 70 years to 60 years.
- We will continue to improve health and eye
care facilities for older people in Sri Lanka.
- We will continue to improve the economic status of older people by offering livelihood support, such as grants, loans and training.