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The real friend in deed

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Colombo Friend in Need Society marks 190 years of service tomorrow, March 16

 

  • Prof. Sethi gave advice on the manufactured of these limbs and CFINS accepted the challenge to produce and supply these items and launched the new project in 1983 by training technicians and setting up a workshop.
  • By 1985 CFINS was manufacturing and supplying Prosthetics, which was identified as the Jaipur foot, but since then diligent and enthusiastic committees of the past and present have been driven to modernize and improve the original Prosthetics.

 

The Colombo Friend in Need Society (CFINS), also now known as the Jaipur Centre is the oldest charity in Sri Lanka, providing yeoman service to society over the decades. Launched on March 16, 1831, by Lieutenant Governor Sir Edward Barnes, when Ceylon was a British Colony, it is commemorating its 190 years tomorrow.  
Beginning with the setting-up of the first medical facility in 1840 in Jaffna, followed by medical facilities around the country in the mid-1850s, to being a hospital for Allied Forces during the world war period, and looking after the poor and disabled in Colombo, the demand for charity to be extended in another sphere sprang up with the civil war that ravaged the country. The cry for prosthetics for the soldiers, victims of land mines and civilians could not be ignored.  


In May 1983 Professor P.K. Sethi, an Indian Orthopaedic Surgeon, and pioneer of the Jaipur Foot visited Sri Lanka on an invitation by UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Services was introduced by Mrs Kulaseeli Perera. 
Prof. Sethi gave advice on the manufactured of these limbs and CFINS accepted the challenge to produce and supply these items and launched the new project in 1983 by training technicians and setting up a workshop. By 1985 CFINS was manufacturing and supplying Prosthetics, which was identified as the Jaipur foot, but since then diligent and enthusiastic committees of the past and present have been driven to modernize and improve the original Prosthetics. 


CFINS also initiated limb manufacturing facilities in Kundasale - Kandy, Jaffna and Galle which were subsequently decentralized, and operate on their own at present.  
Since then, the CFINS has progressed very much since then and CFINS’ limbs have currently being updated using 3D technology. 


CFINS now boasts of a 30 bed Ward / Hostel that not only offers free food and accommodation but physiotherapy, trauma counselling and aftercare. 
The exhaustive search to obtain a bus for the mobile services was answered in 2001 when a British charity service “Hope for Children” and The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund who with two other charitable Organizations donated its first mobile bus. 
In the years to follow its efforts to extend a better service with a more modern better-equipped Bus began, and in 2016 The Rotary Club of Capital City and a consortium of Rotary Clubs in Mumbai, India gifted a better equipped larger bus with additional services. 


This includes testing the vision and providing reading spectacles, hearing testing, Blood Pressure, Diabetes and BMI tests at each camp in addition to providing prosthetic limbs using the mobile bus. 
CFINS has serviced 86 medical camps in the most remote areas of Sri Lanka. Its limb receivers vary in age and in need from land mine to accident victims, those born with congenital defects, diabetes and cancer patients, all those who desperately attempt to live a life of normalcy. 


In addition to these services, CFINS has projects by which an amputee can begin a fresh lease of hope and life by embarking on a new venture for which they can obtain an interest-free loan from the CFINS. 
There is also a scholarship programme for the children who are amputees and receive a monthly stipend towards their needs. But the icing on the cake is the annual sports meet for amputees – receivers of prosthetics from all over the Island to come and compete at an annual Sports meet called AIDEX, held in Colombo. This is a brainchild of Professor A.H. Sheriffdeen who tirelessly organized this incredible task, by which every contestant and his family is enabled to come and compete, while their transport fees and food are all provided free of charge. 


“I wish the Colombo Friend in Need Society success in its future endeavour to help amputees and the disabled,” Professor A.H. Sherifdeen who is also the Vice President of the Society said. 
There are generous gifts from bicycles to cash donations to attractive gift packs. It is an event that all contestants -from young children to senior citizens- impatiently await.  
Behind the execution of all these activities are individuals who tirelessly donate their money, time and effort to make it a commitment that will not fall short of its title to be a Friend in Need to those who need CFINS to be there with compassion and a helping hand immaterial of caste, creed or religion. 


Yet, the efforts of the volunteer Board of Management would not be a success if not for the support extended by CFINS’ office staff headed by Sarath Kumara, S.M.S. Bandara, Ms Lalani, Ms Nilanthi and the team of co-workers work diligently towards the perfection of the tasks entailed to them. Last but not least the workshop technicians who work tirelessly to manufacture the prosthetics under S.S. Devarajan and Karunasena. 
Over the years CFINS has provided over 30,244 limbs and 3,251 prostheses free of charge to the needy. 
It has also provided limbs and braces to various animals over the years. 


“This is done with the generosity of donors who provide the funds enabling the CFINS to continue its free service. In the build-up to celebrate the anniversary, it has just completed the extensive renovation and refurbishment of the 30-bed ward/hostel in a 66-year-old building and the refurbishment and upgrade of the mobile bus,”  President of CFINS Supem D.S. de Silva said.
In view of harnessing the excitement and energy built up over the years; the following ambitious plans and activities are afoot:

 

 

Mental well-being: strengthening response

More emphasis will be given to the rehabilitation aspect by improving the in-house ward facilities to handle the mental/psychological rehabilitation program. Physical and mental health will be a key area of focus to help amputees and persons with disabilities to overcome odds and lead a normal life.

Physiotherapeutic intervention: a must for amputee rehabilitation

Provide full physiotherapy rehabilitation services for in house and OPD patients assisted by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. At the moment, the in-house Physiotherapist uses the telemedicine platform to treat amputees which will be enhanced further.

3D - printed prosthetic limbs: the next revolution

Introduce 3D scanning and printing of prosthetic limbs and renovating and upgrading the old workshop using the latest state of the art technology. This will enable CFINS to also provide facilities to other limb manufacturers both local and overseas and to be a centre of excellence in 3D printing providing training to regional countries.

Tele-medicine: The need of the hour remote care for amputees

Introduce the telemedicine app, a digital health care service where a patient can consult the CFINS Prosthetist & Orthotist (P&O) or Physiotherapist over a video call where the charges are paid by CFINS thus reducing travel and cost for an amputee to visit the Centre.

Special events: the drivers and anchors of CFINS’ cause 

Improve the Health Screening functions in the mobile camps and provide 10,000 reading spectacles in the 190th year.
CFINS will partner with more service organisations in different parts of Sri Lanka to conduct mobile camps to ensure that the people most in need are provided NCD (Non-Communicable Disease) screening services. 
Conduct charity events to raise funds and awareness of differently-abled persons using prosthetic limbs and raise awareness of Diabetes which is at present the main cause of amputation. CFINS will engage the corporate sector and other service organizations to support and conduct more mobile health screening camps, under their Corporate Social Responsibility programs as well.

Partnerships: for lasting impact, influence and to make a social difference

CFINS has also started the process to certify the CFINS workshop as a NAITA/TVEC training centre and to obtain the ISO certification. This will enable CFINS to upgrade the skills of the existing technicians and also give an opportunity, for young people to be trained and certified to obtain gainful skilled employment overseas.
Psychological, psycho-social and physiological rehabilitation have to go hand in hand and CFINS would ensure CFINS services are entirely aligned to provide holistic care.

  Colombo Friend In Need Society,  
  No. 171, Sir James Pieris Mawatha, Colombo 2. 
  94 11 2421651 / 94 11 2544992, cfins@sltnet.lk, 
  www.facebook.com/colombofriendinneedsociety@cfins  
  www.cfins.org  

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