LRH project to mark 125th anniversary | Sunday Observer

LRH project to mark 125th anniversary

18 October, 2020

“If There is a Will There is a Way" was the title of one out of nearly thousand books gifted to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH), in Colombo on September 18, 2020, coinciding with the year of its 125th anniversary.

LRH Director, LRH Dr. Wijesuriya Garusinghe told gathering, that he received a telephone call from Australia and a lady unknown to him inquired about a project she wanted to carry out to bring smiles to the young patients at LRH. This was how the project “Magical Adventures of Little Kia”, became a reality. The project being the brainchild of Mrs Tharuka Prematillake, a Sri Lankan born Researcher at The University of Queensland in Australia, needed only the approval of the Director to fulfil her dream.

The aim of the project is for enhanced psychological well-being for young patients at the LRH who might feel alone. Dr. Wijesuriya said that Tharuka believed, reading and therapeutic bedside play could help the child to be happy and respond more positively to negative experiences of hospitalisation, illness, boredom and subsequent challenging life events.

Nearly 1,000 novels and story books in Sinhala, Tamil and English, 100 mind stimulating activities such as board games and jigsaw puzzles and book trolleys were purchased or donated to the hospital. The Director commended the donations as an initial step, and appreciated Tharuka’s idea of expanding this service to other wards too.

Tharuka conceived this idea when she was volunteering on a weekly basis for three consecutive years at the Children’s Cancer Foundation in National University Hospital, Singapore. She gained experience on how therapeutic bedside play and activities could bring a positive impact on a patient’s mental and emotional well-being.

Her dream was to do something similar in Sri Lanka too. The project Magical Adventures of Little Kia was recognised by Dr. Wijeysuriya and promised to give support to develop Reading Corners and setting up more Reading Corners for the remaining 20 wards as well.

Dr. Wijesuriya ensured the assistance of Matron Mrs. Priyanka Jayasinghe for the project. Anyone interested in this generous cause, could give new books and used books in good condition, to the project. For further details, visit Magical Adventures of Little Kia Facebook page or Email to [email protected] or WhatsApp messages only to Tharuka at +61 451 638 129. It is interesting to know how “Magical Adventures of Little Kia” came into being. During Covid-19 isolation in April 2020, Tharuka along with her then 15-year-old son, Thehansa Thibbotuwawa, would collect nature items such as stones, sticks, flowers and leaves during the daily walks in Brisbane. This collection ended up in eye catching nature craft creations by mother and son on Tharuka’s Facebook Profile. Encouraged by positive reactions she received requests to preserve these creations to inspire children to love the beauty of Mother Nature, the idea of a book for children came into her mind. Thus, she has invited seven little children – to narrate their imagination depicting the nature craft picture creations she uploaded on her FB page.

With seven short stories through the imaginary and narrative minds of little enthusiastic authors, the book ends with a story written by Tharuka herself. The book is a fine combination of Mother Nature and innocence of little imaginary minds. The book was printed and published by Tharuka. Two hundred copies of the books were sold out within a week. Copies are in school libraries in Australia and Sri Lanka. The sale proceeds of the books were pooled into ‘Magical Adventures of Little Kia’ LRH Reading Corner Project.

“There is nothing more satisfactory and fulfilling than seeing little children being inspired by this book. I would also like to tell parents to encourage their children to spend more time with Mother Nature, everywhere they go. From my son, I realised children are born with amazing sense of imagination and wonder. Children love nature, and because of my little son, today, I observe so much beauty and fascination in an otherwise ordinary stone on the road,” Tharuka said.

Tharuka extends her gratitude to Dr Wijeysuriya, Mrs Jayasinghe and LRH hospital staff, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Mohamed Rishard, De Zoysa Hospital for Women and his wife Mrs Fathima Ansar and Tharuka’s family members, especially her parents (Mrs Renuka Prematillake and Sarath Premathilake) and Mrs Achini Somachandra for their continuous support. 

Mrs Renuka Prematillake, Sarath Premathilake (Tharuka's parents) and Mrs Achini Somachandra (mother of two little authors)  hand over a copy of the storybook Magical Adventures of Little Kia to the  Director LKR

The team hands over the books and puzzles to the LRH Director