Colombo, June 14 (Xinhua): When the Sri Lankan government announced an island-wide curfew on March 20 to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, Jinith De Silva, Acting President of the Sri Lanka-China Society (SLCS), was eager to use his connections with China to secure help for his country – Sri Lanka.
“I wrote to several organizations in China and asked them to help us fight the virus. Sixteen organizations including the Amity Foundation in Nanjing and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) responded generously,” De Silva said his eyes gleaming with pride.
Donations amounting to 126,564 U.S. dollars, including 308,600 face masks, 1,600 face shields, 2,400 goggles and 400 protective gowns, were handed over to the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing and to Sri Lanka’s Consulates General in Shanghai and Guangzhou.
“I am touched by the fact that every Chinese friend responded immediately. Some Chinese foreign friendship organizations sent us more than they had promised. Some doubled it,”De Silva pointed out.
The Chinese donations drew praise from both the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who tweeted: “Our sincere appreciation to Sri Lanka-China Society for coordinating the donations.”
From day one of the curfew, De Silva had been working to make the best of the people-to-people ties forged between the SLCS and friendship organizations in China. In the past few years, the SLCS has inked memoranda of understanding with a number of such organizations.
“As a developing country, Sri Lanka’s biggest difficulty in combating the pandemic stemmed from insufficient medical resources. Every morning, the first thing I used to do was to check on the donations we were seeking,” De Silva recalled.
He regards the government and people of China as all-weather friends, giving much needed aid during times of crises. Donations form the Chinese government, and from Chinese private companies and individuals were critical in bringing the outbreak in Sri Lanka under control, he said.
“At present, the situation in Sri Lanka has been alleviated, and curfew is being relaxed gradually. I am very pleased that we did not waste the curfew period and were able to receive anti-epidemic material from China fast, despite the curfew,” De Silva said.
(The picture above shows members of the Sri Lanka China Society demonstrating in Colombo in support of China’scampaign against coronavirus)