The COVID-19 pandemic forced Sri Lanka into a sudden lockdown as the healthcare workers and country’s leadership grappled with an unprecedented phenomenon that they were not prepared to face. Entire communities were affected by the fast-spreading virus that soon reached all parts of the country. Among the communities greatly affected by the period of extended lockdown were the inhabitants of the Nayanaloka village in Negombo. This village is widely known for the visually impaired community that calls it home. The villagers are skilled craftsman who weave household linen and earn a living from the sale of their wares. The unexpected spread of a deadly virus and travel restrictions placed this community in a very desperate situation.

As   part   of   its   response   to   the   emergency   situation that had arisen in the country, LEADS reached  out  to  persons  across  Sri  Lanka  that  were    affected    and    to    groups    in    need    of    assistance.  Vital  equipment  was  donated  to  hospitals,   frontline   health   officers   were equipped    with    facemasks,    PPE    kits    were    distributed   among   hospital   staff   and   local   government     authorities,     assistance     were     provided   for   quarantine   centres,   packs   of   hygiene      items      were      distributed      among      patients infected with the virus and dry ration packs       were       distributed       among       Child       Development Centres and families affected by the  virus.  When  LEADS  came  to  know  of  the  distress     faced     by     the     visually     impaired     community    of    Nayanaloka    through    social    workers, it distributed packs of essential items among 45 families in this community.

Hemachandra  is  73  years  old  and  as  a  person  with  a  visual  impairment,  his  situation  in  life  became   even   more   complicated   when   the   pandemic raged through Sri Lanka. It has been several  years  since  his  wife  and  son  passed  away while two surviving children are married and   living   away   from   home.   Hemachandra   depends on his siblings who look after him and tend to his needs. Nevertheless, the pandemic meant that it was unsafe for his sister to leave home for work. “We had to isolate ourselves and stay   at   home   because   of   the   situation   in   the   country”   says   Hemachandra,   explaining   the   difficulties  his  family  faced  during  the  first wave     of     COVID-19     and     expressing     his     gratitude     to     LEADS     for     the     assistance     received. “As someone who depends on others to provide for me, I am truly happy to be able to take this     pack     of     rations     home     today”     says     Hemachandra. 

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