On the 21st of March 2011, The Give Light Foundation in collaboration with AAM Marleen Foundation of Sri Lanka had its foundation stone laying ceremony in efforts to begin construction of the Give Light Home Orphanage and Community Services Complex, in the city of Atulugama, Panadura, Sri Lanka. This was an endeavor that began close to a year ago, when The Give Light foundation decided to expand its reach out to the needy orphans of Sri Lanka. The devastating outcome of the Tsunami victimized the lives of thousands leaving many families displaced and children orphaned. The partnership between The Give Light Foundation and AAM Marleen Foundation of Sri Lanka was inaugurated on the 17th of July 2010 in Colombo Sri Lanka, with Chief Guest Honorable Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Guest of Honor, Mrs. Dian Alyan, President, The Give Light Foundation and many other distinguished guests and delegates from other nations.
A few days prior to the event, I arrived in Sri Lanka to make the necessary arrangements to prepare for this endeavor. Since the acquisition of the land in the city of Atulugama, almost a year ago, our counterparts in Colombo, Sri Lanka have worked very hard and diligently in finalizing the architectural, structural drawings, securing the necessary state and government building permits, finalizing the tender process for the construction and coordinating logistical measures needed to commence construction of the project. Given the challenges they faced, this was a major accomplishment in such a short time frame. As we visited the site to prepare the location for the ceremony, the local community members kept approaching us at the site in huge numbers thanking our organization for what we hope to accomplish referring to us as “All of you are God sent to help our community and Allah will reward all of you and your families with the highest in this world and the hereafter for what you are about to do for this community”. Within an hour of our presence there were close to a hundred people pledging their support, commitment to help and be a part of this project in any manner possible.
AAM Marleen Foundation was honored with the participation and support of Honorable D.M. Jayaratne, Prime Minister (Vice President) of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka as the Chief Guest, Honorable A.H.M. Fowzie, Senior Minister of Urban Affairs, as the guest of Honor, Honorable Rauf Hakeem, Minister of Justice, Hon. Tudor Jayaratne, former Deputy Minister of Health, His Excellency Hussain Shihab Ambassador of Maldives to Sri Lanka, Venerable Galtude Panyakeerthi Nayake Chief Priest of Galtude Temple , any many other members of parliament, dignitaries and leaders of other community organizations of Sri Lanka.
The ceremony began with a recital from the holy Quran, followed by the welcome speech By Shahram Marleen, President of AAM Marleen Foundation and Liaison to The Give Light Foundation. In the welcome speech, the community was thanked for its support and more details of the scope of the project, timelines of completion was mentioned to the leaders and community members. Next were two short speeches by the religious leaders of the local community, Sheikh Arkam Noor Amith and Chief Budhist priest Galtude Panyakeerthi. Both leaders stressed the importance of unity, need for all Muslims and Budhists having the need to work together and benefit from this community project. Later was a speech the Honorable Tudor Dayarante, chief representative of the district of Atulugama, where the project is held thanked both Give Light and AAM Marleen Foundation for its support in helping bring life to the local community he represents. He also extended the full cooperation and support of his administration towards making this project a success. Following Honorable Tudor Dayrante’s pleasant words, Chief Guest, Honorable D.M. Jayarantne, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, expressed his deepest gratitude towards both organizations in taking such a keen interest in the poor and needy of Sri Lanka. He further stressed the importance of the need for all ethnic and religious groups in the community to work together in making this project successful. “As much as the organizations will do their part in making this project a reality, the need for each individual of this community to use its services to the fullest, to be a part of the project, its operations and volunteer in its cause is my plea to all of you” said the Prime Minister in his closing statements.
After the conclusion of the speeches, we proceeded to the staging area where the foundation stone was to be laid. Following Adan (the call for prayer) The Prime Minister laid the first stone, followed by the guest of Honor, Minister of Justice, delegates and members of the Board of AAM Marleen Foundation. Upon conclusion, everyone headed back to their seats in preparation for the conclusion of the program.
Shortly after, the honorary plaque commemorating the foundation laying ceremony, which was to be placed upon completion of the building, was unveiled by the Chief Guest. After the plaque commemoration ,mementos were presented to the chief guest and the guest of honor by the President of AAM Marleen Foundation in appreciation of their support and participation in the event.
A special feature, where a gifted 12 year old child, blind by birth, from the local community sang a Nasheed prior to the conclusion. Dr Sheroon Aslam, Vice President of AAM Marleen Foundation, presented the final vote of thanks to the community followed by closing duas which concluded the ceremony.
The Give Light Home Orphanage and Community Complex will begin construction early June of 2011, Inshallah with hopes of completion between 8 months to a year from then. Alhamdulaillah the event was a great success thanks to all the dedicated volunteers, affiliate partner organization AAM Marleen Foundation, its board members, administrative staff, the members of the local community of Atulugama and most importantly due to the blessings and grace of Almighty Allah.
-Shahram Marleen, President