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U.S. Partnership Promotes Growth, Helps Vulnerable, and Brings Communities Together in the East

October 29, 2012
Ambassador Sison, along with the Eastern Province Chief Minister M. Najeeb Abdul Majeed, opened a USAID-funded center for workers with disabilities to create handicrafts for sale to tourists.

Ambassador Sison, along with the Eastern Province Chief Minister M. Najeeb Abdul Majeed, opened a USAID-funded center for workers with disabilities to create handicrafts for sale to tourists.

On October 26, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Michele Sison, opened the “Sea the Differences” Training and Production Center in Selvanayagapuram, Trincomalee.  The Center’s inauguration was attended by Eastern Province Chief Minister M. Najeeb Abdul Majeed and Chief Secretary D.M.S. Abaygunawardana. The Center will empower people with disabilities, providing training and income generation opportunities. This initiative is a partnership between the U.S. Government’s development arm - the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an Eastern-based foundation - Arumbugal Foundation, and the Department of Social Services - Eastern Province. USAID supports the Center under its VEGA/ BIZ+ program which provides grants along with technical and managerial assistance to small- and medium-size businesses.   

Ambassador Sison and Eastern Province Chief Minister M. Najeeb Abdul Majeed looked at handicrafts created by workers with disabilities, including frames.

Ambassador Sison and Eastern Province Chief Minister M. Najeeb Abdul Majeed looked at handicrafts created by workers with disabilities, including frames.

Over the next two years, at least 100 people with disabilities will receive training at the “Sea the Differences” Center, learning how to produce handicrafts and souvenirs. The Arumbugal Foundation will purchase the finished products and sell them to retailers and hotels in the region. The Center in Trincomalee is Arumbugal Foundation's second training and production center, with the first located in Batticaloa. At present, demand for the Foundation's products exceeds production capacity. The Foundation is also in the process of locating new sales outlets, with a special focus on Trincomalee.  

“Through this partnership, over 100 disabled individuals will receive training and livelihood opportunities. Most importantly, this initiative will help create awareness and appreciation of their capacities and abilities while connecting them with mainstream society,” said Ambassador Sison at the opening ceremony. 

USAID will also help Arumbugal Foundation establish small-scale businesses by building a restaurant in Isha Water Park, a holiday bungalow in Uppeveli and by purchasing a 32-seat passenger bus to transport disabled people. The main aim of this support is to help the Foundation become self-sufficient and provide training grounds for Training and Production Center graduates. 

“I thank the American people for supporting the development of the Eastern Province,” declared the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province.

 The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided development and humanitarian assistance in developing countries worldwide for nearly 50 years.  Since 1956, the U.S. government has invested over $2 billion to benefit all the people of Sri Lanka.