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Press Releases

Youth Empowerment Grant Supports Hearing Impaired Communities

October 31, 2013
Ambassador Sison and Embassy’s Public Affairs Director Chris Teal with the members of the Vadamarachchi Organization of the Deaf.

Ambassador Sison and Embassy’s Public Affairs Director Chris Teal with the members of the Vadamarachchi Organization of the Deaf.

U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele Sison paid a visit to Youth Empowerment Grantee Vadamarachchi Organization of the Deaf (VOD) on October 30.  This Jaffna-based organization recently participated in a program with the Southern Province Deaf Association in a residential youth camp.  The objectives of the program were to build understanding and bridge differences among Muslim, Tamil, and Sinhalese youth and to enrich the lives of people with hearing impairment in Sri Lanka.  Camp participants developed interpersonal and problem solving skills, engaged in personal development, and practiced creative arts in Sign Language. One of the goals of the camp was to promote a wider understanding in society about the skills and needs of hearing impaired Sri Lankans.

Meeting with members of VOD, Ambassador Sison told the group:  “We are pleased that members of the deaf community from the north and the south are working more closely, thanks to a Youth Empowerment Grant.  The needs of both communities are so similar, and by joining together, you will be stronger advocates for those with hearing impairments across the country.”

In 2013, the U.S. Embassy awarded $173,481 (approximately SLR 22.5 million) to 18 Youth Empowerment Grant winners whose projects will help enhance their local communities.  Chosen from an extremely competitive pool of proposals, the 18 winning recipients were awarded for creative ideas that will benefit local communities and make a difference through youth leadership. These grants represent a commitment by the Embassy to support civil society and encourage reconciliation in every community of Sri Lanka.