The wider Brisbane community has once again risen to the occasion to support the urgent appeal launched by the Federation of Sri Lankan Organisations of Queensland to cover shipping costs to send 350 hospital beds for critical patients in ICU wards in Sri Lanka.
The appeal was initiated following a plea from Sri Lankan doctors, who said there was a critical shortage.
Since the appeal was launched, the community has generously opened up their hearts and wallets and the funds stand at $36,000, exceeding the initial $21,000 needed to ship the 350 beds.
FSOQ president Jay Weerawardena said: “The response to our appeal has been overwhelming. Contributions range from $50 dollars for one bed to a full container load of beds.
“As you would agree, this amazing response reflects the trust they had in our unity, with all FSOQ community organisations giving their best to the campaign.”
Originally, seven 40-foot containers were to be engaged with shipping costs around $3000 a container.
Dr Weerawardena said the FSOQ had decided to leave the campaign open and now plans were under way to send 660 beds in 11 containers.
“As Bill Deutrom who has been coordinating many of our projects in Sri Lanka says, with the exponential increase of COVID-19 patients, hospitals can’t take patients any more as they don’t have enough beds. Over the last few months we have separately received requests for beds,” Dr Weerawardena said. “As you may know we have so far sent close to 3000 beds and these beds are serving emergency and ICU units all over the country. In addition to Western Province, our beds are in remote hospitals such as Jaffna, Vavuniya, Batticaloa etc. In fact, it has been our flagship project along with installation of water-purification plants in rural villages in Sri Lanka.”
The FSOQ is ready with the shipment and is waiting for shipping space. The containers are expected to be shipped in July or August, depending on schedules.
“As we are informed, currently there is a severe shortage of shipping space coming from the Suez Canal blockage. In this scenario, there is a likely chance of the costs going up a little. We are closely monitoring the situation and due diligence will be exercised with all payments,” Dr Weerawardena said.
A $300 insurance fee has been added to each shipment making it $3300 a container.
Dr Weerawardena said FSOQ treasurer Nandasiri Tennakoon had sent acknowledgements to every donor to the fund.
Updates would be posted on the FSOQ website, www.fsoq.com.au, and on 4EB radio programs.
Bill Deutrom, who is coordinating the delivery of beds in Sri Lanka said the situation in Sri Lanka was dire. Apart from the spread of COVID-19, the country was also dealing with floods and land slippages causing deaths.
He said every cent raised in the appeal would be used for the delivery of the beds.