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Communal harmony prevails in Panama

PANAMA: The people of all communities in Panama live in perfect peace and harmony. They seemed to pay attention to anything other than their means of livelihood.

During our recent visit to Panama, we witnessed women in the area have organised themselves to set up their own co-operative system for the welfare of the community.

The driving force behind the success of the co-operative project is the group consciousness among them. Iyangari Subramaniam, a Tamil woman married to a Sinhalese is a leading member of Panama Women’s Co-operative Society.

She is engaged in brick-making throughout the day to eke out a living. She turns out about 300 bricks a day and sell them each at Rs. 38.

Water is the live-wire of her project. Iyangari and her husband leave no stone unturned to accomplish their future dream of providing a better and more secure place for their only toddler. The Co-operative Society helps its membership by granting loans ranging from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000.

The STROME Foundation provides financial assistance to the co-operative society. “It is mainly because of the group loans scheme that defaulters have become less. Loans are mostly granted for agriculture and fishing. Membership is on the increase daily. “We are able to reap a big ‘harvest’ within a short period,” a directress of the society said.

In Panama, the majority are Sinhalese but inter-communal marriages between Sinhalese and Tamils take place very often. They all live together as Sri Lankans in perfect harmony.

Janaki, who labours throughout the day for the upkeep of her family says “Most of us are low-income families. We did not have fishing gear or nets.” Within a relatively short period the poor families have been able to achieve stability. The bank which provides money to the poor people became the hub of activity in the village.

The patronage extended by STROME Foundation is tremendous for the women uplift in the terror-stricken East Sri Lanka.

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
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