7:15 AM

‘Four hundred babies born at Menik Farm every month’

‘Four hundred babies are born every month in IDP tents at Menik Farm, Vavuniya, and they are in need of considerable assistance and care’, Sarvodaya leader Dr A.T. Ariyaratne said yesterday while making a commemorative address in honour of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, at the SEDEC centre, Colombo.

Ariyaratne said that at the request of the health authorities at the Farm, Sarvodaya was able to put together and supply some 800 cots for the infants in a short period of time, although the initial requirement was 400 cots. ‘If Mother Theresa were alive today, she would have rushed to the IDP tents in Sri Lanka, to help the inmates there’, he quipped.

Stressing that Mother Theresa served the poorest of the poor in India, irrespective of communal and religious differences, Ariyaratne explained that the Mother mostly served Hindus and Muslims and that she ‘wanted them to practise their religions better.’ She never sought to convert them to Christianity, he pointed out. ‘This notorious act of converting people by giving them handouts or all kinds of favours is a shame and has led to many religious conflicts and violence in many countries. We should oppose and do away with this evil practice and help people to practise their religion better’, he explained.

In an informal exchange with this journalist, the Sarvodaya chief said that the situation of the Northern IDPs had improved over the months, although conditions were difficult when they rushed to the camps at the closing stages of the military conflict. Sarvodaya is helping out in the camps at present, he said.