A Free Community Health Fair was organized by the Georgia Buddhist Vihara on 25 July 2021 with the participation of seven Sri Lankan expatriate Physicians representing the three major religions of the world: Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism. Participants of the health fair were provided with medical consultation, including administering the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
Following the health fair, a virtual meeting was held recently with the organizers of the event, including Prof. Unil Perera, Nodal point of the Pan US Overseas Sri Lankans (OSL) network in the State of Georgia, and the Physicians who participated in the health fair Dr. Harsha Navarathna, Dr. Erandathi Rodrigo, Dr. H. P. Gunawardena, Dr. Lihinie Almeida, Dr. Nilni Kulkrani, Dr. Indran Indrakrishnan to share their experiences of the event and to acknowledge their valuable contribution towards the benefit of the OSL community living in Georgia.
Joining the meeting in a pre-recorded message, the Congressional Member representing the 4th Congressional District of Georgia, who is also the Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Caucus of Sri Lanka, Congressman Hank Johnson said "although the event was organized by the Georgia Buddhist Vihara, I understand seven physicians from the Sri Lankan community representing three of the world's major religions - Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism - came together and volunteered to make this event a model moving forward". He added "I can't express enough how happy it makes me that here in the Fourth District, people of religious and ethnic differences are united to help the people of our community, as well as forging stronger ties between our community and Sri Lanka". Congressman Johnson also said that as the "new Democratic Co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Americans, I have had the opportunity to discuss with the Ambassador how we can further strengthen US-Sri Lanka Relations, and also ways the Diaspora can assist Sri Lanka".
Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the USA, Ravinatha Aryasinha, who appreciated Congressman Johnsons' contribution as Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Caucus of Sri Lanka, praised the OSLs residing in Georgia for their continuous support towards the well-being of their community and the people in Sri Lanka. The Ambassador specifically commended the Physicians who had joined the community health fair and said, "you are serving humanity at a very difficult time, with the COVID crisis coming." While noting the participation of Sri Lankan Physicians from different ethnicities, Ambassador said, "I think it is very important from my perspective that we as Sri Lankans come together on doing things for our community. We must reciprocate by participating in each other's things. Because then only we can bring back an overarching Sri Lankan identity". Highlighting the importance of building a strong network of OSLs in the US, Ambassador said, "when I came to the US in early December 2020, something I found was that our connectivity across the country was weak. I wanted to reach out to Sri Lankans across the US who are interested in trying to do something which will enhance and improve the image of the country". He added that "the Pan US OSL network which has been initiated by the Embassy in January 2021 has been a catalyst in connecting those overseas Sri Lankans, across the 50 States".
The organizers and the physicians who participated in the free health fair expressed their willingness to support further activities which would be beneficial to the community in Georgia, as well as the communities back in Sri Lanka.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
17 August 2021