Miranda hemalatha Kala Ashramaya has a history of fifty seven years, started in 1957 with three children at panadura, Kalutara district in the western province of sri lanka. In 1958 the first dance drama of Ms. Miranda hemalatha was precented by this institute called “Vasantha Thilaka” . Since then this institute has been precenting a number of dance programs with a lot of innovations and experiments in the field of traditional and creative dances directed and Choreographed by Mrs. Miranda Hemalatha. “Ranga Dhara”, “Ranga Leela”, Nupura Rawaya”, “Sanchari”, “Narthana Reka”, “Gemi Mihira”, “Shastrie”, “Geethangee”, etc were Highly Commended by the critics.
Miranda’s haven for differently abled
Well known dancing guru, Miranda Hemalatha has initiated another worthy cause with ‘Diri Daru Piyasa’ a fine art and vocational training centre for differently able and slow learning children, a residential institute at River Road, Kindelpitiya on April 21, 2008. A plot of land received as a donation as a token of gratitude for her untiring efforts to uncover and promote the abilities of differently able children in the remote parts of Sri Lanka. Miranda exposed the rare talents of differently able children at her concert ‘Diriya Narthana’ in 2004. Impressed by her effort the public supported her good cause. Over the years she has served as educationist, researcher and performer in the field of performing arts. Miranda Hemalatha’s Kala Adhramaya seek further public support to complete the building of the institute.
Diri Daru Piyasa (Special Childrens Unit of Miranda Hemalatha Kala Ashramaya)
“Diri daru Piyasa” is a project started in 2003 by the educationist and the renowned artist Miranda Hemalatha as a result of a very successful experiment done during the previous four years 2000 to 2003 to develop the down syndrome children. We used dancing and music to develop their psycho-motor skills and then started doing various activities to develop their language and other basic skills .
Diri Daru Piyasa (Special Childrens Unit of Miranda Hemalatha Kala Ashramaya) established at KINDELPITIYA (between Kesbewa and Bandaragama Sri Lanka) have already started job oriented vocational training institute as we hope to develop the special children for some kind of a vocation so that they could also be independent as the other citizens. In this regard we have been successful in our experiment and as a result two girls are now teaching at Ladies College Colombo, Lyceum International School at Nugegoda where they get paid for their service. We also able to develop skills of a boy to be a tailor, and quite number for various jobs. We have presented children as solo dancers.
At present we have 60 children learning carpentry, tailoring, making door mats, fabric painting and many crafts through which these children could make money for their living. They learn language and maths and develop other skills they need to lead a balanced life. This month we are going to introduce some of these children for hand-loom weaving. They also involve in agriculture studies as a compulsory activity. The boys do cement block making.
We have well qualified six permanent teachers and four part time teachers. The institute starts at 8.30am. and go on till 4.00pm. The children are provided with break fast, lunch and evening tea free of charge. All educational equipment and resources too are provided by the organization.
We started this institute with bear minimum of facilities in 2013 at our own permenent place at kindelpitiya. Today we have been able to develop the Institute with three class rooms, hostel with 8 single rooms with attach wash rooms, guard room, admin block, shrine room, carpentry room, and an open air theatre. We are in the process of building a cabana and another class room. We have some of the audio visual aids and sewing machines and also carpentry tools..
We have been able to develop the skills of our children to a level to participate in many dance music and art competitions at which they were able to receive many awards winning 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. Also they have done very well in sports winning awards. They too have been participating in international seminars held in Sri Lanka as dancers. Very often these children participate in many other programmes organized by the hospitals, universities, and other private organisations. Last year and this year already they have participated in many such programmes. Also they perform with the veteran artists in fund raising programmes for our own institute. Recently such dance performance was held on the 15th July 2017 at the Buddhist cultural centre theatre in Colombo with veteran dancers and the Sri Lankan dance group in Oman.
We provide all these facilities free of charge to make our majority Downs and few Autism and also few CP children to make their lives as successful grown up citizens. Our main effort is to serve the really needy children of mother Lanka though they are born to lower economic strata.
Along with this project we have another activity to help the depressed mothers of these children. They visit us often to do some tailoring, mat making etc. and they are also been treated by the group of doctors from the base hospital Panadura who visit for medical check up for children once a month. The free treatment and medicine provided by these doctors which helps to keep their health hazards under control are greatly appreciated.
We are also grateful to the volunteers from all over the world who work in our institute. The young under graduates from India, Pakistan, Maldives, Fiji ,Canada, Australia, come through AIESEC organization at the Colombo University and Youth Services Ministry, work full time at the Institute. The contributions of these volunteers during their stay has helped to enhance our efforts in skill development of these children.
Our future expectations
The whole project of Diri Daru Piyasa (special children unit of MHKA) is been administered and organized by a board of directors and a membership not more than 100. Every month the board of directors meet to reveal the progress and once a year the board is re elected.
The financial assistance to continue this meritorious deed is been born by the well-wishers and the donors. We greatly appreciate their generosity without which we would not have been able to make this venture a successes.
In our first phase of the project we still need to complete the following:
- The upper floor of the hostel and the other hostel for the boys.
- The kitchen and the dining hall (yet we have a temporary building with bare minimum of resources)
- A permanent building for the carpentry work shop.
- Two more class rooms.
- The teachers payment and the maintenance of the resources.
We need assistance to do much more for these needy children. Do please stretch your strong hands to strengthen the feeble hands of our kids in need.
A dance to make a difference
She danced and danced and held the audience spellbound throughout the evening with her poise and vitality on stage. Ten-year-old Danangi Fernando, a student of Kala Guru Miranda Hemalatha indeed won many hearts with her performance at the Elphinstone Theatre on September 27. Danangi’s show was special for two reasons- because she was dancing to raise funds for the building of Diri Daru Piyasa, a special unit for children with Down’s Syndrome by the Miranda Hemalatha Kala Ashramaya and because she herself is a special child.Veteran teacher Miranda Hemalatha took the stage to explain how there was a great need for a place where the special talents of differently abled children could be nurtured. A plot of land for the building of the Diri Daru Piyasa, where children could be taught dancing and music and other vocational skills has already been donated by a well-wisher at Kidelpitiya and it is hoped the funds for the construction could be raised to help special children from not so affluent families develop their talents and integrate with society, she said appealing for well-wishers to contribute their mite to this worthy cause.Mohanlal Grero, Managing Director Lyceum International School, Nugegoda where Danangi was the first student to be enrolled in their special needs section also spoke.
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