Sri Lanka Prime Minister Commends Partnership with Salvation Army

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister spoke positively about his government’s partnership with one of the world’s most enduring institutions at a ceremony marking the opening of a major housing project in tsunami-struck Sri Lanka.

The Honorable Davinda Rajapakshe, who was welcomed Tuesday by the Salvation Army’s Dehiwala Girl’s Hom Hevasi Band, officially unveiled the foundation stone for the project to house the hundreds of families around Galagoda Wattha in the Galle area of Sri Lanka. After the unveiling, the prime minister reminded his listeners that the tsunami did not pick and choose its victims. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians were all in the path of destruction.

In speaking of the Salvation Army, Rajapakshe stated that now the government has an opportunity to work with a Christian organization that wants to help Sri Lanka rebuild its communities.

For many, this may be difficult to accept, Rajapakshe admitted. Of Sri Lanka’s population of 20 million people, 70 percent are Buddhist, 15 percent are Hindu, 8 percent are Christian, and 7 percent are Muslim. However, the prime minister asked that people of all faiths open their hearts and receive what the Salvation Army has to offer.

Colonel Roy Frans, leader of The Salvation Army in Sri Lanka, appreciated Rajapakshe's statements. “The real benefit of the prime minister’s speech was that it helped convince people that The Salvation Army is not an organization that will unethically attempt to convert them to Christianity by providing them with a house,” Frans said. “We don’t want to inhibit other religions freely practicing their faith. We hope to show that The Salvation Army cares for all people and will work hard to meet all practical needs.”

According to the Salvation Army, final negotiations with the government are now almost complete and construction work, in partnership with the affected families will start soon. Over the next six to nine months 1,000 families will relocate to newly-built homes at Galagoda Wattha on what is currently a plantation. Meanwhile, the Salvation Army will continue to work alongside them, ensuring that they have the best opportunities for finding a sustainable and enjoyable life in their new community.

As stated by Captain Ted Horwood, leader of the Salvation Army’s International Emergency Services team, “This event another demonstration of God's grace. We have once again seen his hand through our service to the people of Sri Lanka.”

Earlier this week, the Salvation Army was named by Global strategy and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton as one of the world’s 10 most enduring institutions—along with General Electric, Sony, the Olympic Games, The Rolling Stones and the American Constitution.

The Salvation Army was particularly noted for its success in respect of culture and values.