A beacon of hope for 75 years in Sri Lanka

Posted on Monday, February 13th, 2012


13/02/2012 – Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society today celebrated its 75th year of service to humanity in Colombo Sri Lanka.

In the backdrop of a malaria outbreak in 1935 the need for a volunteer based organization to aid in natural and manmade disasters were on the rife. Since the then British Government failed to curtail the epidemic steps were taken to mobilize the formation of the “Ceylon Central Council Branch of the British Red Cross Society”.

This newly born volunteer organization was hard at work by providing services that were costly at that time for no fee.

In 1943, a large sum of money was sent to Bengal in assistance of the people affected by famine. These noble courses brought all and every leaders in Ceylon irrespective of other challenges to re-establish Sri Lanka as a sovereign state.

Sri Lanka Red Cross Society was born on the shoulders of noble volunteers. With volunteer involvement a Hospital Supply Association was formed. System of First Aid Post was organized.  Colombo division of volunteers worked at the General Hospital during a strike of hospital attendants. A hospital library service was run at the General hospital, Colombo.

After the gaining independence The Ceylon Central Council branch of British Red Cross Society was dissolved on 31st march 1949.  The very next day on 1st April 1949 the Ceylon Red Cross Society was formed. On 27th November 1951 by a Royal Decree (Charter) of his Majesty King George VI of England the Ceylon Red Cross Society was incorporated in to the constitution.

In 1952 at the recommendation of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), the League of Red Cross (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies- IFRC) recognized the “Ceylon Red Cross” as the National Society of Ceylon at its 22nd Session of the Board of Governors meeting at Toronto Canada.

Blood donor recruitment service inaugurated in 1956 by us became the first initiative for a blood bank in Sri Lanka.

Floods in 1957 proved to be a challenge for us, however our volunteers came through excelling in delivering aid to the most vulnerable.

Collection Centers were opened at the headquarters in Colombo to receive relief supplies of food, clothing, drugs, and other relief material, which then were sent to help the victims of the flood. Not only did we manage to provide relief for people affected in Ceylon but also managed to deliver aid to victims of the flood in India.

In 1969 we raised fund nationally and donated relief items to flood and earthquake affected Burma, (now Myanmar) India, Pakistan, and Iran.

In 1972 a new constitution passed by the government of Ceylon to change the country’s name to Sri Lanka. As a result the Ceylon Red Cross Society re-named as the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society.