Jeyarajah Family Meets Representatives Nita Lowey and Christopher Shays at Press Conference on
Capitol Hill to discuss “The Women and Children in Crisis and Conflict Protection Act”

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) invites Baby Abilash and Parents to Discuss Post-Tsunami Efforts to
Re-unite Displaced Children with their Families

Baby Abilash visits the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in conversation with Ambassador Subasinghe and the Jeyarajah family

Baby Abilash and his parents, Murugupillai and Junita Jeyarajah, who were brought to New York City in the week of March 2, 2005 by ABC News to appear on the “Good Morning America” program, visited Washington DC on March 9, 2005.

The visit to Washington D.C. was hosted by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in collaboration with Save the Children. Travel and accommodation were provided by Continental Airlines and the Willard -Intercontinental respectively.

While in the city, Baby Abilash and his parents participated in a Press Conference on Capitol Hill to discuss “The Women and Children in Crisis and Conflict Protection Act” introduced by Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT). The Act is designed to safeguard lives of women and children affected by armed conflict, oppression, famine, drought and natural disaster. The legislation is supported by Save the Children, which is based in Rep. Shays District, Connecticut.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) addressing the Press Conference in Capitol Hill. Also in the picture are (L-R) Ambassador Subasinghe,
Mr. Jeyarajah with baby Abilash, Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Sonia Khush of Save the Children

Rep. Lowey, welcoming Baby Abilash and his parents said, “we cannot stop the horrible tragedies like the Tsunami, but we can try to mitigate their effects and provide safety and security for women and children in difficult situations.”

Speaking at the event, Rep. Christopher Shays said, “When I visited Southeast Asia and saw the horrors that the Tsunami left in its wake, it deepened my resolve to help protect people in these awful humanitarian crises. The Jeyarajah family suffered unimaginable pain, but there is hope in their story. This bill seeks to provide hope for other families who might face similar circumstances in the future.”

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) speaking at the Press Conference. Listening on are (L-R) Ambassador Subasinghe
and Mr. Jeyarajah with baby Abilash

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States Devinda R. Subasinghe, who earlier met baby Abilash in New York, expressed his appreciation to Rep. Nita Lowey and Rep.Christopher Shays for their leadership in bringing forward legislation that addresses the horrific situation that families face in emergency situations. Recognizing the efforts of Save the Children following the Tsunami, Ambassador Subasinghe said, “not only do they reunite children with the families in Sri Lanka and Indonesia so tragically impacted by the Tsunami, but they also work to effect policy change to mitigate the affects of these crises on children and families. The smiles of children, like Abilash, have been the beacon that has kept us focused on rebuilding our future.” The Ambassador also thanked Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Joseph Biden (D-DE) for introducing companion legislation in the Senate on March 8, 2005.

Ambassador Subasinghe addressing the Press Conference in Capitol Hill. Also present are (L-R) Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ms. Ameena Mohin, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Sonia Khush of Save the Children

Baby Abilash and his parents met with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in her Washington D.C. office earlier in the day. Senator Landrieu informed Ambassador Subasinghe and Abilash’s parents of her plan to offer an amendment to the tsunami supplemental legislation that would ensure that $100 million goes for specific programs focused on reuniting children with their families and addressing other specific needs of children in crisis and conflict. Senator Landrieu traveled to Sri Lanka with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Ten) in January 2005 for a first-hand assessment of the Tsunami devastation and relief efforts.

Mr. Murugupillai Jeyarajah and Junita Jeyarajah during their meeting with Senator Landrieu said (through interpreter), “while we are thankful for the relief we get and people’s kindness, we earnestly want this relief also to reach other children and affected families in our village (Kalmunai) in Sri Lanka.” Mr. Jeyarajah further mentioned that their current plans are to go back and re-build his livelihood and work harder than before to provide baby Abilash a meaningful life.

Ambassador Subasinghe with Jeyarajah family

At the Embassy of Sri Lanka, baby Abilash, Parents Murugupillai and Junita Jeyarajah and accompanying Divaina journalist, Mr. Janiytha Seneviratne received a warm welcome from Ambassador Subasinghe and Staff of the Mission. The special guests were invited to a traditional “kiribath” (milk-rice) breakfast. During the visit, the Jeyarajah family were interviewed by ABC News 7.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka would like to extend a special appreciation to Mr. Larry Kellner, CEO of Continental Airlines, Mr. Herve Houdre, General Manager, Willard Intercontinental, Ms. Shirin Kooros, Director/ Protocol, Willard Intercontinental, Mr. Armand Thelen, Assistant Manager, Willard Intercontinental, Ms. Carolyn Miles, Chief Operating Officer/Executive Vice President of Save the Children, Ms. Carol Miller, Associate Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy of Save the Children, Mrs. Lisa Sharkey, Senior Producer, Good Morning America Program of ABC News and, all others associated with the visit of baby Abilash to Washington D.C.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

10 March 2005

Home | Sri Lanka-US Relations | Trade | Investment | Travel | Consular | Press Releases |
Statements | Features | Reports & Publications | Archive | Contact I Ideas Line