Welfare Tours 2011

MALAYSIA & SRI LANKA 30 January – 5 February 2011
Secretary General

This visit to Malaysia was a little unusual in that it gave the Secretary General the opportunity to see a newly formed organisation, the Malaysian Ex-British Army Association (MEBAA), in operation. This organisation, under the leadership of their President, Mr Che Onn Neamat, has undertaken the responsibility to process and carry out all of the League’s welfare work. This new organisation is incredibly active and in 15 months has improved the lives of 95 veterans and widows with welfare grants and registered a further 700 through their campaign called ‘Search and Rescue’. This is a real success story.
In Sri Lanka, SLESA’s Poppy sale campaign is commendable and very successful, contributing significant amounts in direct welfare grants to war veterans and general support to the Bolagala Home. Dreadful flooding on the Eastern side of the country (25 killed and 1 million displaced) affected 6 of our veterans who RCEL were able to assist with immediate grants. The Bolagala Home is a wonderful facility and provides accommodation for our war veterans. However, there is a certain amount of refurbishment required which has now been financially supported by RCEL.

TANZANIA 15-17 November 2011
Secretary General

The visit to Tanzania was a success, particularly with the reassurance that Major Ian Sharp is now co-ordinating all RCEL welfare activity in the country. He has been supported by the Tanzanian Permanent Secretary, Mr Job Masima, who has been most helpful. There are approximately 750 eligible veterans. Nine of these veterans who received welfare grants during the year were visited in Dar es Salaam and they were extremely appreciative of the support. Two of these veterans were given further emergency welfare grants for dental work and an eye operation.  

Controller Welfare

The Belize Ex-Services League (BEL) have identified 54 eligible veterans and widows. Of these, 41 are in need and receive financial support. The veterans served with the British Honduras Battalion (BHB) or the Foresters Battalion (FB). The Foresters served in Scotland and a contingent of the BHB formed part of the Caribbean Regiment and served in Italy and Egypt during WW2.

There are 53 eligible veterans registered with the Cayman Islands Veterans Association (CIVA). CIVA are well funded and provide a variety of superb services to the veterans, including, medical care, property repairs, wheelchairs, eye tests, home care, supermarket voucher scheme and funeral expenses, to name a few!

The Jamaica Legion currently have 345 registered and eligible veterans of whom 60 have received grants during the course of the year. The Curphey Home provides care and accommodation to 15 residents, 6 of these are ex RAF and one lady is ex ATS. The RAFBF and RCL provide significant financial support to maintain the Home. RCEL facilitated an additional project grant from the RAFBF for a new solar water heating system.

Controller Finance

The Veterans Administration of Ghana (VAG) is well organised and a forward thinking organisation with strong support from the Government. There are approximately 1,000 eligible pre-independence veterans. Twenty one of these veterans are accommodated in the Legion Village in Amasaman; the cost is covered by VAG. There are a further two larger Legion villages in the Kumasi area that accommodate veterans and their dependents. The villages operate ‘self help’ projects to provide crops and farm animals for consumption and selling for profit. In 2011 RCEL provided a £1,000 emergency welfare grant and £1,500 for a fresh water project at the Amasaman Village.

The Nigerian Legion (NL) has over 7,000 eligible and registered veterans. Of these, 1,105 are being assisted financially by the NL. The majority of the Nigerian veterans fought with the 81st and 82nd (West African) divisions and a recent survey identified over 250 who were awarded the Burma Star. Income for the NL has reduced in recent years and the RCEL was requested to provide an emergency welfare grant of £2,000 to assist 100 of the most needy Veterans.

There are over 950 pre-independence eligible veterans that are registered with the Sierra Leone Ex-Serviceman’s Association (SLESA). The majority served with the 1st Battalion The Sierra Leone Regiment which was part of the 81st (West African) Division and fought in Burma.

SOMALILAND 4-9 December 2011
Controller Finance

This was an important visit as due to the security situation in Somaliland there had been no RCEL visit for 12 years. The visit was a success, due in the main to the support provided by the British Defence Adviser, Colonel Ronnie Bradford. A new committee has been formed and they are in the process of identifying and recording all surviving eligible veterans. RCEL were able to directly assist 87 sight-impaired veterans with grants provided by Blind Veterans UK (formally St Dunstans). There is every confidence that additional welfare grants will be disbursed through the new committees in 2012.

RCEL - Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League - Registered Charity No. 1174874 - Haig House, 199 Borough High Street, London SE1 1AA, United Kingdom - Telephone +44 (0)20 3207 2413

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