Niroshan Kahawatte, new President of Sri Lanka America-Association | Sunday Observer

Niroshan Kahawatte, new President of Sri Lanka America-Association

7 May, 2023
Founder President of the Sri Lanka-America Association of Southern California Jaym Rutnam welcomes the Association’s new president Niroshan Kahawatte
Founder President of the Sri Lanka-America Association of Southern California Jaym Rutnam welcomes the Association’s new president Niroshan Kahawatte

Niroshan Kahawatte took oaths as the President for the 5oth Golden Anniversary of the Sri Lanka-America Association of Southern California at a ceremony in Los Angeles attended by the clergy, the past presidents including Jayam Rutnam, the first President of the Association, the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Los Angeles and a host of other dignitaries and members of the outgoing President and Committee members as well as the incoming committee members.

Kahawatte told the gathering that the Association has functioned for fifty years with the aim of benefitting the Sri Lankan community in social and cultural activities. While continuing the good work that has been done throughout that period, his team aims to broaden its activities to assist the community in other areas where it may be effective.

He said his team proposes to initiate a program to assist new arrivals from Sri Lanka. This proposal encompasses basic needs such as accommodation, guidance for obtaining documents such as a driver’s licence, opening a bank account, setting up of a job bank to give access to everyone to jobs, for instance, in the City Departments and Agencies. “I have already received encouraging support from sources that operate such activities on behalf of the city of Los Angeles,” Kahawatte said.

Help on offer

He said his team also plans to begin a program to assist those who wish to start a business by helping with registration, insurance, and other organisational procedures and also helping to make contacts with other business entities.

He said there is a need in the community for advice on medical issues, and he has proposed to the Sri Lanka Medical Association to assist in initiating a program where Sri Lankans could obtain emergency advice and guidance on medical issues by phone. That, he said, should include obtaining second opinions, obtaining health insurance, and advice on health-related professions and projects.

Kahawatte said that many do not carry sufficient medical coverage. “We have had discussions with Covered California, which is willing to set up a plan for our community for low-cost coverage for medium-income families and a low-cost life insurance program for those who otherwise find it challenging to deal with end-of-life issues.

He also proposed to contact all other associations in the United States and abroad and initiate joint projects and an annual gathering to plan such projects.


We have built a team of 25 to carry out the above task, which will be divided among them, and they are already aware of which areas they will be managing. But Kahawatte said that he needs everyone’s cooperation and assistance to realise these plans and called for the support of all community members to make a difference in the community members.

He said, “Our team aims to operate the Association on a non-political basis and also on an inclusive basis where all Sri Lankans are welcomed without any ethnic, religious, or language barriers being reasons for the exclusion of anyone.

Kahawatte, a former primetime newscaster at Rupavahini, worked for BBC and the U.N. media services. On arrival in the United States, he briefly worked for the Sri Lanka Foundation with responsibilities for media matters and then began a journey on entrepreneurship.

Having started a line of clothing and jewellery with Amazon, he began a new line of tea, and his Itrix tea eventually climbed to the top of the Amazon tea portal. He then turned to the cruise line industry and secured the Niro Cruise Line agency. Niro Cruise Line agency too began to swim upwards to be one of the best Sri Lankan travel services and profitable. But with his media background, that was not the end he anticipated, and soon he built a film studio where movies, documentaries, and videos are shot.

The writer is former Deputy Director-General, United Nations.