This is a picture I drew with only a pencil in 1995, when I was 23. She was my dream girl but it happened to be an unreciprocated love. No hard feelings. We just remained friends.
This is a picture I drew with only a pencil in 1995, when I was 23. She was my dream girl but it happened to be an unreciprocated love. No hard feelings. We just remained friends.
Having learnt from my good friend Mr. Daya Wijesinghe from Kandana, that there is a small rural mountainous hamlet in Badulla district, which runs a very successful program of a whole village getting together to do physical exercises and karate practices, I decided to go and see for myself this village. It was night when I reached the village of Koradekumbura. I stayed at the house of Mr. Jayaweera Jayasundara, the founder of the karate program. I was woken up by Jayaweera early in the morning of May 17, 2017. I had asked him to do so to see how his “students” practice physical exercises in the early hours of the day in the village playground. Mr. Jayaweera arranged a three wheeler for me and I felt uncomfortable, as to why I could not walk to the venue, while all others in the village just walked, jogged or ran to the playground. I suppose he wanted his guest to be comfortable.
It was about 5.20 am when we reached the village playground; already there were more than 50 children, adults and seniors assembled in the playground. They had already started doing physical exercises. There were more adults and seniors than the young. I was surprised to see the range of ages of the villagers who came for the karate and physical exercises. Kids as young as 5 to seniors as old as 80+!!!
The practice had begun last year and it gathers momentum every day. All of the 82 students in Medainna Primary School in Koradekumbura start karate practices from 6.30 am to 7.00 am. Altogether, around 130 children and 100 adults do both physical exercises at dawn and karate practices in the evenings. Around 25 young girls and women do stick fighting. With such numbers in a small village like this, it may be the village with fittest people in Sri Lanka. One could observe at the very first instance that the inhabitants of this village are all in a very fit physical state.
The program and the structure Mr. Jayaweera has formed seem very strong that even without his presence, the program will continue. He formed a Parents Association to run the project. Each member contributes 200/- LKR per month towards the expenses for attending tournaments etc. But the Founder of the Program Mr. Jayaweera does all his training totally free of charge. Though money can be counterproductive for a genuine initiative like this, I am still of the view that Mr. Jayaweera’s great service has to be recognized and rewarded in some way. Aligning a whole village for karate practice and physical exercise is no easy task anywhere in the world.
Mr. Jayaweera wanted to have a building to carry out the karate practices during rainy days, which is a regular occurrence in this mountainous village. Having understood the importance of the program by being an active member of the trainees, one of the members of the sports program and also the treasurer of the Parents Association Mr. B. N. P. Somarathna donated a quarter acres of his land situated in a strategic location in the village. Mr. Somarathna also works as Mr. Jayaweera’s deputy in the sports program in the latter’s absence. Their dream is to build a 90×35 feet building (auditorium), to house the training program. The estimated cost is around 3.5 million LKR. I feel it is your duty to help complete this project and make this a good example for the rest of the country that usually waits for the government to do everything.
Non communicable diseases such as; cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory problems, diabetes and cancer are the main problems in Sri Lanka, claiming 103,500 lives each year. (http://www.searo.who.int/srilanka/areas/noncommunicable_diseases/en/) It was this reason that Mr. Jayaweera, being a retired Physical Health Instructor, was instrumental in starting the sports program.
Should not both the State and Private Sector take this physically fit village as an example and replicate it across all over Sri Lanka?
If the current Minister of Sports, Hon. Dayasiri Jayasekara is as interested as he shows in physical fitness of the people, I suggest that he visit this village in person and spend a day and then take this golden example and replicate it throughout the island by using Mr. Jayaweera as the national consultant to the program. Appointing an official from an air-conditioned office from Colombo will not be as effective as Mr. Jayaweera, who is a son of the soil.
Many adults in Sri Lanka are against the use of social media, especially Facebook, as they see only the negative sides of it. Public school principals and teachers are the most vociferous among them. But today I am going to talk about a public school principal who does a yeoman service for the students and the community in Mahawilachchiya.
He is none other than Mr. Kularathna Rajapaksha, a social servant in Mahawilachchiya. He started his career as a science teacher since he was still a high school boy. I was one of his students while I was in Grade 11. We had no science teachers during that time as most of the teachers in my alma mater, Thakshila Public School in the village got transferred to their villages. So, we had no science teachers to prepare us for the Ordinary Level (OL) exam which is held to identify which students can go for high schools. Kularathna came to our rescue by teaching us every weekend. The best thing about his teaching was that he had this special talent to teach most complicated areas in science like physics and chemistry in a very interesting way. Usually experienced and trained regular science teachers dreaded to teach those parts in science and only taught biology parts of the subject while this schoolboy-teacher showed us how easy those subject areas were. Thanks to him, a lot of students in our classes got good results for Ordinary Level (OL) national level exams.
Kularathna is 50 now and recently was promoted to the post of principal in Seevali Primary School in Mahawilachchiya. I am not too sure if the promotion as a principal will hamper his talents as a teacher. Too much administrative work has affected many good teachers.
Kularathna started his Facebook account in 2014, much later than I did but mastered the craft in no time. I can still remember his first Facebook post which he posted about the need of library books for Thakshila Public School where he then taught. The post brought a lot of donors donating books to the school and today the school library boasts of having 4,000 odd books. He did not stop there and constructed a separate building to store and read the books with the help of his donors and the members of the Civil Defense Force who volunteered with their labor.
Kularathna spends about 3-4 hours with Facebook on a daily basis. He does all his work through his old desktop computer, recently acquired laptop and the smart phone while taveling. He spends around 3,000 LKR (20 USD) monthly with his own funding. But he works for the others in the village. This is a good example for most of the ICT teaches in the country who do not do much with government sponsored 24X7 internet facilities at their computer labs with 30-40 PCs connected to internet.
Kularathna does not stop his duty by just donating money or resources. He ensures that the money and the resources he collects and disseminates are properly used. He visits the people whom he helps and monitors if the money is spent on the intended purposes. He has to spend a lot for traveling too. (I think it is the high time his donors work on reimbursing his internet, phone and fuel expenses. Otherwise he will end up broke just like I did.)
Kularathna’s biggest achievements are building a school library, building houses for those who cannot afford them, providing scholarships for the needy students, and providing RO water filters to the village. He does all these through the funds donated by both local and overseas Sri Lankans whom he befriends through Facebook. He has won the trust and the respect from those donors as he spends the money frugally and monitors the result of these interventions.
When asked how the teenagers and the youth should use Facebook, his answer was “Use Facebook in such a way you educate you and work for the social good.” This is easier said than done though. Teenagers and the youth tend to use Facebook mostly for time and money consuming fun and have romantic relationships.
Kularathna also says that the other teachers who use Facebook should use it in such a way that they improve their knowledge by subscribing to educational Facebook feeds and also changing the negative attitudes towards the social media.
Ongoing drought in and around Mahawilachchiya disturbs the villagers’ lives as they either do not have or cannot afford drinking water. Kularathna shared this with his Facebook contacts and they promptly collected funds and sent to Kularathna so that he could hire a small tractor with a plastic barrel and distribute drinking water totally free of charge to the villagers. Such is the trust he has gained from his donors.
When asked what were his biggest challenges with FB and his community work, his answer was, “Not yet.” That is the spirit.
Isn’t it ironic that within 24 hours of me deciding to travel in Kalinga (present day Odissa) extensively for a month on a motorbike in November this year that this article http://scroll.in/article/814562/are-the-sinhalese-people-descendants-of-bengali-and-odiya-sea-merchants appeared out of the blue? I have a great friend from Kalinga and he will find me a bike for my tour. He is Prakash Nayak and the only reason for me to be a friends with him , was that we both share similar surnames. Me, Wanni Nayaka and him, Praksh Nayak. He says there are a lot of Nayakas in Kalinga.
I am not a historian nor a social anthropologist. But ever since I heard this story of us, the Sinhalese, are descendants of a lion and a princess (see more here http://mahavamsa.org/2008/05/princess-vanga-sinhabahu/), I was both intrigued and ashamed (to find we are also descendants of incestuous sex between a brother and sister (Sinhabahu and Sinhaseevali) to dig into this within my limited capacity. I won’t be able to compose a scholarly work after my travel but at least I will chronicle what I see and hear on a daily updating my blog throughout the tour. This will be my fourth trip to India.
I don’t look for luxuries during my trip as I can digest anything edible and sleep even under a tree for that matter. I am quite used to rough roads as I keep riding my bike almost anywhere in Sri Lanka without much hassle. So, hardships will not dampen my spirits at all. Traveling with Meer Ali from India throughout Sri Lanka for 5 consecutive days was fun and hope I can find someone like that who can also sing Bollywood songs with me. Well, since I was an 11 year old boy, I could sing more than 500 Hindi songs. So I would love to add some more to the list.
Back to the incest story, the legend is that no royal family in Sinhapur, Kalinga was happy to let their daughter or son to marry a lion’s son or the daughter and the only option the lion’s son and daughter had was to marry each other and produce a notorious prince called Wijaya who had to end up in Sri Lanka and my friends, the rest, is both history and legend. (The more sensible take in this lion’s story would be to take the lion as a leader of a lion tribe or a very strong and powerful and unruly man I guess.)
I will not have the luxury of taking a high quality still or video camera for this tour and would appreciate if someone can lend me one. If something happens to it, I will buy a brand new one of the same make and model. Since I have to pay for airfare and other sundry expenses, the last thing I can afford is a professional camera.
I am a motorbike lover. I like to ride long distances. The longest distance I have ridden is from Mahawilachchiya to Kahathuduwa, Piliyandala via Colombo. I have ridden between Colombo and Mahawilachchiya many a time. Road is very good via Puttalam and it is fun to speed up along the road. The other long trip I made was to Gomarankadawala, Trincomalee with my nephew and it was unforgettable because we were drenched in the torrential rain on our way back. Most exciting tour was the one I went to Talawakele from Badulla with my newly married wife in 2006. My most recent long trip was to Padavi – Sri Pura from Anuradhapura for a meeting. I often ride to Kanagarayankulam in Vavunia too. The bike trip I went to Welioya with the journalist Gamini AKmeemana was memorable because he rode a very old Honda CB 200 (6 Sri 7517) and I rode a brand new Bajaj Pulsar 180 and still Gamini was way ahead of me with his old machine. I think more than the bike model, he knows right techniques in bike riding. That night we stayed in a hut in a small farm just below the Padaviya wewa with a farmer friend of Gamini. That was in 2005. It was fun riding with Gamini but I never got a second chance with him.
Read below Rudyard Kipling‘s great poem “If.” This is the only thing that keeps me going during worst times I pass. If not for this, I would have given up long time ago.
You can listen to the audio version of this poem if you click this link. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175772
If— BY RUDYARD KIPLING
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Zachary Grenzowski – The Canadian Volunteer at Horizon Lanka Foundation.
Meet Tanuri Thiseka Dissanayaka. When she was just 3 months old she was diagnosed with thalassemia major, a potentially life-threatening illness. Thalassemia major causes large numbers of red blood cells to be destroyed, leading to liver and heart problems. Due to her condition, each month Tanuri must undergo a complete blood transfusion. In addition, every night she must endure a painful injection in her stomach as part of her treatment. These measures only stave off advancement of the disease and offer no long term solution.
Her father has dedicated his life to protecting Sri Lanka by serving in the Sri Lankan Special Task Force. From 1995 until 2013 (17 ½) he courageously risked his life fighting against the separatist terrorists to protect innocent civilians and the country he loves. He is now retired and unfortunately he is still fighting, only now it is to keep his daughter alive. Sadly, he is running out of resources to continue the fight and the situation is looking bleaker by the day.
Tanuri is an intelligent girl and realizes the direction her future could go if the condition goes untreated. When asked where she plans to attend middle school she replied, “I don’t know because I don’t know what will happen to me.” Tanuri is courageous and despite her difficult situation continues to smile and remain positive.
Fortunately, there is a solution. Tanuri has a two year old sister that is perfect match for a bone marrow transplant. With your support, she can afford the life saving operation and live out her dream of becoming a doctor. Why does she want to be a doctor? Tannuri is aware of her condition and she wants to improve the lives of those living with Thalassemia. Won’t you help this bright young girl live out her dream?
P.S. From Nanda Wanninayaka
I have never asked funding for my personal needs. But now I have to. This little girl, Tanuri is my cousin brother’s daughter. She needs a bone marrow transplant surgery to save her life from thalassemia. With your generous donations, we have been able to raise 3,500,000 LKR (23,690 USD) out of 4,200,000 LKR (28,428 USD) needed for the surgery. Her surgery is scheduled to be done on July 02, 2016, exactly a month away from today. We need to raise another 700,000 LKR (4,738 USD) to pay for the private hospital as this surgery is not done in any government hospitals in Sri Lanka. Please help save little Tanuri.
Any donations made are greatly appreciated by Tanuri and her family.
Father – M. Chandana Samarasingha Dissanayaka : Mobile :- 0094-718006141 Home 0094-253858554
Mother – Nilmini Charika Illangasingha Mobile: – 009471-8442943 Home 0094-253858554
Patient: Tanuri Thiseka Dissanayaka, Ambagahawewa, Nochchiyagama, Anuradapura, Sri Lanka
Bank Account Name: M. C. S. Dissanayaka (Father)
Bank Account Number: 1021 5496 7095
Bank: Sampath Bank
Swift Code – BSAMLKLX
Bank Code – 7278
Branch: Anuradhapura Super Branch
Branch Manager: Mr. H M R D Gunawardane (Ravindra)
Fax: +94 25 2235 028
Phone: 0094 25 2235 026/7, 0094 25 2235 059
Address: No.268, Maithripala Senanayake Mawatha, Anuradhapura.
Despite all the conspiracy theories against her, I am a great admirer of Malala Yousafzai, world’s youngest ever Nobel laureate from one of our neighboring countries, Pakistan. Like most of the other non-Pakistanis, I too heard about her after being shot by the Talibans on October 9, 2012. I followed news casts after that about her deteriorating health and near death experiences. Just like the rest of you, I too was shocked as to how on earth a man can shoot such an innocent and beautiful butterfly like Malala (or any other child for that matter.) I was relieved once I heard the news that she would survive.
Ever since I followed news about her. After her book “I am Malala” was published, I immediately downloaded the audio version of the book and listened to it zillion times. I still do. I also downloaded the e-book version and read that too. As if it was not enough, I also bought the printed book and read that too. Read my blog post about Malala’s autobiography “I am Malala” in here.
I also recommended the book I am Malala to the university undergraduates who learned English and English literature from me and they enjoyed discussing and reading it a lot. I made it the compulsory book to read and discuss with the English and English literature class I am doing for English teachers and young graduates who learn from me at Horizon Lanka. She is a big inspiration to them as well.
Recently, I found a good picture of Malala with her famous slogan “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world” in the background. I set the image as the wallpaper of my laptop. Not only that, I set it as the wallpaper in my mobile phone also. So, the Horizon Lanka students asked who that cute girl was. I said she is Malala. Then my students asked the same question the Taliban terrorist asked Malala seconds before shooting her, “Who is Malala?”
Then I opened up the Wikipedia page about her and some of the images taken while she was wounded and her speeches, interviews, etc. in YouTube and briefed about her life and the great risks she took in fighting for the right for girls’ education. My students were greatly inspired and wanted to set the same image of Malala I used as my wallpaper in the other 10 PCs at Horizon Lanka too. This is how their PCs look like now. I don’t know when they will replace with someone/something else but definitely not any sooner according to their love towards Malala. Now all the girls here want to be Malalas.
Sri Lanka does not have a big issue when it comes to girls’ education. In most of the schools, colleges and universities girls constitute more than the boys even in challenging fields such as technical, engineering, medical, etc. fields. Even Muslim girls here excel in higher education and in professional careers. But we need more Malalas here to promote education among both girls and boys, especially in rural areas where there is less facilities and urge to go for higher education.
For the last three years, I have been writing a post on rambutan season each year consecutively. After reading my posts, two gentlemen from an Indian fruit farm called Homegrown www.homegrown.in visited Sri Lanka and took rambutan fruits and plants to India. They were particularly interested in Malwana rambutan variety. Now they grow Malwana rambutans in their farm in Kerala, India. They personally visited Malwana with me to see rambutan gardens. I too bought two plants two years back and one survived and thriving now. I learnt from my Indian friends that their plants are also growing well.
This time around rambutan harvest has been very good just like the last two years. As a result the price of a single fruit has come down to 5 rupees in Colombo and suburbs and in Kandy as I checked the prices myself. In Malwana, a fruit costs around 3 rupees according to the rambutan sellers in Kalagedihena along the Colombo – Kandy road. Rambutan prices in Anuradhapura, my hometown, is little expensive. They sell 15 fruits for 100 rupees. But fresh fruits are available in Anuradhapura unlike in the past.
It was reported this year that a politician, a deputy minister from the previous government took a cut from the small scale rambutan sellers in Gampaha district, his electorate, by force. After his party was defeated at the presidential election in early January this year, rambutan sellers lodged a complaint against the former deputy minister. He was so corrupt that his own party rejected his nomination to contest to the parliamentary election scheduled to be held in August this year along with some other former MPs who have corruption and drug trafficking allegations. This is a good move. It is sickening to hear that a person in the capacity of a deputy minister collecting commissions from the poor rambutan sellers. Imagine what he must have taken from the mega projects in his electorate and in the capacity of a deputy minister in his ministry.
OK. Back to rambutans. According to the sellers, the season will last around three more weeks and this is the peak of the season. Prices will fluctuate according to availability of the fruits in coming weeks. So, if you want to visit Sri Lanka to taste rambutans, this is the high time you visited. Do not regret and postpone your visit. If you visit Sri Lanka these days, you will see rambutans from the airport road itself to almost all parts of Sri Lanka. Mohammad, an experienced young driver from Colombo who can speak decent English has been our chauffer during our visits to Malwana and you too can contact him on 071-2669696 and arrange a trip to Malwana rambutan gardens. He knows the right places and people. Just let him know in advance. His fares are reasonable as well.
Though there are two colors of rambutans as red and yellow, red variety is the most sought after by the customers though the tastewise there is no big difference. Malwana variety is the most popular over other types that come from adjoining areas of Malwana.
These are some useful links to websites about rambutans. Apparently, there is a dedicated site called www.rambutan.com with a lot of information and lovely pictures. Though the site design is not very professional, it has a lot of necessary information.
Nihal Ekanayaka is 54-year-old farmer from Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura. He was a hard working farmer and served his family of 5 daughters by cultivating his paddy land for all these long years. He earned a name as a fierce volleyball dasher when he was young. All his daughters are also very talented in sports. Three of them are married now.
Few years ago he had some severe back pains and when contacted a doctor, he was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) which is prevalent in the North Central Province. Now he is confined to his house with tubes inserted into his body and has to go to Anuradhapura hospital which is 45 kilometers away every four days to perform dialysis on his kidneys. If he misses this once, that would be the end of him.
If there is a donor who has B+ or AB blood types who is willing to donate one kidney for him, he will survive. Otherwise he will have to expect a bitter end to his life. If any of you think are willing to help him, please contact him on 025-5715548. My blood type is B+ but I cannot donate a kidney as I am a diabetic. Otherwise I would have given it to him without a second thought.