Walk from Dondra to Jaffna - a heartwarming event
A recent event that underlines the innate good nature of man was the
great walk from Dondra in the South to Jaffna in the North covering a
distance of 670kms to generate funds to build the Paediatrics Cancer
Ward in the Jaffna General Hospital. The walk named Trail, a journey of
27 days was undertaken from July 1 to 27. The Trail was initiated by the
Colours of Courage Trust, a nonprofit organization which from its
inception in 2008 has dedicated itself to provide the infrastructure for
the treatment of cancer in Sri Lanka, a noble task where early detection
and care could save numerous lives.
A noteworthy feature of this walk was that numerous people, rich and
poor, young and old, spontaneously supported the walk which symbolized a
noble gesture providing relief to children in the North who are
afflicted with cancer. Some walked a part of the distance to record
their support for a noble venture. There were others contributing in
cash or kind to raise the necessary funds for the Pediatric Ward.
The brains behind this noble exercise was Sarinda Unambowe, Chief
Executive Officer (CEO) of a leading commercial organization who with
the support of his friend and colleague, Nathan Sivagananathan, also the
CEO of a successful business undertaking and Director of the Colours of
Courage Trust, launched this most worthy project. The willing support
and generosity of many others enabled the vision of Sarinda to be made a
The walk captured the imagination of a vast cross-section of the
people of this country. It yielded Rs 186 million up to early November
2011 but what was worthy of note is that it did not come from a few of
the most affluent but from a large cross-section of the people.
From a Buddhist stand-point, it is significant that a majority of
those who participated in this great effort were Buddhists indicating
their adherence to those qualities emphasized in the Dhamma, namely,
Metta and Karuna or goodwill and compassion towards all living beings
without any discrimination. In this case, these qualities were
generously extended to the Tamil people of Jaffna who have suffered most
from the ravages of three decades of war. This endorses the contention
of our beloved Foreign Minister, the late Lakshman Kadirgamar, who
declared to the world that the Sinhala people and large are not racists.
It is unfortunate that this great event did not receive in adequate
measure the publicity and recognition that it so richly deserve both at
home and abroad. At a time that Sri Lanka is being severely criticized
regarding Tamil civilians killed or wounded by the repulsing of
terrorism, this noble event should have been highlighted to reveal the
overall humane nature of our people.
It was heartwarming to observe the popular support for this great
walk and its objectives from all walks of life. During the walk, it is
reported that a man shirtless, emerged from a mud hut to put a few
rupees to the trail till. Furthermore, schoolchildren from their savings
gave whatever they could for this noble cause. Schoolchildren lined the
streets to clap and wave at the walkers while school bands from numerous
schools performed to encourage the walkers. The bands were also playing
for the children in Jaffna and the North afflicted with cancer and to
provide some entertainment so as to offer momentary relief for the
walkers from their pain and agony.
Well-known cricketers, Mahela Jayawardena former Captain, Tilakaratne
Dilshan present Captain and bowler Dilhara Fernando were among those who
joined this walk, on certain days as support for the walk. Eighteen
walkers covered the entire distance of 679 kms over 27 days without a
break. With swollen and damaged feet, they were encouraged by the
invaluable cause for which they had committed themselves. Sarinda's
father, Stanley Unambocwe, at 79 years walked for 18 days with a short
break in between.
We generally tend to look upon successful business magnates to be
over-conscious of material gains and neglect social responsibilities,
but these pioneers were of a different mould. They not only organized
the walk but many of them walked the entire distance spanning 27 days
and 670kms. Twenty six others achieved this feat with great discomfort
for an outstanding cause.
The government has to be commended for taking decisive action to end
terrorism that reigned in the island for three decades and the
substantial economic development that is taking place today. However,
there has been a sharp deterioration of moral and spiritual values, both
in Sri Lanka and in many other countries, with the rise of the
underworld, abundant violence and serious threats to life and property.
Corruption has become the order of the day. It was earlier confined
mainly to the public sector but now unfortunately it is penetrating the
private sector as well. There is also the abuse of power by those in
authority to the detriment of the welfare of the country and its people.
Some are being harassed because of their views and actions when what is
require is tolerance and patience as advocated in the Dhamma. The
silence of religious leaders, including the Maha Sangha, in this sad
situation is most disturbing.
In sharp contrast, we have the attitude of the King of Thailand in
his dealings with the people.
When the army came to ensue that the Palace was safe and not
adversely affected by the recent major floods in Bangkok his response
was that there should be no special treatment for the Palace, but to
assist the people who are suffering from the deluge. It is said that he
has always wielded power and authority for the welfare of the people.
It is heartening to note that there are dedicated people ready to
initiate projects or good causes and the general public willing to give
a supporting hand when the cause is noble and the sincerity of the
organizers are impeccable.
The recently concluded, walk, the Trail, was above all a triumph for
the innate good nature of man. We salute the organisers and all those
who participated and supported this noble event in whatever way they
could in the true Buddhist spirit of Metta and Karuna - goodwill and
compassion for all living beings without any discrimination. Let this
walk be an inspiration to others to engage selflessly in good deeds of
Global warming, natural disasters, climate change and health
Other ways of reducing GW include less use of paper by encouraging
communication on-line and re-cycling of paper. Re-cycling of garbage and
production of biogas and fertilizer is another example of an environment
friendly venture. Concept of minimalisation should be popularised so as
to reduce the usage of fuel-powered personal items. As demonstrated in
most Western countries and China, cycling should be encouraged by
providing cycling lanes in urban areas. If public transport is improved,
the need for the use of private motor vehicles would be reduced thereby
consuming less fossil fuels. In Colombo, the results of terrible traffic
jams during the rush hours is a good example of environmental pollution
at it's worst, reduction of work-hours and wastage of personal finances.
To be continued