Future forward! | Daily News


Future forward!

Among young people are potential philosophers, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, craftsmen and women – people who will create, who will constitute, who will continue the culturally rich and unique traditions of one’s own country and region. Therefore, there is a need identify and support social entrepreneurs and young changemakers with innovative solutions for youth employment.

One of the most effective integrated forms for improving young innovative minds is through taking part in international competitions. They provide spaces to brainstorm, work, collaborate and reflect. They are also safe spaces for a diverse range of young people who need a hand to hold in their journey.

Kaohsiung International Invention and Design EXPO (KIDE), an international invention exhibition combining the elements of “Invention”, “Design” and “International Conference”, was held from December 6 to 8 in Taiwan. The event saw participants from around 30 countries displaying their innovations on a global platform. Mihindi Minupama Bandara of Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Colombo, was a part of the 12 member group who flew to Taiwan for the event. She presented two innovations: an environment friendly mosquito repellent organic liquid and an ayurvedic cream for bone fractures and muscular pain for the competition and managed not only to bag a Gold medal and a Silver medal but she also clinched the International Youngest Inventor award from the school level category.

Innovations are not alien to the young lass. She had previously won accolades for a coriander-ginger toffee she had developed for the DESAFIO 2018 inner school inventions competition. She was a member of the school’s Young Inventor’s Club by then and had been taken under the wing of the teacher-in-charge Poorni Thillakeratne.

“I have seen how difficult it was for my parents to make my younger brother drink the traditional home remedy koththamalli (a flavoured tea beverage made using coriander and ginger) to cure his common cold. I soon realized that if this beverage can be made in a form of a toffee, then he would have no problem swallowing the medication. I related my idea to my father and he too helped me to make my idea a reality,” Mihindi explained.

Her innovation won her a merit award at the competition. Later she also won a Bronze medal at the Sahasak Nimawam 2018 national inventor’s competition.

Elaborating on how she was inspired to develop the environment friendly mosquito repellent organic liquid, Mihindi said that nearly 700 million people become victims of mosquito-borne illnesses annually which results in over one million deaths.

“People try to avoid this by using vaporizers, sprays and mosquito repellent mats. These create many side effects. Once I too developed a headache after a vaporizer had been used in our home. I decided to find a solution to this problem using organic materials,” she said.

She experimented and came up with a solution using extracts from Lemon Grass, Cinnamon, Neem, Citronella, Ocimum tenuiflorum and Gliricidia. She noted that the biggest challenge she faced in developing these products was in finding the necessary ingredients.

“My parents are into using home remedies when they are faced with certain issues so I have gleaned knowledge about herbs through such experiences. My paternal uncle, Yohan Buddhika Jayawardena, too is into ayurveda so I was able to seek his help in developing my products,” Mihindi said adding that the repellent can be used effectively for a month.

She notes that the ayurvedic practice of using herbs for fracture repair inspired her to develop the ayurvedic cream for bone fractures and muscular pain.

“Since the herbal mixture consists of fibers, only a certain amount is absorbed into the body. I wanted to get rid of these and use the goodness of the herbs alone to develop a product which will be absorbed into the body much more quickly,” she said.

Reflecting on the wonders she witnessed at KIDE Mihindi said that she admires an equipment which manages to gather fragments of broken glass together, developed by a student from Hong Kong.

“That was an amazing product. I personally did not believe that my products would succeed on such a grand scale. I was elated to learnt that not only did it clinch medals for both products but also won the trophy too,” she enthused adding that there are many people who are behind her success.

Nimashi Fernando trained her in English while Nayani Srimali taught her Chinese, both which aided her in communicating with the jury. She is also grateful to Devi Balika Vidyalaya Principal W D P K Samarasinghe for being a pillar of strength to her. A big thank you goes to her teacher-in- charge Poorni Thillakeratne, Sri Lanka Inventors Commission Commissioner Prof. Rangika Halwatura, past Devian Chitra Botheju, her parents, relations, Dr Arawawala and the ITN staff and loved ones for all their help.

Mihindi’s father, Sujeewa Bandara, is a Probation Officer. Her mother, Kumudumala Dissanayake, is a Biology graduate. She has a bother named Minuka Anupama Bandara.

Apart from developing innovations Mihindi is also a gifted handball player, swimmer, table tennis player, basketball player and badminton player. She is also into photography.

The patent licenses are pending for all three of Mihindi’s innovations.

“Think hard, experiment and come up with your own unique product. Do not hesitate to explore you creativity,” is her message to budding young innovators.

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