Living his dream... | Daily News

Living his dream...

When the going gets tough the tough get going

He says he is hopelessly romantic and describes himself as passionate, emotional, sensitive and adventurous! Boldness and trying to do what was right were his hallmarks. At a very young age he was very concerned and helpful to others. He would often get into fights and this was because of his conviction to stand up for what was right and defend those who were wronged.

"I was born on October 28, 1979. My home town is Wattala. I have one sister and my mother and father. I come from a legacy left behind by my grandfather Boniface Fernando. He was a very famous businessman in Wattala. In fact he was a business tycoon. He was also a film producer and he had a massive house in Wattala. He was very famous during his era in the 1960's," Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando reminisces his past. Religion was an important part of life, having a catholic upbringing.His mother was Buddhist and his father was Catholic. And in Fernando's words he had the 'best of both worlds.' Holiness was something he revered. And this was further strengthened by a Catholic upbringing at school, and also living near a church no doubt played a part.

He studied at St. Joseph's College right throughout and excelled in the field of sport. He shone in the field of Rugby and played Under 13 to the First 15 and has the distinction of having been a Rugby Colorsman. School was enjoyable and he had a sense of adventure and was rather mischievous. School days were full of gaiety, he was into sports and was always outdoors. Soon after his A/Ls he went to Australia. At that point the young Fernando never had the slightest inclination to do politics.

It seems as though it was his destiny to enter politics. From a very young age the profession appealed to him and it was as if politics chose him!

"I initially wanted to join politics at a very young age. When coming to school from Wattala to Colombo, I would always be entertained at the posters hung by the roads and always preferred the UNP even at that point. I loved the color green at that point."

At a very young age he was initiated into politics. His earliest memory was at the age of four during the 1983 Kalagediya and Lampuwa election. It was a referendum. President J.R Jayawardene came on stage, and it was the young Fernando who garlanded him. That was his first experience in politics on a stage. He still recalls the sky rockets going up!

Subsequently after that he lost interest in politics, but it was during his O/Ls, that once more destiny beckoned to him and he began to like the UNP and its policies. He was a very big fan of President Premadasa and Gamini Dissanayake.

The Thotalanga bomb was another memory that he can recall. He was studying for his O/Ls one night when he heard the noise, living close by. His father was supposed to go for that meeting and he anxiously asked his mother where his father was. Worried, he called his father, and to his great relief he found that his father was in the office.

From there onwards he began to take an interest in politics but had no opportunity to get into politics. But after coming back from Australia he met a girl. She happened to be from Badulla and her father was into politics and Fernando started to help her father and then entered politics getting into the youth front in Badulla.

Fernando fiercely believes in the youth of Sri Lanka. He believes that great things are in store for them. Fernando maintains that now more than ever the involvement of the youth in politics is crucial.

"The shortest message I could give to the youth of Sri Lanka is - The youth have to be part of the change in Sri Lanka. To a great extent the youth were a part of this change. Last year we saw a huge amount of youth standing up for what is right. I am pretty sure they will do the same even with the current government. So they have to be constantly vigil. They have to be very active in the current process. They should not give up."

"They should live with their dreams and fight for what is right and to move forwards and never stop dreaming. Always aim at a star so you will end up above than where you were.

That is what I did, I always aimed at something bigger. You need to start believing in yourself and never give up. Nobody in my family ever thought I would be a politician and here I am today. I only believed in myself, nobody believed in me. And it worked for me. Everybody can put you down but you just have to believe in yourself. When you know you can do something you just have to go ahead and do it. For our country the youth have to get together and believe in the country. Believe in a future, and I am pretty sure the youth in Sri Lanka will be able to change this country to a better place," says the young politician.

Winning the hearts of people was the biggest challenge that Fernando has faced in his life. It has not been easy. Fernando is a man who truly cares about the people. He is a man who delivers what he promises. He is a man who is honest from the heart. He is genuine in his approach and he is genuine in his dealings with people.

That in itself was a big challenge because lots of people expect financial benefit/support more than honesty. They expect financial benefit just to support you. So that is a big challenge when you want to do something and they only expect financial benefit out of you.

"So it is a bit of a challenge how to get in there and how to win the support of people. So one of the reasons why I love Badulla was that they believed in me and I believe in them, so it works for me."

Fernando spends his leisure time listening to music. He loves traveling and the outdoors. He loves to play any outdoor sport. Playing and watching Cricket and Rugby are favorite pastimes. His motto or philosophy in life is 'When the going gets tough the tough get going'.

At heart he is a romantic, loving romantic comedies, such as 'horrible bosses' and 'hangover part 3'. When it comes to books, one particular book he enjoys immensely is 'Rendering Unto Caesar.' It is a book by Bradman Weerakoon. It is about being a secretary to nine odd Prime Ministers. It is how governments have fallen because of little mistakes that they have made. Fernando is of the opinion that every politician should read the book.

Of all places, Majestic City was where he met his life partner in 1999 and it was a blind date! And they have been together for 12 years! Her name is Ravindani and they have two children called Nikhel and Naiara.

Fernando feels that there is still a lot he wants to do. Gratitude is one of his most endearing traits which makes his journey particularly admirable. He has brought about change in a very short time. He is a man who keeps his promises and wants to give back to the people of the Badulla district for 'keeping him on top'.

Fernando avowed that Sri Lanka is in very good hands. Stating that everybody is coming together and that reconciliation is on track he said that everything looks good and perfect and that this is all a dream come true. He also added that Sri Lanka is progressing steadily and in ten years' time we will be one of the top nations in the Asian region.

Pictures by Nirosh Batepola