Honoring Volunteerism – V Awards 2012
By Pavithra Jovan De Mello
Volunteerism is one of those rare tasks people take part in, and those who volunteer, have no intention in seeking fame or appreciation. But IYV+10 National Steering Committee in collaboration with News 1st, organized the V Awards 2012 to honor Sri Lanka’s most inspiring volunteer of the year.
Sri Lanka’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’ was acclaimed on the 21st of January 2012 at the prestigious V Awards ceremony held at the Sirasa Stein Studios in Ratmalana.
Emerging as the winner from a pool of the island’s most inspirational volunteers, Dr. Sinniah Thevananthan, Founder of the ‘Osilmo Special Education and Research Center for autistic children’ was selected as the “Volunteer of the Year” for his outstanding contributions in the arena of active volunteerism. Dr. Thevananthan (Age 40) is tirelessly working towards ensuring the same rights, freedom and opportunities for children with autistic children that other children enjoy. Thus, he set up the ‘Osilmo Special Education and Research Center’ as a residential care giving facility to support autistic children. He and his team of specialists believe in overall development of a child that goes beyond medication towards a series of therapies and rehabilitation systems which are provided on a voluntary basis. His services have reached beyond all geographical, ethnic and religious differences in the country to brighten as many innocent lives as possible made him further more deserving of this recognition.
Further to the prestigious V Award of the “Volunteer of the Year”, seven top finalists were selected for their outstanding efforts as volunteers of Sri Lanka. The seven top finalists were; Mr. Damitha Senaka Karunaratne (Age 58) who is the founder of the Kosala Dullewa Foundation (KDF) for children with special needs.
Mr. Heenbanda Thrimanna Hettiarachchi hailing from Kothmalpura, Anuradhapura is 59 years old. He has been serving his community as a care provider for Ayurveda medicine preparation and special medical practices in Anuradhapura in a completely voluntary basis.
Ms. Kumarawathi Dharmarathne Nakathegedara (Age 44),who started to brighten the lives of those living in the rural village of Wanaraniya by reactivating the Women’s Welfare Society in the village, building houses for widows and providing sanitised water to the village for the benefit of over 170 homes.
Mr. Kushil Gunasekera (Age 55), has dedicated his life and wealth to uplifting the lives of over 25,000 people in Southern Sri Lanka. His Foundation of Goodness has 30 empowerment sectors especially designed to help the beneficiaries to fight poverty through productive activities.
Ms. Lakshmi Ratnayeke, (Age 72) with 33 years of exhilarating volunteer service at Sri Lanka Sumithrayo, a charity working in the field of suicide prevention, she was given the responsibility of Directing of 3 centres. She has made lifelong achievements by her constant presence in these effected people’s lives by preventing acts of suicide and giving those hopes of social inclusion.
Ms. Pearl Marrygold George Stephen,(Age 73) who is the pioneer of Women Empowerment Centre in Mullgampola village of Kandy. Her efforts has changed the lives of women and children who have been abused and living under hardships.
Ms. Sharmini Perera,(Age 48) the founder of “Home of Hope” .She extended her protection and care to children who were victims of abuse and abduction or had been disowned by their families. Now there are eighty three children at the ‘Home of Hope’ undergoing vocational and technical training to achieve their fullest potential in life.
The V Awards grand finale did not only consist of recognition and honouring of outstanding volunteers in Sri Lanka. It was also filled with an entertainment line-up including Sri Lanka’s pop icons Bathiya and Santhush, award winning choir Voice Print, traditional dancing from the Prashadi Dance Academy and music performances by percussion group Naardro and traditional drum performance by Jananath Warakagoda.
The event’s theme song was sung by Samitha Mudunkotuwa, Heshan Gamage, Ravihans, Sachith Peiris, Centigradz, Sankha B, Azi Sheriff, Natasha Rathnayake and Shakthi Junior Super Stars.
The event was graced by the presence of, Ms. Flavia Pansieri (Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteers Programme Head Quarters), Hon. Felix Perera (Minister of Social Services), Mr. Subinay Nandy (Resident Coordinator, United Nations Sri Lanka), Mr. Douglas Keh (Country Director, UNDP Sri Lanka), UN Agency Heads, Officials of Maharajah Broadcasting Corporation and several other distinguish Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
The V Awards’ finale was aired live on Maharaja Networks and was a treat to eye filled with colorful and extravagant performances and a moving speech by the winner. This programme makes us realise that there are good and kind hearted people in Sri Lanka who dedicate their time and wealth in order to make the lives of the less fortunate better and also proves that volunteerism really matters in making a difference.