The Sunday Leader

Honoring Volunteerism – V Awards 2012

By Pavithra Jovan De Mello

Dr. Sinniah Thevananthan and Ms. Flavia Pansieri (Executive Coordinator, United Nations Volunteers Programme Head Quarters), Traditional dancing by the Prashadi Dance Academy, Dr. Sinniah Thevananthan - Winner of V Awards 2012 and Hon. Patali Champika Ranawaka

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.

2 Comments for “Honoring Volunteerism – V Awards 2012”

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  2. banda

    Eknelygoda’s wife latest victim of Sri Lankan intolerance
    By Bob Dietz/CPJ Asia Program Coordinator

    Sri Lankans are calling for a boycott of U.S. products after the U.S. sponsored the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into possible war crimes. (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)
    On Thursday and Friday, we wrote about the ugly government backlash to last week’s U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka’s alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists.
    That campaign of intimidation continues: In the magistrate’s court where Sandhya Eknelygoda has been trying to gain any information about the whereabouts of her husband, Prageeth, who disappeared on January 24, 2010, she came under harsh questioning — observers at the court called it intentionally intimidating — from government lawyers about her presence at the UNHRC in Geneva. Before she returned home from Switzerland, her name had been denounced in the government-controlled media as one of the government’s critics — several of whom have been denounced as “traitors.”
    Eknelygoda told colleagues in Colombo that Monday’s entire court session was about how she went to Geneva, who funded her trip, why she betrayed her country, and how much she was paid to do that. Her lawyer objected to the line of questioning, but was overruled, she said.
    When she had returned home on Sunday from Geneva, she told reporters, “I only wanted to bring the disappearance of my husband to the notice of the international community. But, those who are allied with the government insulted me, saying I went there to betray the country,” she said. You can see a video report of her statement on YouTube.
    Eknelygoda and her two teenage sons have been waging a quiet but steadfast campaign to pressure the government for information about their husband and father. CPJ and four other media support groups wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in March 2011, asking for his intervention in the case. Ban referred the issue to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO, where it has been allowed to languish, despite pleas from Eknelygoda and her supporters.
    Nor has a January 2012 ruling by Sri Lanka’s Appeal Court that former Attorney General Mohan Peiris could be called in as a witness into the disappearance of Eknelygoda been acted on. In a November 2011 posting, “Sri Lanka’s savage smokescreen,” CPJ reported that Peiris told the Asian Human Rights Commission that Eknelygoda had taken refuge in a foreign country and that the campaign against his disappearance is a hoax, although he failed then and ever since to provide detailed information about where Eknelygoda had fled.
    At the time, CPJ said that Peiris’s statements “do more than point up the government’s indifference to Eknelygoda’s fate and the mental anguish of his wife and two sons. Peiris’s statements highlight the disregard with which the government views international opinion.”
    Given the response in the government-controlled media following last week’s Geneva vote, that indifference and disregard have moved on to outright hostility.

    Bob Dietz, coordinator of CPJ’s Asia Program, has reported across the continent for news outlets such as CNN and Asiaweek. He has led numerous CPJ missions, including ones to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Follow him on Twitter @cpjasia and Facebook @ CPJ Asia Desk.
    March 26, 2012 2:04 PM ET | Permalink | Comments (2)

    By Rajan on March 27, 2012 9:26 AM ET
    Dear Author,
    Firstly i like to thank you for bringing this issue out in the open.I am 46 year and living in UK since 1986. Prior to that i was born and bred in Colombo(studied in a sinhala school with Tamil medium) who only visited north of SL during my school holidays as it was my parents birth place. During July 1983 my dad was ill and admited at the Colombo Government hospital. Within few days of admitting him at the hosptial the riots started and we been told to take him home since he is a tamil he might get killed at the hospital. He died on the 10 August 1983, when i was 17, sister 12 and mum middle aged person. We had nothing to do with any troubles in North of SL and because simply being a Tamil we have been penalised and my dad died as a consequence. There are thousands of stories like this, and i am happy mine is not bad as the other. ie: person is not burnt alive by putting tyres put on their necks.
    I only visited SL twice(both occasions i had to go because my mother in law wasnt well) for the past 26yrs, not because i dont like visiting my birth place, but simply because of i am scared of travelling to SL.
    After this many years if i still have the fear for my life by going to colombo, i could imagine what sort of perils the people living in SL are going through, whether Sinhala,Tamil or Muslim. Unless the Government attitude changes starting from the top nothing will change. To do that, Western countries should do much as possible to protect the innocent from mass killings and war crimes and they have a duty to do that, simply because they are the provided the armoury to SL govt and placed them on a dictatorship path.
    Thank you.

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