As a part of Reach Out’s latest project, in lieu of International Women’s Day,
Poet Vivimarie Vanderpoorten
Photograph by Gerald Pereira
Poetry happened to me like my career, something totally unplanned, unwished for, unprepared for. I cannot say with any degree of truth, that ‘I always wanted to be a writer/poet/whatever’ though I did start writing when I was very young. My first ‘poem’ was something about the moon being “yellow/and a heavenly fellow” when I was five. At sixteen, I wrote a poem about a child who died when a parcel bomb intended for his father exploded in his hands. I just used this medium to express myself at first and then later after studying literature for my BA, realized that it takes an awful lot of talent to be a poet, and ‘just wanting to express myself’ was not enough. I stopped writing. It was years later that I started showing it to a few close friends, then a professor I was working for as a research assistant. Everyone said they liked what I said and how. I sent a poem to the Sunday Times’ ’100 words’ column, after my father’s death and posted one on British Council’s writeclique.com days after the tsunami. That was the beginning of me believing that my poetry could be shared. Publishing my book is the fourth bravest thing I have done. It means you have to not only believe in yourself and your voice but it also means accepting criticism and acknowledging the shortcomings of your art and the fact that you will constantly need to work at improving it.
Model and journalist, Roel Raymond
Photograph by Aamina Nizar
A deeply impressionable child, I had wanted to be many things once I grew up. An Olympic athlete, a crane operator, a soldier, and – in a final desperate bid to hold a gun – a security guard. At 27, finally grown up, I am a mother, a model, a student, a writer and a journalist. A hopeless romantic, I also had a new ‘crush’ every day – from real, live boys to fictional characters in books; the most memorable and obvious one being Rhett Butler from Gone With The Wind. Today I am in the process of divorcing my husband of five years and raising my superstar son on my own. Does life pan out exactly the way you want it? Sometimes not. But you learn the most valuable lessons when you are lost. I learned that no matter where I looked, the answer always lay within. I learned that sustainable happiness can be found – if you refuse to dwell on the past, refuse to fret about the future and live only in the moment – in the ‘right now’. I learned it is possible to have faith without the external trappings of religion and that love without object encompasses all. However with time I learned that I could create my own reality; that I could write, direct and produce my life story, just the way I wanted it. You can too.
Tv producer Sharmini Boyle
Photograph by Aamina Nizar
I started off wanting to be a documentary maker but over time have ended up being more broadly involved in the TV industry in Sri Lanka.
I feel lucky to have been able to follow the professional career I have, which is primarily as a TV producer because it has taken me to the most unexpected places and given me the chance to get involved with so many interesting initiatives. I feel a good sense of job satisfaction in general.
However, the media is ever changing, not because of new technology alone, or that it is such a market driven industry, but also because it is so closely linked to other developments in society and politics.
So there are always challenges to face in trying to stay in there and be effective and viable – which takes hard work too.
Sri Lanka is yet to fully exploit the potential of its media industry but this has begun to happen and together with the impact of global media developments, unpredictable and exciting changes will take place in the future.
Philanthropist and counsellor from Akurana, Kandy Ghaneema Thaha
Photograph by Shifani Reffai
Born into the family of a village headman I have always been concerned with the problems of the people. In a village everyone knows everyone, but does not know the problems of everyone. Only those who are willing to listen to the problems come to realise how difficult it is to live without a bread winner for the family. Today, with the rising cost of living, disappearance of extended family system and lack of empowerment of women, if and when the husband dies, divorces or leaves the wife – usually burdened with the children too – she finds it almost impossible to survive. The need for empowerment in order to survive is essential but not done by any governmental departments. Therefore giving them financial assistance, for the minimum needs to be fulfilled, is essential. I have been involved in finding help for these single women – either from my own money or from kind donors. Helping them to get food and clothes, housing, wells on one hand and on the other hand listening to their problems and advising them how to get about life are two important aspects they need. Also whenever there are common problems in the village the woman’s voice is heard much better if only we take the trouble to get involved. I feel there is so much a village woman can do for the society if only we take the initiative to care enough about people.