19th March,  2006  Volume 12, Issue 36

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


Therapeutic art— post tsunami

By Kumudu Amarasingham

The highest form of giving is to give back to people the perfection and beauty that they once were, and still are, but have forgotten. Maybe that’s why one organisation that strives to do this call’s itself T-TOP. Nothing in the universe is ever a co-incidence.

T-TOP is the Sunera Foundation’s Tsunami Theatre Outreach Project. The brainchild of Sunera’s Creative Director, Rohana Deva, the project uses the performing arts to provide therapeutic healing to hundreds of children who were traumatised by the tsunami.

Yes, they’re still there, and they’re still not over it. Some tragedies take a lifetime to end. That is, if no one cares.

One year after the chaos and confusion of the ‘big wave,’ fewer people are rushing into the scene than the first onslaught of compassion demanded.

Much of the external debris has been cleared, but much is left to be done. "We waited until this clearance occurred," Chairperson, Sunera Foundation, Sunethra Bandaranaike said. Waited, until the funds, all from international sources, had come in. Waited until the groundwork, the administration, the trainers, had been found. Waited until the dirt and sand had been cleared on the outside, to some extent, to start clearing within. And so far Bandaranaike said she is very happy with the results.

The other hands behind the work include Ramani Damayanthi’s, Nandanie de Silva’s, Samith K Watagala’s and Mohammed Madhany’s – all trained professionals in their fields, who are committed to their work. Ramani, a trained and highly qualified actress, has been with the Sunera Foundation since its inception and is the assistant creative director of the project.

Workshops are held in six districts including Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Trincomalee, Ampara and Jaffna, with over 2500 children, belonging to all three communities, taking part.

T-TOP is run with the assistance of the National Youth Services Council (NYSC), which is handling the monitoring of its administrative aspects. NYSC also sourced the specific locations of each workshop and nominated young people from their youth clubs in each area to be hired and trained as workshop leaders.

The key funding agencies behind T-TOP include Deutsche Bank, The East-West Center in Hawaii, Force of Nature, Global Fund for Children and Siege Social Jules.

No, money cannot buy happiness: but with a little help, a little heart, and many hands, it can give happiness, security – and perfection – back to those who once had it.

Dr. A. N. S. Kulasinghe revisits his alma mater

Following is an adaptation from the St. Benedict’s College 2000 millennium magazine titled Benedictine Memoirs. In his contribution to the magazine Vidyajyothi Viswaprasadini Dr. A. N. S. Kulasinghe recounts his journey as a student through this illustrious educational institution

Since my childhood I had a great desire to study engineering but the college in which I studied for my Junior School Certificate examination did not have the necessary facilities for teaching physics, which was essential before embarking on engineering studies.

After passing the JSC examination it became necessary for me to find a school that had excellent facilities for teaching physics, chemistry, and advanced mathematics and my inquiries revealed that St. Benedict’s College fit the bill.

I entered St. Benedict’s College after being interviewed by Bro. Luke, the then director, in early 1936 and was admitted to the pre-matriculation class.

Although my knowledge of science was limited at the JSC level, the excellent teachers I had at St. Benedict’s College enabled me to study chemistry, physics, and mathematics with ease so that I reached first place in physics and mathematics and second place in chemistry by the end of the third term. The second year saw me achieving this level right through that year.

I must acknowledge here my deep and respectful gratitude to Mr. R. H. Phillips who taught me advanced mathematics and Physics in such a way that gave me a firm grounding in these subjects, which were so essential for my career in engineering. It was a great pleasure attending his classes, especially in the College Form (post-matriculation) where close contact with him was possible due to the small number of students — about six — in the class.

Bro. Luke was a great disciplinarian who had a great influence on all the students at that time. I remember one occasion when one of my good friends in the class was so rude to the laboratory assistant that it caused Bro. Luke to come to the laboratory and administer a punishment my friend would never ever forget. It was a lesson to others, too, to instil good behaviour.

In those days teachers were held in great respect by students who never questioned their authority. Most teachers were also gentlemen who were devoted to the task of producing good citizens out of students, in addition to teaching the various subjects in the curriculum. I must emphasise how the guidance a student received during the period spent at school moulded his character and behaviour in later life. This shows the great responsibility that is thrust on the teacher, which is a sacred responsibility.

During my time at school the students had no feeling of belonging to any particular race or community but got along very well being concerned with only their studies and other school activities. We had close friends who made our school life happy and interesting.

Our teachers taught us what was necessary, and there was no need to seek private tuition. We were able to play and enjoy ourselves outside school hours, but we devoted some of that time to reading good books to enhance our knowledge and improve our proficiency in Sinhala and English. There was no need to "burn the midnight oil" when examinations came around if we followed our classes diligently.

There were some events that I still remember. One was the visit to college by the great poet, musician, and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, which enabled us to see and hear the great man. The other was the visit by Fr. Peter Pillai, who was given an enthusiastic reception when he arrived after achieving his brilliant academic successes. He was also a brother of our Director, Bro. Luke.

Another unforgettable experience was the annual prize giving, especially my last one in 1938 when I carried away the first prize for physics, mathematics, and Sinhala and the Paramanathan Memorial Gold Medal for general proficiency. A very useful feature of the prizes was that the prize books given were text books in physics and mathematics, which were required for my studies in engineering at the Ceylon Technical College.

A privilege I enjoyed while studying at St. Benedict’s College was being granted permission to follow the evening classes in electrical engineering at the Technical College. My studies in physics and mathematics at St. Benedict’s were complementary to the subjects covered in the course at Technical College. This was of great benefit to me in both classes. This also gave me an opportunity to study under Prof. R. H. Paul who had a great influence on my studies during this period and, thereafter, in the B.Sc. (Engineering) course at Technical College.

The excellent training I had especially in physics and mathematics at St. Benedict’s College enabled me to win one of the four entrance scholarships at the Technical College and continue my studies in the B.Sc. (Eng.) class on a Sri Chandrasekera Scholarship. The strict discipline I was subjected to at St. Benedict’s College, especially under the Directorship of Bro. Luke, helped me in my task of managing large state organisations where I had to face challenging problems in the course of my work.

Being eighty-one years old and having spent nearly 60years gathering experience in active life, I take this opportunity to give a bit of advice to students attending school today. Consider why you are sent to school by your parents and why you are attending school. It is not only to learn the various subjects and pass examinations but also to become citizens of good moral character so you can unselfishly serve your community and country. Concentrate on the task before you and do not waste your time. Do not try to change society till you are mature enough to understand and appreciate the problems in life; for ideologies change with maturity and experience. I conclude by thanking St. Benedict’s College for all that it gave me and wish it a successful future in its service to humanity and the country.

A man-woman flower

By Risidra Mendis

A mixture of a variety of colour combinations brought to gether in the form of religious and human figures makes Wasantha Kumara’s paintings look as if they were a reproduction of a temple painting.

However a closer look at his paintings makes you realise that it is Kumara’s self taught artistic technique that he uses in his paintings. Kumara uses a mixture of bright greens, oranges, browns, blues and purples among others to turn out various figures and forms. His unusual and creative artistic techniques have made Kumara one of the most creative artists in the country.

Having experimented with colours and lines of different lengths and sizes for many years Kumara has successfully produced some of the most beautiful creations one could imagine.

His latest exhibition Susanwedhi will give those of you who have not yet seen his paintings the opportunity of seeing a different style in painting. "I have named the paintings in my exhibition Pancha Padma. Every human has five senses – namely sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. A person’s reaction to the outer world depends on his or her five senses," say Kumara.

According to Kumara his paintings are based on the process of a human’s five senses. "I have created complete male and female figures with lotuses in their hands. The five lotuses symbolise the five senses. If you are a woman standing before a male figure of Pancha Padma you will meet a very graceful man to walk with him around the world. If you are a man looking at a female figure of Pancha Padma you will meet a graceful woman.

According to Kumara the immense satisfaction he gets when a painting is complete cannot be explained in words. "I try as much as possible to make my paintings natural. I like to observe people when they are not aware of my presence. The natural and artistic creation in a painting can be seen when the subject is not aware of the painter’s presence" says Kumara.

"Some artists go to a special school to learn how to paint. But for me mastering the art of painting on my own has made me realise the value of being an artist" Kumara said.

Kumara’s 22nd exhibition Susanwedhi will be held at the Old Library Hall, Badulla (Senerath Paranavithana Library) on March 19, 20 and 21.

With every goodbye...

LIFE is love; to be given and be received, It’s full of meetings and partings It is a journey moving forward all the time; so It is full of good byesl and welcomes!

After awhile...

You learn that love given enriches the giver and the receiver. Love unrequited enriches only the giver. You learn the subtle difference between Holding a hand and chaining a soul.

Though partings hurt and leave scars,

They call for the best in you — your nobility, forgiveness, magnanimity to let the other go on her (his) way. None can prevent adieus and good byes! As birth and death; beginnings and ends. Joys and sorrows are as night and day in nature’s course.

In the wisdom of good bye you will learn to face the reality:

That looks and touches are not always genuine, and promises are not always true. That youth and beauty are mere rags of time.

As you learn to accept your loss

‘Eros’ may stoop to mourn the loss, but Serene and strong be the ‘Agape’ that blesses the offended and the offender, And you learn that your inner light burning ever brighter and still steadier.

With your head held high, and your eyes ahead, You will learn with the grace of a woman, that you can walk STRONGER than yesterday.

After awhile...

You will learn that the desert of harshness, coldness, rejection and carping words are merely the shaping tools to be more dearer to those nearer and truer.

You will learn that every sunshine burns if you get too much so be wise and plant your garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring flowers....

And you learn that you really can endure, That you really are strong That you really do have worth And you learn ...

And you learn..

With every good-bye you learn... To walk STRONGER and FREER.

Sr.Consilia H. C.

Film Festival

Women and Media Collective has organised a film festival in celebration of Women’s Day 2006 which fell on March 8.The films will be screened free of charge at the Russian Center, no 10, Independence Avenue, Colombo 7.

On March 20 at 2.30 p.m is 15 Park Avenue-Aparna Sen and at 6 p.m is Khamosh Pani-Sabiha Sumar.

On March 21 at 2.30 p.m is Page 3-Madhur Bhandarkar and at 6 p.m is 15 Park Avenue-Aparna Sen.

On March 22 at 2.30 pm is Khamosh Pani-Sabiha Sumar and at 6 p.m is Page 3-Madhur Bhandarkar.

Kamosh Pani has won best film and best artiste awards at the Locarno International Film Festival 2003.

Page 3 was best film, National Film Festival, India-2005. All films are just a little over one and a half hours.

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