What is a ‘chapbook’? Why does he do it? Imaad Majeed interviewed.

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 10.03.24 AMThis is a copy of a Chapbook stamped by the Jaffna Library. This is where you can take a look at what’s in it.

Gaya: What is a chapbook?

Imaad: A chapbook is a publication that consists of less than 40 pages. They used to be sold by peddlers known as chapmen in the Early Modern period in England. The word “chap” comes from the Old English for trade. There are 200 copies in print distributed organically, 6 copies to each contributor and the rest to two coffee shops, Charcoal Gallery and Hansa both who have shown interest in promoting the arts.

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A Masters worth its Salt: Master of Development Practice, Peradeniya Uni


Some people get into development work without a clue as to what it’s all about. They joined up to a corps of people who wanna make the world a better place. That’s fine.

Then there are professionals who slog away at commercial jobs and half-way take a break, unwind in the mountains or beaches of Sri Lanka and wonder if this is all there is to life. Then they apply with their corporate skills and experience for jobs in the non-profit sector. That’s great!

Some people are very career-minded and would like to start out with a degree in an area that will give them experience in working with communities and are interested in the concept of sustainable development.  That’s wonderful !

Oh yes, and what about the experienced employees in NGOs who think they are too ‘senior’ to come into a University classroom and take on a challenge sitting beside the young hopefuls twenty-something but are crazy about getting a Masters in the area of work they love?

Well, all of you are absolutely welcome !

Master of Development Practice (MDP) at Peradeniya

“Sri Lanka and its neighbours face compelling challenges as they move toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the context of pursuing a sustainable development agenda. These include threats from climate change, vulnerability to natural disasters, rapid urbanization, demographic change, persistent and substantial levels of poverty and malnutrition especially in lagging regions and among vulnerable groups. Addressing these complex issues requires professionals with many areas of core knowledge, practical skills and an interdisciplinary approach” MDP, Peradeniya University website

Why it is innovative and unique

There are some features of this MDP that make it an incredibly practical and workable challenge to those committed to development. They are not listed in order of importance.

FIRST, the MDP is open to those who may not have a University degree but instead may be able to meet the equivalent in terms of experience. We could give you a few courses you may need but the gates are not barred; they are open.

SECOND,  the MDP is conducted entirely on weekends so those who are working full-time as most of us do, can travel up to Peradeniya on the weekends when lectures are held.

THIRD, it’s just great that the MDP is inter-disciplinary, drawing on humanities, social sciences, management, law, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, to name a few. And this inter-disciplinary thinking gets you good marks with UN and NGOs, non-profit sector as the work at hand demands this perspective rather than expertise in one discipline.

FOURTH, the MDP can place the students in ‘placements’ for their field work in unique locations and working with top-notch Development Orgs the range and scope of which cannot be rivalled by any other Masters in this field.

FIFTH, the faculty, the liaisons and connections with Columbia University and the global network makes this Masters a valuable experience and one that will give you the insight and professional knowledge to further your career and to expand your perspectives on Sustainable Development.

Applications for the following academic year 2016/17 are NOW OPEN  Dec-Feb. Please see the student resources page on the MDP website for details and for your easy reference here is the Applications Page.

Student Testimonials :

“when I found out about the new approach focusing more on field training and the inter-disciplinary course content itself, covering geography, biology, statistics and economics (which should be essentially included if the development practitioner is to design and implement projects that would benefit different aspects of life of the beneficiaries) it made more sense and yes, I thought this is it!”  Natasha Yatawara. Read her story from Gambia in this interview.

The Master of Development Practice is a programme in 17 countries.  The Peradeniya University is one of the five Asian universities to be included in the global MDP network. It’s a Masters programme worth its salt. iSrilankan is proud to promote its benefits to the Sri Lankan local and international student community.

Like the MDP Facebook Page  right away and you can keep up with the news and updates easily.

The images of Peradeniya University above and the collage below are credited to Kalpa Rajapaksha

Profile: Veddah Gunabandiyale Aththo


Gunabandiyale Aththo is the brother of the present chieftain Uruwarige Wanniyale Attho of the Indigenous (Veddah) community of Sri Lanka – 300 km from Colombo at the remote jungle village of Dambana. Being descendants with a history dating back to 16000 BC and the ‘Vedda’ community presently comprises of around 350 families and was originally hunter-gatherers using bow and arrow to hunt games, and also gathered wild plants and honey.

Gaya: When I worked with Mahinda Jeevananda he was an Art Director at Grant McCann-Erickson and did not click a camera that often (at least not one that I knew of).  As Sri Lanka emerged from the no-travel-zone wartimes and people started moving around and gazing at the country they little knew, Mahinda Aiya took some glorious shots of the Jaffna Fort.  When I saw em I asked him whether he was into photography and it was his fervour and knowledge of the history of Sri Lanka that surprised me.  Did I know my countrymen?  Has the space for peaceful travel in our country made us evolve and realise our passion for photography, documenting communities and being out on a limb? Maybe Mahinda Aiya was all these things and I didn’t know him well. But now on the digital media he shares his work which should be on display in a gallery. iSrilankan would love to bring you  Mahinda Jeevananda’s Sri Lanka in the times ahead.

Dev Wijewardane: An awesome photoessay on the Pantanal, Brazil



Go directly to the Gallery for an exhibition of Dev Wijewardane’s incredible Pantanal photoessay. Scroll down for the iSrilankan interview with Dev.

If the Pantanal is the Mecca of wildlife tourism in Brazil, there are a few prophecies and wise practices we could learn from in protecting our own wildlife-tourism and habitat sustainability experience in Sri Lanka. Dev Wijewardane the disciple who took off on a pilgrimage comes from a family tradition of wildlife enthusiasts who actually learn about the ways of nature and wildlife and have been taught at the toddling stages of wildlife-spotting how man and nature should treat each other.
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“It truly is a life-changing experience” Natasha Yatawara


Where is she now? Natasha Yatawara is in Gambia in Africa of all places.

That’s the ‘placement’ she chose as part of her Master of Development Practice (MDP) at Peradeniya University. iSrilankan is featuring Natasha in a student testimonial series on the MDP at Pera but her story stands on its own with insights into a culture where gender-divisions in labour are surprising and the smiles shine through despite the survival challenge faced by the Gambians.

1.Why did you wish to get in on the MDP? What are the factors that attracted you?

Well it was my mother who introduced me to it first (she is also in the same class :)) but when we found out about the new approach focusing more on field training and the inter-disciplinary course content itself, covering geography, biology, statistics and economics (which should be essentially included if the development practitioner is to design and implement projects that would benefit different aspects of life of the beneficiaries) it made more sense and we thought this is it !!

It fit our requirements as my mother has been in the development field for over 2 decades and the course allowed her to revisit her practical knowledge through different models and structures and I have wanted to be involved in grassroots development of communities ever since my first trip to one of my mother’s project locations when I was a kid and it also allowed me to expand my understanding of concepts studies during my under-grad in Sociology.

On a personal level, the MDP also caught my attention as it was offered in Peradeniya – a place I’ve always wanted to be at – purely because of the beautiful landscaping of the campus 🙂

2. How would you recommend it to someone who was interested in further study in dev ? What is your special worded message ?

This is a course that draws people from all disciplines be it engineering, law, education, healthcare or main-stream development workers and the course has something to offer for all of these backgrounds as well as to draw from them too. (which is how most of our classes were conducted-an introduction of a new model or a concept leading to lengthy discussions between lecturer-student and students themselves which created an enriching environment to be engaged in).

So if you wish to be involved in development and not just expand your knowledge but also to be more broad-minded and inclusive (which in my opinion are essential ingredients for an effective development practitioner), this is definitely a programme for you! You will contribute to it as well as gain from it.

3. How are you finding your placement in Africa ? what are the surprises, the delights and how does this change the way dev studies are taught in a classroom? What is the additional insights this placement/internship brings

Well, I’ll start with exhilarating!! I couldn’t have wished for a better place for the internship. I don’t mean to say its easy but the challenges in terms of adapting to a new culture, environment, work ethics have all been a test of my abilities to adjust and I’m impressed with the personal progress so far 🙂 and of course the people in this place (The Gambia-West Africa) are the most accommodating and warmest community you will ever find. its incredible how much at home I feel among them.

In terms of surprises, the most striking was the gender division of labor. The roles of men and women are evidently different from the Sri Lankan communities though interesting in terms of physical energy required for each task and the particular individual assigned in performing them.

I wouldn’t say it changes (or it should change) the way development studies are taught in the classroom as you need to have a grounding in the concepts and understanding of how they can be applied in the real world, but field training in a challenging environment definitely makes you if it doesn’t break you.  I think this is the true test for someone aspiring to be an effective development practitioner.

When you are out here (as opposed to in the classroom) all your antennas are constantly attuned to the environment around, body language, verbal responses, cues on how well or bad the shared ideas/information is received and might be put into action and so on. In class you’d learn about importance of making a mother understand why washing hands before every meal, after meals, during the day with disinfectant, etc., is crucial for better health of her children, but how do you make it work in a place where water is one of the scarcest resources and therefore you keep reusing the same bowl of water to wash five different things?

“I think one of the most important things I’ve realised is that what is right for you is not necessarily right for another community. You cannot help them develop if the picture of “developed society” you have in your head is one brought from home.  It has to come from the community itself and what they want, not what you think they want.”

It truly is a life changing experience 🙂

best from Gambia,

Message from Dileni Gunewardena, MDP Programme Coordinator, University of Peradeniya says: If you are interested in this Masters in Development Practice (MDP) at the Peradeniya University which is for those who work full-time as well as not, those who are local and foreign and those who may not have the formal graduate degree from a University but experience, please read more on the Masters Worth its Salt here, please check our MDP website for details and keep in touch by liking us on Facebook.

Applications for the following academic year 2013/15 are NOW OPEN Dec-Feb. Please see the MDP website for details and for your easy reference here is the Application page.


iSrilankan-Londoners: 13 Nov St.Martin-in-the-Fields with Tanya Ekanayaka

Tanya is back and will be performing at St-Martin-in-the-Fields the world renowned recital venue on 13 Nov in a few days.

Back in 2010, Tanya Ekanayake  was the first Sri Lankan pianist to be invited to give a solo piano recital in the ‘Pianists of the World’ series at London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields. This was in 2010.

One of the oldest recital series of St Martin-in-the-Fields having been founded by the legendary Dame Myra Hess, Tanya’s programme concluded with the world première of her composition ‘Adahas: of Wings of Roots’ which was the first composition by a Sri Lankan to be performed at this venue.

Click play, listen to Adahas: Of Wings of Roots and be enchanted !!

For more on Tanya, our very own Peradeniya graduate read the related stories below.

Just-published book on Sri Lanka : Nayomi Munaweera’s ‘Island of a Thousand Mirrors’

It’s a rare blend of war, love and migration. Am looking for the author to do an Artists&Life podcast with her on her book, her take on life and else. It’s the right time however to introduce her cos this lady is gonna read at the Samadhana 2012 Benefit Reading Series which is an SLWB event organised by Kumaran Nadesan in Toronto. SLWB is involved in bringing the North American Sinhalese and Tamil Diaspora together in events that will build bridges between two communities that do not ordinarily meet in the same space though there are many like-minded. Great stuff ! [Read more…]

Do we recognise freedom when it is presented to us ?

SHANAKA FERNANDO, Lentil as Anything, Melbourne
Gaya’s Intro: Just listen to every word for every word is true and no one has said it better with explicit humour which will make you smirk, whince and cry ! Note: Tedx :  independently organised Ted-like experience under license from TED.com [Read more…]

Asela Perera: A must-hear trailer to “Evenings in the Sun”


Play :


Asela Perera : A promo vid by Nadya Tissera from iSrilankan on Vimeo


Asela Perera is a musician who speaks of matters close to his heart through his tunes. He found his calling from his previous EP Paper Boy which was released last year. This October, he will be releasing his 3rd EP titled “Evenings in the Sun” .

Asela Perera has a unique gift of grabbing and tying down one’s attention with his comforting, soothing voice and calming melodies.

The first track released from Evenings in the Sun, titled Once is available on www.aselaperera.com


Photography and concept by Nadya Tissera.



Nadya Tissera is a photographer. This is her first attempt to combine her love for photography and music. Music is a form of art that inspires her in her life and especially in photography. She finds it intriguing how music plays a significant role in one’s life.

Nadya hopes to continue in her search in how music affects life and heals in a series of photostories. Her work can be viewed at www.facebook.com/nadyaphotography

Whilst photography is her hobby, she is a HR professional and carries with her a strange fascination with dragons.

I fell in love the moment I got off the plane. I wrapped my soul around it and tied a knot…


I remember I was four getting off the plane and having the warm air brush against my face. Young men that looked like me called out to each other in the foreign language my mother spoke as well. A foreign language I had heard too sparsely in the land I was born – Oh, Canada.

I fell in love the moment I got off the plane. I wrapped my soul around it and tied a knot. I was bounded and I would love it forever. It was perfect in so many ways – A home away from home.
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