Shame on you Amal de Chickera !

GAYA FERNANDO

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Thursday morning: With fury and disgust I read Amal de Chickera’s critique of two organisations that are empowering young people in the North and South published on Groundviews on 27 Dec titled Racing Tanks with Bicycles: A parable of Reconciliation. I am furious that while he raises valid critiques that we can relate to, he cleverly attempts within those valid critiques to dismiss, scoff and spray graffiti on the efforts and image of two organisations in Sri Lanka. I am shocked at these attempts by Sri Lankans to avoid analysing these orgs for their objectives, to appreciate the leaders of these orgs and to recognise that in the political climate we are in, these efforts go a long way and the alternative is to …DO… Nothing !

I know the work of the Foundation of Goodness from personal experience as I wished to find out what they do and who they were. And so this is my reply to the Groundviews publication in GV comment language 😉 :

Spoilers live ok in Sri Lanka. Shame on you Mr de Chickera. It is not a shame that you critique and raise valid points. It is a bloody shame in language you will relate to that you falsely paint a picture of Sri Lanka Unites and Foundation of Goodness that is misleading. You do not credit the Foundation of Goodness for their work in both Seenigama and Mankulam. You do not credit the Foundation for being led by a visionary and a strong human force called Kushil Gunasekera and a relentless team of people Tamil Muslim and Sinhalese both local employees and Diasporan volunteers who are working in villages North and South.

Have you heard of Fazana Ibrahim? well the little villages where she has painted the toilets donated by big CMB corporates, certainly have. Are you jealous man? Do you believe that your audience are DENSE? That they are IGNORANT? Walk around your own country and give a slow clap to people who brave the heat in former Wanni, who actually WALK the TALK.

But then this trait is characteristic of our nation. And those who are well-intentioned run out of steam. Shame !

Access to education is pretty well-provided and those few schools that are occupied will be freed I hope in time but as an involved sponsor of children up North I can tell you that a school bag is a school for those who may be tutored under a tree. It’s a cupboard for a little scholar to protect his books and pencils. It means that someone out there cares that he continues studying.

How about the Life-Saver pack that Kushil designed for those families who had nothing? I asked him how did you know what to include in a lifesaver pack and he said simply ‘ you walk into their homes and speak to them and you will know’.

Sri Lanka Unites is strapped for cash at many times and have had to postpone events as they did not receive adequate funding. Shame on you for your false accusations.

Sri Lanka Unites and Foundation of Goodness are two organisations that are led by people who have a choice NOT to do anything in Sri Lanka and carry on with their own lives or INTERVENE in a sustainable way to heal the nation but also to empower the children for the future. SHAME ON YOU de CHICKERA !

That was my reply on the GV site.

Dear iSrilankans, while we may ‘lament’ that the military is present and involved in dispensing materials, while we stay alert to the rights of the war-affected, may we not be playing to the gallery and upsetting a lot of Tamil brothers and sisters by giving out a false and one-sided perspective.

I can fully understand how difficult it is for the Tamil Diaspora to actually work with the military in aid operations but many of them whom I have met with determination and commitment to improving the lives of the children TODAY have managed very well.

The way I see it is we waited for years for the war to end and despite the obstacles, there our ways to engage with the living and to have a mutually transforming friendship with people who have very little materially but have not known us in their lifetime and so the friendship begins and we can empower the kids in our own way.

If we patronise them, we are fools. If we understand however that a little material help is needed but that we too need them to accept us and share what they’ve been through with us, we gain a lot and the relationship does not have to be a destructive one. It’s called restoring community and well it’s a well-known fact that sometimes cross-community there is more acceptance and gentleness than among members of the same community in Sri Lanka, a land like no other.

This is simple stuff but the media tends to paint issues in stark language and if you know people who work with North and South you will know the surprises and delightful exchanges and friendships and these experiences do not hit the headlines and are kept private among the like-minded.

May the Diaspora also know that despite the overall undesirable intervention of military into philanthropy, some of the individuals in the military at every level are organised and committed and cognisant of the inner workings of the communities who receive the aid, they are also expert in the ramifications of distributing aid to the North and have averted many a naiive donor organisation from causing further tension and friction amongst the beneficiary communities.

Sleepless they have sorted out packs of school materials so that an eraser or a set of colour pencils do not get missed out from ONE of the 400 school packs. They have laughingly ordered the Rotary Club members to go to bed and leave it to them to make the packs as it needs precision and some expertise to make sure not one child misses out. One young Army Officer smirks : “WHO will give my little sister her school pack now, I wonder?” and still makes sure that she does her duty and with dedication volunteers to do it herself througout the night till 2 am.

Even the military is made up of young people in Sri Lanka from humble homes and those same homes are the homes that have members of Sri Lanka Unites and people who are working for the Foundation of Goodness. I have met them and spoken with them and visited these places.

If the so-called educated articulate people of Sri Lanka can take a few minutes to give a slow clap to Foundation of Goodness, Sri Lanka Unites and the many other organisations and individuals multi-ethnic that are healing the lives of the children of Sri Lanka, do it! If not now, when?

I cannot prevent the political apparatus from relentlessly turning but I can prevent a 10 yr old girl from being married off in a couple of years while keeping house for grandparents instead of continuing her school education, I can empower a little boy with one eye to laugh and stand on his own TWO feet and learn to live independently with that eye and I can support the work of others who are doing much much more. And yes, to the spoilers, you will not be ignored when you try to beat the stuffing out of those who are contributing to the future of the children. Do your research and do better next time Mr de Chickera and the likes of you. Shame on you !

Comments

  1. The most important thing those people who are running GroundViews and some contributing there lacks is a good grasp of ground reality. They seems to think that all social, political issues must be addressed before we start feeding people, providing them shelter, access to health care etc. They seems to believe prosecuting a few army soldiers for war crimes will heal the wounds. I’m actually not surprised because they were never known for think for themselves.

    People become desperate and victims of extremism when they are deprived of any opportunity to meet their basic human needs. When people have nothing to lose, it’s easy to convince them to blow themselves up destroying everything. Providing them something they will not dare losing is not just one parties job. Everyone of us has a piece to bring in. I think that’s what Foundation of Goodness and similar organizations are doing. What they are doing must be commendable and should be replicated as much as possible.

    Politicians can bring laws, amend constitutions but people to people interaction is what heal wounds. Nothing will really change unless we learn to look at each other with respect and trust. It’s very essential to get military involved in grass root level work if we want our military to be Sri Lankan military not Sinhala military.

  2. Well said Gaya, just saw this and read. We do not have the time and energy to argue or fight or even defend with these ignorant selfish fools who have no heart. These articles will not STOP us who are ONLY interested in making life style changes at least in a very small way as that small change is making a significant impact on the people who have suffered for so many years. As for SLU I too work and engage personally in most of their activities and I can vouch for all the work they do as volunteers and all students who have better things to do as teenagers do in todays society but they have committed themselves to make a change for the better of humanity for a racist free future for all the future generation and not to lament over. Stupid jobless jouranlist who could join hands with us for a better cause.

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