Making their tomorrows brighter
By Ruwanthi Herat Gunaratne
What is the future of the children of soldiers who have either died in
action or been disabled? Take the case of Nishantha (not his real name)
who has lost both arms and sight in one eye. He has a baby-girl,
(one and a half years old) whose future stretches ahead of her.
But Nishantha does not worry. For his daughter was among the 113 soldiers'
children awarded scholarships by the Seva Vanitha Unit of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs at a simple ceremony held last Thursday at the All Ceylon
Buddhist Congress Hall. These scholarships, amounting to Rs. 50,000 each,
for children of soldiers who have been killed or wounded in action, have
been awarded for the past four years.
For most scholarship winners it was a dream come true and nine-year-old
B. D. Chathurika Nilakshi was no exception. It has paved the way for a
brighter tomorrow. Says Chathurika's father, a past commando of the Sinha
Regiment, "It really is helpful - especially now since with my disability
there is very little that I can do to help the family."
The terms and conditions of the scholarship are such that it cannot
in any way be used by anyone other than the child. "Through the years we've
come to realize that it is always the children who are worst-affected.
This way we show them that we do care," said Ms. Suganthie Kadirgamar,
President of the ministry's Seva Vanitha Unit.
Chamodha Ashan Madawela, just four, was another recipient. His father,
a victim of a bomb blast, had fortunately survived and does some administrative
work for the army. "It's nice," was Chamodha's simple reply when asked
what he felt after collecting his scholarship from Foreign Minister Lakshman
From the happy and smiling faces of the little children who clutched
their awards tightly it was evident that this effort to say thank you to
their soldier fathers who have sacrificed much for their motherland is
the caring support they need.