ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 9, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 41

Compassion from the flames of blast for street children

Indrakhilaya commemorates the 12th Anniversary of the Central Bank attack

Surrounded by a hillock there's an extent of land at Meegoda. Over the hill is a building built at three different levels. This is the children's home – "Meegoda Sanhinda Nikethanaya", where the Central Bank association, Indrakhilaya, commemorated the victims of the January 31, 1996 terror attack.

The 12th anniversary ceremony started with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp at 10.30 a.m. Ten boys from the Home welcomed the guests and the picture of Prof. Ratnapala Nandasena, the founder of the home, was garlanded.

Among the chief guests were former Central Bank governors A.S. Jayawardena and H.B. Dissanayake. A two-minute silence was observed at 10.43 a.m. to honour dead colleagues. An impressive sermon was delivered by Ven. Meegoda Mangala Thera. Then the little children performed the 'Aloka Poojawa' in a solemn manner.

Aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Central Bank in 1996

With the help of the "Senior Ladies Association" of the Central Bank, three toilets were built and a water tank was provided. Some beds and a computer were also donated. The Bank of Ceylon (BOC) also joined Indrakhilaya’s efforts to help the children. Arrangements were made to donate the BOC’s ‘Ran Kekulu’ savings accounts to the children.

After the ceremony the children entertained the audience with singing and dancing, thus proving that "environment is the deciding factor of one's life.""Sanhinda Lama Nikethanaya" was the brainchild of Prof. Ratnapala when he was doing research on the street children of Colombo. He noticed that these children were conceived, born and growing up in the dirty streets. Their playground was the pavement. He also realized that unless these children were helped they could end up as criminals.

Moved by compassion, he viewed these children as dirt clad little buds of Olu, Nelum and Manel in their innocence. His aim was to shift them to an environment where they would bloom into law abiding citizens with beautiful characters. His vision was to give them a home where they would develop their physical, mental and spiritual faculties under the guidance and administration of trained people.

For this purpose he gathered a group of his former students, now teachers who could feel for these unwanted helpless children. A benevolent approach with a philanthropic mind can only perform such a noble task. In 1996 the 'Meegoda Sanhinda Nikethanaya' was built. Dr. Praneeth Abeysundara was appointed Chairman and Ranjith Wilwalarachchi Secretary. They are keen on transforming these children into people whom we will be proud of. The home has 42 boys and 20 girls. Developing their inborn talents and teaching them good moral values may help them to achieve successful future lives.

Yet the home lacks so many things. Ten to 12 days a month they receive alms for meals. It's a struggle for the rest of the days. The girls who live in a rented house need a building of their own.

It is now upto the public to help make Prof. Nandasena Ratnapala’s dream come true. For further details contact Dharshana, Tel: 060 2173082 (Meegoda Home).

By Berney Fernando

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