Murali’s ‘Othes One’
You know about his bowling hand, but not about his helping hand
By Marisa de Silva
His exploits on the field are legendary and all Sri Lankans cheer him on whenever he runs in to bowl. But there's a side to spin wizard Muttiah Muralidaran that even his most ardent fans may be unaware of - his burning desire to help the needy.

"When we have, we should give, because when we die we don't take anything with us," says the King of Spin. And true to this philosophy, Murali is the joint founder of the Muralidaran-Gunasekera Foundation (MGF), a service-oriented organisation set up to help the underprivileged.

The MGF was launched two years ago when Kushil Gunasekera, Murali's Manager and co-founder of the MGF, asked him to distribute essential items to some children in the Seenigama village. Murali was keen to do more for the less fortunate and so began MGF.

Murali donated the entire proceeds of his Hameedia's advertising campaign to launch the project and from then onwards there was no turning back. "The beauty of life does not depend on how happy you are but on how happy others are because of you" was their slogan. Kushil himself has always had a passion for helping people and is actively involved in many other charities apart from the MGF.

The MGF's service projects are varied. They include providing English and computer lessons to children and youth, creating self-employment opportunities for those in rural areas, organising sports events, supporting elders, donating essential school items to children and building health care and nutritional institutions.

That their efforts have touched the lives of many is evident from the many notes and letters they receive. Wrote young K. D. Sunil Shantha from Weerawila, "I was so inspired after receiving your donation to cover all my educational expenses including the boarding fees on account of the Advanced Level examination, especially from our national hero. This has made me more determined to achieve outstanding results making your investment in me, more worthwhile".

Daily they get numerous appeals from people across the country: from young talented sports people seeking assistance to either buy equipment or tour abroad to those in need of immediate aid for health problems. There are also requests to provide financial assistance to university students. However, both Kushil and Murali emphasised that they always check back on each appeal that they receive, instead of blindly doling out money. More often than not, the appeals are legitimate and genuine, says Kushil.

On hearing about young Dulanjali, who was born without arms but, displayed a tremendous ability with the organ and the computer by using her feet, the MGF went in search of her to ask if she was in need of anything in particular.
Once her wish was granted, Dulanjani, a resident of MarcSri Children's Home in Kalutara wrote:

"Dear Murali Aiyya,
"I am very happy I can print this letter on my computer because of the cartridges you sent me. I enjoyed watching the cartoon VCDs you sent me. I thank you both very much. I watch your cricket matches on the TV.
"Dear Murali aiyya, you are fine. CONGRATULATIONS!
"God Bless!"
Sriyani Karunatilleke, another beneficiary of MGF, expressed her gratitude in these words:

"You came to our rescue when we had absolutely no idea how to find funds to treat our daughter suffering from a nerve disorder. Thanks to you, she has made some progress."

The future of the MGF depends on the funding it gets. Murali adds that he can always raise funds for the MGF and as long as generous donors are willing to contribute towards the fund, it should be able to continue its good work. "I like to do my bit, even in my own little way because there are so many people out there who are desperately in need of a helping hand," says the spin wizard.

Those who would like to learn more about or contribute towards these charities could contact Kushil Gunasekera on or visit their website at

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