things more clearly
Wonderful Life Energiser, a body
of creative youth came up with a novel idea to commemorate ‘International
White Cane Day’. Marisa de Silva reports
Amidst the customary
practises organised to commemorate ‘International White Cane
Day’ (October 15), such as walks and holding up placards demanding
equal rights and better opportunities for the visually impaired,
there was something different that took place this year…
was a walk, which was also a first hand experience of what it’s
like to be visually impaired and how perfect strangers can lend
a helping hand. A relatively new, yet very active NGO named ‘Wonderful
Life Energiser’ (WLE), comprises an energetic and enthusiastic
young team specialising in community development via the use of
logo, a ‘Kurumbatti Machine’, captures the very essence
of the organisation, as it’s a mix of creativity, fun, nature
and technology, said Prasad Jayasingha, Executive Director, WLE.
weather wasn’t very encouraging, as it was relatively gloomy
and overcast, but that by no means dampened the spirit of these
young ‘movers and shakers’, aged from 18-30.
once the weather eased up and a crowd of about 40 supporters, of
all ages and walks of life had assembled outside the BMICH main
gate, the organisers set to work. Firstly, the group was lined up
in pairs and one of the two, in each pair was blindfolded, while
white canes were also distributed.
one not blindfolded was supposed to guide his/her partner all the
way up to the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, where the walk was
ending up. This not only helped build a bond between two strangers
but it also helped to break the inhibitions or reservations one
might have when debating whether or not to lend a helping hand.
particularly enthusiastic young lad vehemently insisted that his
partner not hold on to his arm unless it was absolutely necessary,
as it would take away from the reality of the whole experience.
further explained how WLE mainly focused on cost effective, creative
model programmes with solutions to everyday social issues as he
felt that “lectures don’t work.”
instance, organising a walk of this nature has a two-pronged approach,
he said. One, to experience first hand the obstacles and issues
visually impaired persons deal with on a day-to-day basis and being
sensitive to their needs, and two, taking that extra step to help
someone in need, breaking down inhibitions and barriers. If any
other institution or organisation invites the WLE to come up with
a programme for a specific theme, they can do it, said Prasad, enthusiastically.
first initiative a book titled A Beautiful Mind, based on personal
development, deals with the WLE motto, “Developing oneself
whilst at the same time developing the society,” explained
Prasad. Yet another unique aspect of this organisation is that their
actions are in tally with their inner workings.
obtained his Masters in Sinhala, Mahesh Ratnasiri, the vice president
of the WLE, is presently a trainee teacher in Sinhala and Buddhist
Civilisation and is also visually impaired.
his energetic ‘go-getter’ attitude and insight with
regard to many social issues, WLE made him an office bearer and
valued his input into the activities of the organisation, said Mahesh
with pride. “It’s not often that we get opportunities
like this in our country,” he said adding, “so it was
with great happiness and enthusiasm that I took on this post, to
help make a difference in our society.”
further stated that the fifteen-member organisation cuts across
all racial, caste and religious boundaries, making it one big multi-racial,
religious, close unit. Yet another aspect they take very seriously
is ensuring that there’s no hierarchical preference when it
comes to the decision making process.
of our ideas come from some of the youngest and newest members of
our group,” quipped Mahesh and Prasad, simultaneously. Most
organisations rarely get ideas from those in the lower rungs, resulting
in a waste of creative ideas and productive thoughts, said Prasad.
“This is one thing we can surely say never happens, because
we make a conscious effort to have group discussions, ‘brain
storm’ together and make unanimous decisions as far as possible,”
he said. “Our members are the heart of the organisation,”
said Mahesh, summing it all up.