A life dedicated to Buddhist women and the needy
Lady Chrysobel Rajapakse

When Lady Chrysobel Rajapakse breathed her last a few months ago, there ended a wonderful life dedicated to Buddhist women's activities and the care of the needy. She was the last surviving Founder Member of the All Ceylon Women's Buddhist Congress (ACWBC) which was established by her and a few far-seeing pioneers led by Mrs. B.S. Jayawardena in 1949.

It was through the good offices of her husband, the late Sir Lalitha Rajapakse, Minister of Justice, that the Government granted the ACWBC the spacious block of land on Bauddhaloka Mawatha to commence the organisation's social services for Buddhist women and the less fortunate.

Chryso, as her friends called her, was only 35 years at the time she began almost 60 years of association with the ACWBC - a record that has never been, or is likely to be, equalled. She was our third President and from its very inception, apart from the time she accompanied Sir Lalitha to France and Britain as Ambassador, she took an energetic interest in Congress activities. She had a 'hands-on' approach to supervising Congress activities. Though always elegantly dressed, she was ever ready to walk around building sites to inspect construction and discuss progress with 'baases' and workmen.
Lady Chrysobel was also responsible for the establishment of our Homes for Elders, first for the truly homeless and, later, paying rooms for the financially sound whose families could no longer shelter them. It was also on her inspiration that the Congress established its Hospice for the terminally ill. To the very end she kept on monitoring its progress and improving its facilities, often at personal expense. Similarly she took an interest in the establishment of our Hostel for Buddhist Working Girls to provide a safe, inexpensive and Buddhist environment for young women coming to work in the city. During her Presidency she organised two successful Kantha Melas which raised funds for our Home for the Blind. The Orphanage at Dambuwa, donated to the ACWBC by the Mudaliyar Peter Weerasekera family, was particularly close to Lady Chrysobel's heart. During the eleven years she was Convenor, this Home blossomed into a full-fledged vocational and training institute providing for the needs of the resident girls. She was much loved by the girls and staff.

Later she served as Vice President and Executive Committee Member thus continuing to provide the ACWBC with her experience and expertise. With her social and official contacts she proved to be an excellent fund raiser. She was also a generous donor to the Avurudu Pola and other undertakings and the Sir Lalitha Rajapakse Trust she established has made many donations to the ACWBC. Finally, she became an 'elder statesman' serving as a Trustee till ill-health took its toll. She has, however, imbued her family with her example and they continue their mother's good work with the ACWBC.

Apart from the ACWBC Lady Chrysobel was deeply concerned about the plight of 'Dasa Sil Mathas' - a sadly neglected segment of pious Buddhist women. She was a founder and Patron of the Dhammacharini organisation to look after their welfare. Today, the ACWBC marks with great sadness the loss of its last Founding Mother and great benefactor Lady Chrysobel Rajapakse. May this noble lady attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

Indrani Devendra, Immediate Past President ACWBC

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