Plus - Appreciation

Guiding light and inspiration to the girls and young women of Lanka

Sita Rajasuriya

Mrs. Sita Rajasuriya passed away peacefully on September 24, 2009. She has left us for good, but she will live on in the hearts of the thousands who were influenced by her exemplary life.

My memories of Mrs. Sita Rajasuriya date back to the days when I was a student at Visakha Vidyalaya. Mrs Rajasuriya was a Guide Captain at Visakha at the time, and she enrolled me as a Girl Guide. Under her steady leadership and guidance, we participated in Girl Guide events organised in Colombo and at the national level.

In the late 1950s, Lady Olave Baden-Powell, the World Chief Guide, visited Sri Lanka, and it was she who identified Mrs. Sita Rajasuriya as the person most capable of taking charge of Girl Guiding in our country. While flying over Sri Pada, Lady Baden-Powell held Mrs Rajasuriya's hand and made her promise that she would accept the responsibility.

So it was that when Ms. Edna Alwis, the first Sri Lankan Chief Commissioner, completed her term of office, Mrs. Rajasuriya took on the job of Chief Commissioner of the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association, a role she carried out with great success.

During Mrs. Rajasuriya's term of office, Girl Guiding was introduced to the rural parts of the country, and community service was incorporated into the Guide programme.

Guiding was introduced to the inmates of the House of Detention, in Gangodawila; a Little Friends Pack was started at the Khan Memorial Ward, and a branch for handicapped Girl Guides (now known as the Branch for the Differently Abled) was opened.

Mrs Rajasuriya was a firm believer that Girl Guides should join hands and work with other organisations that are service-oriented and promoted moral standards. This resulted in our working with the Rodiya communities in Manawa and Kanatoluwa, joining hands with Dr A. T. Ariyaratna and the Jatika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya, and Dr. Lakman de Silva and the Saukyadana Movement.

In all that she did, Mrs Rajasuriya was the personification of dedication and commitment. Quietly but steadily, she served the girls and young women of Sri Lanka, leading the way with dignity and simplicity. She was humble but firm in the decisions she took.

Mrs Rajasuriya also held her own in the arena of World Guiding. She was the first Sri Lankan to be elected to the World Committee of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), and she was the first and only Asian to chair a Guides World Conference. She was also the first chairman of the Asia Pacific Region, WAGGGS.

She was involved in setting up a World Centre in Asia, the Sangam, in Pune, India. The first Asia Pacific Training Pool was also established during her term of office.

These are some of the many achievements of Mrs. Sita Rajasuriya, who led a successful and exemplary life. She left us at the age of 93 on September 24, 2009.

May she attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

Venetia Gamage

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