Sanga’s Best Partnership with FoG Delivers 2000 Bikes To The North
"When your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme." Jiminy Cricket.
In January of 2011, the Foundation of Goodness made a presentation of essential school supply packs to 200 disadvantaged children in Mankulam so that they could commence their school year with eagerness. It was then, that that the Commanding Officer of the Task Force 3, Brigadier Ralph Nugera made a humble request.
He inquired as to whether the FoG could make available 25 bicycles, to empower the families who were just beginning to rebuild their lives. This exciting challenge was taken up enthusiastically and in 2 hours we were able to execute this task by way of generous individual donors. Since the journey to Colombo is quite a long one of at least 7-8 hours our compassion extended beyond that target to reach 50 bicycles by the time we arrived in Colombo.
A week later the number had risen to 100, surpassing the expectation of the Brigadier and we thought this was an amazing landmark we had accomplished amongst family, friends, well-wishers and colleagues at the FoG itself.
As the day dawned to deliver the gifts happiness filled our hearts, over flowing in abundance, and this event itself humbled us at seeing the joy of these beneficiaries. This meant that their children would no longer have to suffer long distances on foot, attending school, purchasing groceries or gathering firewood.
Such feelings compelled us to secure the next 100 bicycles, illustrating that nothing multiplies so much as kindness. As we write this article, the number in under 18 months had risen to 2075 bicycles which have been delivered to an equal number of students/ families.
The distribution covered the regions of Mankulam, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya, and as the donors received more and more visual feedback, the word began to spread, especially with the power of the purity of our intentions; being compassionate and humane.
Then came the biggest bonus with the legendary cricket icon Kumar Sangakkara teaming up with the Foundation of Goodness to take the campaign beyond our target of 1000, to make it double with his systematically planned approach.
Kumar Sangakkara’s cricket management team and the FoG worked hand in glove to arrange many events with Kumar being the centre of attraction, and the way he communicated the message meant that it ingrained itself in the hearts of so many donors and motivated them to contribute spontaneously towards this grand effort. With the momentum that gathered, Kumar decided to visit Kilinochchi in January 2012 to present 300 bicycles that he had raised of his own and the students were smiling broadly not because of the bicycles, but because they were able to shake hands with the cricketing legend.
We’ve had some outstanding donors who backed Kumar with 100 plus bikes, but the biggest single contribution came from a hugely successful gentleman from Los Angeles by the name of Chandramohan when Murali and Kushil attended an impressive banquet in August 2011 hosted by him in aid of the Foundation of Goodness North endeavours.
At this function, when it was mentioned on the 9th of August that 300 bikes had been given in 2011 not without painstaking effort, and the target was to deliver 1000 by the end of 2011, he walked up to Murali and Kushil to write a cheque in meeting the target of the balance 700 bikes at a cost of USD 70,000 which by any standard is not only admirable but also a rare fete for one single individual.
Another amazing story that captured our hearts was the way in which British volunteer architect Ms. Kim Wright, together with two fellow countrymen Rebecca Malcolm and Cherry Briggs initiated a bike ride from Seenigama to Mankulam covering 400 km plus over the period of just four days to raise awareness for the great need of providing bicycles to the North. This endeavour helped to secure 200 bikes. This is undoubtedly a one of a kind and extraordinary undertaking which was taken by three British girls whose compassion saw no boundaries.
As of now, we are planning the next phase of this worthy cause to deliver another 500 bicycles adding up to a grand total of 2500. Kids who have stayed away from school are now happily attending classes to pursue their education and in the process the whole family is empowered because three can ride on one of the ‘weeraya’ bikes engaged in multitasking to rebuild their lives speedily. Nothing great is ever achieved without that first step, and as we never gave up in looking ahead, staying positive and doing the best we can it has been a worthwhile exercise beneficial to mankind, paving the way for greater reconciliation and peace.
All this would not have materialised if not for caring donors, some wishing to remain ofcourse, anonymous but it is our duty to acknowledge those who gave magnanimously to donate 100 bicycles at once, as follows;
- Mr. Channa Abeygunawardena of Touchwood Investments PLC, Colombo
- Mr. and Mrs. Ananda and Sriya Fernando, Sultanate of Oman
- Mr. Ru Weerasuriya, Ready at Dawn Studios, CA, USA
- Mr. and Mrs. Tony Matharu, Grange Hotels LTD, London
- Marylebone Cricket Club
As the saying goes, we make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give. More importantly, owing to the conflict coming to an end, and with the dawn of a peaceful atmosphere the Foundation of Goodness who originates from the south were able to uplift our brothers and sisters in North to fast track their development.
Kumar Sangakkara continues with this the unbroken partnership, exceeding the world record of the longest partnership on the field which he has held with his best mate Mahela Jayawardena and it is this partnership which we believe to be far more noble, because of the happiness that has been derived by those who benefited. Mahela too is still in the partnership having gifted 10 schools with 40 brand new cricket bags and 10 matting tracks for the development and sustenance of cricket in the North which is taking good shape as well, with children and youth actively engaged in a sport that unites our nation.
The Foundation of Goodness in the last 18 months has served 6000 families in the short term in improving their quality of life through many different productive initiatives. Muthiah Muralidaran, the bowling superstar, single-handedly ensured that 1000 children received a complete school package each, including shoes and uniforms to facilitate their education.
Foundation of Goodness wish to acknowledge gratefully each and every stakeholder for joining hands with us to make the change that we aspire to achieve by investing in goodness that never fails.
"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world." - Joel Barker