Thousands of walkers reached the finishing point as Trail’s 28-day journey from Point Pedro in the North to Dondra in the South of Sri Lanka came to an end.
You can see for yourselves, the tremendous amounts of people who gathered together to give countless others better lives;
The extraordinary success of the event has been a truly inspiring one along this journey to raise five million dollars towards building a new cancer facility at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital in Galle. Trail 2016 saw Sri Lankans from all walks of life and even visiting tourists to the Island unite together for a common cause. Over 70,000 walkers raised nearly $3 million thus far. And 40 million rupees in till collections alone on the road over the 28 days.
For a country that has come out of a 30-year civil war just seven years ago, Trail’s aim has been to unite communities across the country whilst carrying the message of hope to those battling cancer or those who have lost a loved one to this terrible disease.
Throughout the 28 days, the walkers were overwhelmed by the inherent generosity and empathy of the Sri Lankan people. There were school children who gave away their piggy banks or day’s pocket money, way-side vendors who gave their day’s earnings and even beggars who gave their collections, and people along the way providing refreshments touching the hearts of the walkers. Along this journey were also several corporates sponsoring and donating to Trail to reach the goal of five million dollars.
“The contributions and participation by the people have been overwhelming. It makes us feel really good. This is the kind of support and awareness we envisioned to have for this initiative. We wanted everyone to know that we are walking for a cause which will help all Sri Lankans” said MahelaJayawardena, Director of the Colours of Courage Trust. He further added, “We will continue to push ourselves to raise funds to help patients with different needs.”
Trail 2016 was certainly no hike. The journey was challenging as anyone who took part would say. Yet the scorching heat and humidity nor the downpour of rains and slippery muddy roads did not deter the thousands of people who braved all odds to show their solidarity.
Trail 2016 owes its success in no small measure to its brand ambassadors and many other eminent personalities as the road in front of them gradually shrank from the 670 km till they reached Dondra Head, the southernmost point in Sri Lanka. “We were completely overwhelmed by the spontaneous and warm support of the public along the way,” said Kumar Sangakkara. “They were the real brand ambassadors.”
Co-founder of Trail, Sarinda Unamboowe had pledged that if the civil war were to end, he would walk the length of his homeland as a commitment to peace, and Nathan Sivagananathan who was touched by a personal loss to cancer and felt this walk was the most impactful way to help those battling this disease.
“It is a matter of personal satisfaction for me to have walked from south to north during TrailSL 2011 and from north to south during TrailSL 2016,” said SarindaUnamboowe. “It is great to see people transformed from a war mind-set to one of peace and sharing, as we have seen all along the way.”
“With the funds collected from TrailSL 2011, we were able to build a state-of-the-art cancer hospital in Tellippalai, Jaffna,” said Nathan Sivagananathan. “With TrailSL 2016 I’m confident that our dream of a state-of the-art cancer hospital in Galle will soon be a reality.”
Corporate donors have in no small measure contributed to taking the amount raised to beyond 58% of the target. TrailSL is confident that many more corporate donors will come forward in the days ahead.
There were many without whose help this success would not have been achieved. Trail Blazers, Pathfinders, Day Trekkers, Virtual Walkers, Media Institutions, Government Agencies, the Tri-Forces & Police; others too numerous to be named. Each contribution is as valuable as all others in bringing relief to the thousands suffering from cancer.
Established in 1982, the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital is the third largest national hospital in the country and the most accessed healthcare centre in the south of Sri Lanka. In 2015, the hospital recorded its highest number of cancer related deaths even as the national incidence is on the rise. In addition, it has seen a dramatic influx of patients traveling from the surrounding provinces to seek treatment.
At present, cancer patients have to wait one or two years to undergo surgery at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital. The hospital’s two oncologists perform between 300 – 500 consultations per day while there is an 8 – 10 week waiting time for urgent surgeries even though 60 operations are conducted per week. The hospital receives 4,500 new cancer patients every year.
More needs to be done and Trail SL 2016 looks forward to all its donors and supporters being actively associated with them until the hospital is built and opened for public use. The word needs to be spread so that the targeted funds are raised.
“We believe that all of you will be a part of this until we build the hospital and hand it over to the public,” said Nathan Sivagananathan.
“The goodwill created among people of all walks of life needs to be nurtured so that peace will continue to prevail and be the momentum for a united country,” Sarinda Unamboowe added. “Humanity should prevail.”
To all who joined and helped in making the walk a memorable one, Trail SL 2016 says Thank You! The TrailSL 2016 website will be kept open for everyone to continue to be engaged and for the donations of those who may not have yet had the opportunity of giving.
Share more of your #trailasone stories on your favourite social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Snapchat and let the world know that we are all human beings who care for each other above all else.
As former Captain of the Sri Lanka National Cricket team and Brand Ambassador Mahela Jayawardena said, “Cancer is not a death sentence and if we have more facilities we could save a lot more lives.”