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Thriving Despite Difficult Pasts: Mother Sri Lanka

2020 Sep 15

“There was an acute lack of positive thinking and whoever had the means, were looking for ways to leave the country and ‘abandon ship’ so to speak. I felt deeply, the need to do something to make Sri Lankans believe in Sri Lanka and themselves, that together we could seek the light at the end of the tunnel.  This is what inspired me to start the movement for our very own Mother Sri Lanka”.

The year 2008 in Sri Lanka was an ugly one. With the war raging at its last stages, bloodshed was rampant and chaos was spreading. Hope had faded into the faintest of sparks for its people, with many planning to leave the country to escape the destruction. 

Realisation struck Dr. Janaki Kuruppu, Chairperson of the Mother Sri Lanka trust, that Lankans needed an incentive to restore their faith in the nation in order for everyone to seek the light at the end of the tunnel. Mother Sri Lanka sprung to life, an organisation that aims to “build responsible citizens” and encourages people to give back to their motherland. 12 years after its birth, the movement is still going strong. 

Dr Janaki Kuruppu at the opening of the Mother Sri Lanka Showroom

“Mother Sri Lanka is a journey of love. Our main focus is on building ‘Responsible Citizens’, which covers a broad scope of areas such as Unity, National Pride and Empowering Entrepreneurs. I guess when you do something with pure, genuine intentions, you cannot go wrong, that’s a lesson I have learnt from all of my life experiences,” shared Dr. Janaki.

Now, in the times of COVID-19, Dr Janaki discussed how similar the setting feels to when they started the organisations more than a decade ago. 

“We are in a situation that we have to almost start again, due to the impact of COVID-19. So, to me, it’s like deja vu.  Now once again people are talking about ‘Re-starting Sri Lanka’ and buying ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ and so on.  We have been promoting these concepts for the last 12 years, so I would encourage any person or organisation that is thinking on similar lines, to come and support us to take this movement – Mother Sri Lanka – to greater heights and there is no need to ‘re-invent the wheel’”.

Dr. Janaki’s dedication and iron-will towards making Sri Lankans feel empowered again has helped 2 million children, youth and adults, totalling 20 million people. All of this was achieved with a small team, with total funding from sponsors and without any significant infrastructure of their own.

“We are all born in a particular country for a reason and I don’t think there is any country in the world who gives free education up to university, free health, subsidised transport systems, utility services etc. all while still being a developing country. There are so many blessings in our country, the natural beauty, the fertile land, the comfortable weather, so on, we should learn to appreciate and protect them”. 

The recent opening of Mother Sri Lanka showroom gives budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their merchandise, while also giving them access to markets, guiding them in design, packaging and marketing of their products. The process also helps to protect local craft industries such as brass, cane, lace, rush and reed, pottery, woodwork, handloom, batik and more. 

“Currently, we are supporting over 125 such craftspeople covering over 5000 families in 8 districts and we are continuously upgrading the products and expanding the network of suppliers.

About 70% of the entrepreneurs we are supporting are women, so this income helps them to earn money in a dignified manner while being close to their children,” 

Mother Sri Lanka’s passion runs deeper when it comes to the youth of the nation. 

The organisation currently works with over 2000 schools, where children design and implement projects that help to improve the community they live in.  This also helps them realise that they can also contribute to improving the country by giving them a sense of responsibility. Encultating a genuine pride of what it means to be Sri Lankan in the younger generations can ensure a legacy that is certain to withstand the test of time. 

“They are the ones who will take over the country after us. We need to instil in them what is authentic about our Motherland at a very young age because otherwise they are fast becoming followers of the West and losing authenticity.  There is nothing wrong with adapting to good things that come from the West, but in doing so, we cannot lose what is genuinely ‘Sri Lankan’”. 

If you wish to donate to Mother Sri Lanka or join the organisation as a volunteer, visit www.mothersrilanka.lk