Today is the United Nations international volunteer day for economic and social development. The Sri Lankan media -- instead of giving so much publicity to dishonest and crafty rogue politicians -- should spotlight everyday people who are making extraordinary efforts to change the community, the country or even the world.
An inspiring example of this is the Heroes of the Year contest conducted by the popular worldwide television channel Cable and News Network better known as CNN. Last year the winner of the top award was Chad Pregracke, an Illinois man who has dedicated his life to cleaning the Mississippi River and other US waterways.
Mr. Pregracke organises community cleanups across the country through his nonprofit, Living Lands and Waters. About 70,000 volunteers have pitched in, helping Mr. Pregracke to collect more than sevenmillion pounds of trash in the past 15 years.
This year, the CNN Hero of the Year is Pen Farthing, who founded a nonprofit movement that reunites soldiers at home with stray dogs and cats they took in during combat.
“There is no stronger bond between man and dog than that formed during war,” Farthing said. The announcement was made at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, where Anderson Cooper hosted “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.”
In 2006, when Farthing helped break up a dogfight in the town of Nowzad in Afghanistan, the Royal Marine sergeant did not think much of it. The war-torn town was overrun with dogs.
But when one of those dogs followed Farthing back to base, it was soon hard to tell who rescued whom.
Farthing named his new friend “Nowzad,” and as a result of his struggle to bring Nowzad home to his native England the next year, Farthing founded Nowzad Dogs to help other soldiers whose lives were turned around by the animals they befriended in war-torn towns.
The 2014 Top 10 were nominated by CNN’s worldwide audience. The winner was selected at the conclusion of six weeks of public voting.
In addition to the US$25,000 that each of the 2014 Top 10 CNN Heroes received, Mr. Farthing will be awarded US$100,000 for his cause.
In Sri Lanka during the past few years the political culture has degenerated and it has to a large extent become a huge profit making business with the politics of business compounded by business politics. Since the dramatic November 21 crossover of Sri Lanka Freedom Party stalwart Maithripala Sirisena to be the opposition’s common candidate at the January 8 presidential election the people have been hearing story after story of the plunder and pillage of the people’s money and resources.
The latest was on Wednesday during a popular TV debate. A caller during the debate asked a government minister about serious charges made against him by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. The JVP leader charged that the Minister’s separated wife had filed a maintenance case claiming a staggering Rs.500 million as compensation and Rs.50 million as alimony. The JVP leader alleged that the minister had said he was already paying Rs.1.2 million a month as maintenance to his estranged wife. Mr. Dissanayake said that if someone of the status of a ‘halmessa’ was making so much the people could not even imagine how much the political ‘moras’ and ‘thoras’ were making. Angered by this call from a person watching the interactive dialogue, the minister walked out accusing the moderator of exposing him to mudslinging. The show was stopped abruptly.
From this and scores of others cases of plunder and wrongdoing exposed these days, it is clear that most politicians have come to grab from the people and not to give. The hallowed principle of servant leadership is dead and buried. Therefore the time has come for the people who really love this country and want to serve it to come forward and work on a volunteer basis for the common good of the people and the country.