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A tribute to real heroes

15 June 2016 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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In an era where people live with no respect for  humanity, it was indeed a privilege to witness individuals bringing out the true meaning of compassion without letting bravery remain as a mere tale. To admire the people who risked their lives to help others, the Foundation of Civilian Bravery in collaboration with Janashakthi Insurance PLC organised the 22nd National Civilian Bravery Awards ceremony recently. 


The ceremony was attended by Pakistan High Commissioner General Hussain, Central Province Minister Sarath Ekanayake, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation President Indrani Sugathadasa, Janashakthi Insurance PLC President General Hussain Yusuf Ali, Wijeya Newspapers Brands and Promotions Assistant General Manager Sujith Pathirannehe and many other distinguished personalities. 


While the Civilian Bravery Foundation was established in 1993, they have since then recognized and awarded 350 brave civilians. The inaugural ceremony was held in 1994 at the Kalutara Gangasiri  Temple to pay respect to the sailor Seneris who had sacrificed his life to save five others. 


While presenting the heartfelt gratitude to all those who supported this worthy cause, Civilian Bravery Foundation President Kasun P. Chandrarathna mentioned the name of famous actress Pooja Umashankar. She is said to have financially assisted the foundation when they were short of a sum of two lakhs. It was not the money but the gesture that mattered. However, during that time span, the foundation managed to connect with Janashakthi PLC, with the support of Pooja. And as a result, they were together able to organise a stunning National Civilian Bravery Awards ceremony.


Pooja Umashankar had mentioned that there were so many ceremonies alike in India, and it had moved her to encourage the locals more towards these national causes. 


Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of Janashakthi Insurance PLC Jude Pranandu cheerfully proclaimed that they managed to take part in this ceremony.


“Humanity means a Philosophy, and also a great commitment. These are the people who have added reality to it.” He specially expressed that the Janashakthi Insurance PLC would readily support the brave citizens in years to come.  “Bravery is the jewel of upper class,” initiator of foundation Mr. Kasun P. Chandrarathna asserted. He brought out how they were able to go beyond that social expectation and respect real heroes who risked their lives in order to save others. He proved that bravery was not solely supposed to kings to keep their status in the society, but to anyone who could bravely oblige in a noteworthy cause.


Though President Maithripala Sirisena was unable to mark his presence at the ceremony, arrangements were made for Minister Sarath Ekanayake to read the president’s speech. He stated that the sheer hard work of brave civilians was commendable. These ceremonies truly inform people that there is still hope in a hopeless era.  


Meanwhile, Pakistan High commissioner General Hussain Yusuf Ali lauded the measures taken by the foundation to empower the community. He pointed out that according to Indian teachings; the general view of the society was to assist those who were in need of help.  Deeming that civilian bravery knows no ethnic, social or religious boundaries, the foundation makes its selection from everyday Sri Lankan citizens. In their 22nd year, they invite people across the island to apply, or nominate another, for brave acts engaged in from January 1 to December 31 in the year 2015. 


Selected by a distinguished panel of judges on June 9 this year, the foundation was able to award 12 brave civilians. They are W.H.G. Wikramathilaka, A.M. Ajith Nishantha, H.G. Nuwan Kumara, K. Sujeewa, U.R.S. Nayanapriya Sampath, J.R.U. Keerthisena, Romesh Maduwantha Abeysekara, D.M.S.D. Lakshan, Asala Jayasinghe (Deceased), A.M. Gamini Munasinghe, Ranjith Amarajeewa and R.G.S.P. Kumara. They were presented with the awards of National Civilian Bravery, Civilians Bravery Philanthropy, Civilians Bravery Fauna/Flora and Civilian Bravery Life. 


The individuals Ranjith Amarajeewa and R.G.S.P. Kumara were presented with the Wirujana Swarna Mudrika Award for saving the lives of seven persons. While they had been walking beside the road near Yoda Ela, an overloaded trishaw lost control and fell into the lake. They witnessed three children being carried away by the rough waters. Without delay, they immediately jumped into the water and saved the children. Not only children, but they also were able to rescue four others who had been inside the sinking trishaw. 

 

 


For the sake of the world’s precious property, the self-made businessman A.M. Gamini Munasinghe was able to pawn his own house and donate Rs. five million worth ICU to the Nikaweratiya Hospital. After discussing with hospital authorities, he donated Rs. 275,000 to purchase an Oxygen conserving device for the premature infants unit in the hospital. His generosity did not stop there. He further donated Rs.2,500 each to five medical students as well as to Buddhist monks for their education. Admiring the noble acts of A.M. Gamini Munasinghe, he was presented with the National Civilian Bravery Award. 


Police officers H.G. Nuwan Kumara, K. Sujeewan, U.R.S. Nayanapriya Sampath and J.R.U. Keerthisena were able to prove the right of an animal to live. It was not their official duty, but the humanity within them had steered them to rescue a drowned elephant in the Ampara Ambalan Tank. They were presented with the Civilian Braver Fauna/Flora Award for proving the worth of an innocent life. 


There were five other brave civilians selected for the Viru Jana Rajatha Mudrika Award. The Janashakthi Insurance PLC offered them a one pound gold medal along with a certificate. 
It was precious to see another bold man coming forward to save a mother of three. During heavy floods, Agri Research officer Mahesha Dilhani was on her way to help the farmers whose crops had been destroyed. While walking on a wooden bridge, she slipped and fell into the Magedara Kadamalu lake. Seeing this, another person by the name of Wikramathilaka who was nearby immediately jumped into the water to save a life. Fighting against the rough waves in the lake, he was able to hold her. He was later presented with the Viru Jana Rajatha Mudrika Award for proving himself a real hero. 
The next is an attempt of a son who proved the strong relationship between a mother and a child.

When Romesh Maduwantha Abeysekara saw a crocodile trying to make his mother a pray, he jumped into the water, swam towards the crocodile and put his arm inside its mouth before it could grab his mother’s leg. The great love for the mother made him determined even to fight a crocodile. He was also presented with the Viru Jana Rajatha Mudrika Award. 


Another is an incident where Sampath Darshana Lakshan who was walking towards the Kanthale dam saw a boat toppled. He straight away jumped into the thirty-foot deep river for the sake of some unknown people. After undergoing great difficulty, he was able to save the lives of two persons though one drowned in the water. It was proud to see people like Lakshan who had added reality to humanity. He too was presented with the Viru Jana Rajatha Mudrika Award. 


A.M. Ajith Nishantha was also presented with the Viru Jana Rajatha Mudrika Award for his bravery. He had rescued a man drowning in the Ampara dam. Nishantha was a policeman. When he was on duty, he heard someone crying for help. When he looked around, he saw a man drowning. By making the surrounding crowd only onlookers, he jumped into the water filled with crocodiles and saved a 20-year-old. 


Meanwhile, the security officer Asala Jayasinghe sacrificed his life to stop a robbery that was to happen in a private bank in Kekirawa. Asala noticed a man suspiciously rushing into the bank. He attempted to stop the suspect thinking that he might do some damage. Avoiding the interruption, the suspect forced himself into the bank. However, in Asala’s struggle to save his workplace, he had to sacrifice his life to a grenade that was released by the suspected man. Asala was admired by Civilian Bravery Foundation for his priceless gesture. However, his wife was invited to accept the Viru Jana Rajatha Mudrika Award.  

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