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188th birth anniversery of Charles Henry De Soysa on March 3rd His Generosity in the Field of Philanthropy is Unparalleled!

24 February 2024 01:34 am - 9     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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De Soysa Hospital for Women

 

  • Through time immemorial, legends woven about him have been related within and outside the family
  • He was a generous person and memories of him are associated with health, education and agriculture 
  • Charles was considered to be visionary, who was well ahead of his time
  • His statue stands tall at De Soysa Circus

Charles Henry De Soysa’s benefactions are many and varied, but the crown of all these is widely considered to be the donation of the land and building erected for the De Soysa Hospital for Women, which has been of immense benefit to several millions of mothers for more than a hundred years.   

 It was a great blow to Ceylon as it was called then in that era when the late Charles Henry De Soysa died. 
He was and still is undoubtedly the greatest philanthropist in our nation’s history as his record of extraordinary largesse remains unparalleled. March 3rd this year marks his 188th birth anniversary.
 He is a legend, whose memories live on not only in the hearts and minds of his descendants, but in the many institutions including hospitals and schools he gifted to the country, and the descendant of the landless to whom he gifted hundreds of acres. Through time immemorial, legends about him woven through the passage of time have been related within and outside the family. His generosity was shown mainly in the fields of health, education and agriculture which underscore that he was a visionary well ahead of his time. These are unquestionably, the most important fields to focus on, as his name is even widely recognised today.


His descendants and others who respect and revere his memory, pay homage to him at his statue which stands tall at De Soysa Circus. It’s time too, to reflect on who he was and what he did.
 Charles’s father, Jeronis was an abstemious business magnate, hence was able to amass a considerable fortune which was more than trebled by Charles Henry, who possessed remarkable business acumen.
 Charles Henry De Soysa began his education at S. Thomas’ College when it began at Mutwal. His benefactions are many and varied, but the crown of all these is widely considered to be the donation of the land and building erected for the De Soysa Hospital for Women, which has been of immense benefit to several millions of mothers for more than a hundred years. This generous act shows the amazing foresight of the late Charles Henry De Soysa for what was a great need at that particular moment in time. His other benefaction of paramount importance as it concerns youth and education was the vast acreage donated for the erection of the necessary buildings, playing fields, etc for Prince and Princess of Wales Colleges, whose students have adorned the corridors of power in Church, State Universities, as Captains of Industries and entrepreneurs. His objective was to ensure that the youth of his home town Moratuwa, would have an education of equal status as those in popular schools in the country. The greatest tributes paid to him even today come from students past and present of these two schools, who spare neither time nor expense in paying tribute to his memory; remembering him with great appreciation and respect. 
He was an Anglican, but had no religious or racial prejudice and gave most generously to other religions too. He built churches, temples and kovils and was known to be a just and kind employer who helped the underprivileged, the differently-abled, and even provided dowries to those who couldn’t afford to do so for their daughters. He gave land to the landless even far away from his home town. He gave a vast acreage to the British Government for a Model Farm in Colombo which now houses the Golf Club and many palatial residences. He donated funds to hospitals in the UK including to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, and my father was surprised to find his grandfather’s name on a panel stating this, when he interned there; he was also bestowed a singular honour, of being elected an honorary member of the Atheneum, which is said to be the oldest and most prestigious club in London to which few Asians were admitted to at that time. His generosity to his fellow human beings and nation covered all the primary needs of man from the cradle to the grave. 
Besides the De Soysa Hospital for Women, he built other hospitals in other places in Sri Lanka, provided amenities for the study of medicine, and endowment to public institutions in the building of roads, bridges, rest houses, tanks and irrigation. It could well be said of him that seldom in the annals of philanthropy has so much been owed by so many to one single man. He obviously believed in the principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He established a Co-operative Society for the Carpenters of Moratuwa, was the Founder of the Ceylon Agricultural Association and the first Ceylonese Banker. 


As his great granddaughter, I say a silent prayer of thanks for his soul as I pass his statue at De Soysa Circus. All of us who are privileged to be his descendants owe him a great debt and I’m proud that his blood flows in mine and that of my children. I end with the words that my father, his grandson, the late Professor C.C. De Silva who wrote in The De Soysa Saga, “It is a privilege bestowed on a few of us to be remembered , wept, honoured and sung for 100 years or more after our deaths.
So I believe we are a grateful and cultured nation, and the name of De Soysa will flourish and be honoured in this land for a long time to come.’


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  Comments - 9

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  • Think about it Sunday, 25 February 2024 04:38 PM

    Has any part of his full name got any connection to Sri Lankan languages or culture ? NONE.

    C M Fernando Tuesday, 27 February 2024 04:35 PM

    This proves that Generosity arises from the Soul and not from Name or language nor from culture.

    Nimal Tuesday, 27 February 2024 06:36 PM

    I would like to add a few words about what has been commented by "Think about it". What's in a name, that what we call a rose, by any other name would smell just as sweet". It is not the name or its origins that is of importance, It is the good works that he has done, which live even today. Incidentally, has any part of the name "Henry Steele Olcott" got any connection to the Sri Lankan language?

    Herath Wednesday, 28 February 2024 12:12 AM

    @ C M Fernando, @ Nimal : what “ think about it” meant was this name fully belongs to the European powers that invaded and occupied our country. And that says a lot !

    Kapila Fernando Wednesday, 28 February 2024 09:51 PM

    Here we go again.........

    Asoka Herath Wednesday, 28 February 2024 06:44 AM

    These people were worse than the current drug dealers. The money they a earned was from Arak trade and then became philanthropists.

    Thimal Samarajeea Wednesday, 28 February 2024 01:33 PM

    He never indulged in distillery trade. They owed coffee, coconut and rubber estates in upcountry and law country. Bagatalle Estate where the British Council is now situated was his residence. Then Prince of Wales came to Ceylon on his invitation to declare open the Prince of Wales and Princes Wales colleges. His and his wife remains rest in Pease in the church compound in front of the two schools. He has donated much more than what is mentioned in the article and one example is Medical Research Institute. Not like present day politicians he earned wealth from legitimate business ventures and greater part of it given back to the society. He was the greatest philanthropist this country ever has seen. I wrote this to show the correct position as a former Cambrian.

    Chandana Wednesday, 28 February 2024 03:56 PM

    @ Thimal Samarajeea, The question is while being invaded and ruled by alien white men ( at that time they would have looked like aliens from another planet to all Sri Lankans )who came from thousands of miles away and kept the entire Sri Lankans as lower humans , how did this family acquire so much wealth to possess rubber, tea, and coconut estates ? The only possibility is treacherous collaboration with the invaders and in return they were rewarded handsomely with fertile land which ironically belong to us in the first place. What they acquired was “ blood wealth “.

    Dr Nishali Ekanayaka Wednesday, 28 February 2024 04:44 PM

    Not only did he donate the land for the De Soyza maternity home, a lot of the land for National Hospital of Sri Lanka, and Medical Research Institute Etc was also a part of his vast donations.He was one of the the greatest philanthropist this country ever has seen.


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