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One man’s journey to raise funds for cancer patients

22 May 2013 07:37 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


At the end of this month, Ru­van Ra­na­tun­ga will set out to do the seem­ing­ly im­pos­si­ble. On May 30 he be­gins his 500-kil­o­me­tre trek across Sri Lan­ka from Don­dra Head to Point Pe­dro on a self­less jour­ney in aid of can­cer pa­tients.

To Ru­van, this is his dream come true. He said af­ter 14 years in the ar­my and hav­ing roamed across the coun­try in­clud­ing some of the op­era­tion­al areas in the North and the East, it seemed time­ly to em­bark on this jour­ney for a num­ber of rea­sons.

“I have dreamt about this for a long time,” he said ear­nest­ly. “The time has come to live that dream and that’s my walk of hope.”

The ad­ven­tur­ous phi­lan­throp­ist add­ed that the walk was in­spired main­ly by his pas­sion for the out­doors and his love for his coun­try.

How­ev­er, his walk is not just about liv­ing his dream. By liv­ing his dream, Ru­van is help­ing many oth­ers to re­al­ise their dream of liv­ing to see an­oth­er day.
“I be­lieve that to have lived, we have to reach out­side our­selves and touch the lives of oth­ers in what­ev­er ca­paci­ty we can. There­fore I want to com­bine that with my pas­sion to trek, prov­ing a ray of hope for those suf­fer­ing from can­cer.”

To sup­port the cause of help­ing can­cer pa­tients all over the coun­try, Ru­van is count­ing on the gen­er­os­i­ty of the peo­ple. He has asked peo­ple to pledge don­a­tions in what­ev­er their ca­paci­ty. All don­a­tions will go di­rect­ly to fund the Cour­age Com­pas­sion Com­mit­ment (CCC) House, a 188-bed can­cer trans­it home for out­ door pa­tients at the Na­tion­al Can­cer In­sti­tute in Ma­ha­ra­ga­ma and to the Col­ours of Cour­age Trust’s Pe­dia­tric Can­cer Ward which is un­der con­struc­tion at The­lip­pa­lai in the North of Sri Lan­ka.

Ev­ery pledge goes di­rect­ly to the two or­gan­i­sa­tions and is equal­ly divi­ded be­tween the two proj­ects.
Any don­a­tion can be made to CCC Foun­da­tion Sri Lan­ka, Ac­count Num­ber 1416440701, Com­mer­cial Bank Cor­po­rate Branch.
For more in­for­ma­tion, please vis­it www.face­­Wal­kOf­Hope


Speak­ing fur­ther about in­spi­ra­tion for his cause Ru­van said can­cer was a dis­ease that no one was im­mune to and it knows no race, re­li­gion or eth­nic­i­ty.
“Can­cer has a war-like ring to it be­cause if you don’t know some­one who is af­fec­ted by it, then it is hard­er to re­late to pa­tients who con­tin­ue to strug­gle with it,” he ex­plained. “Al­so, it is a life-long bat­tle. Over­com­ing the pain and suf­fer­ing brought on by can­cer is one of the most cou­ra­geous bat­tles that a per­son can fight. Those who fight can­cer are the brav­est of peo­ple.”

CCC Foun­da­tion is a not-for-prof­it or­gan­i­sa­tion based in Sri Lan­ka and Aus­tral­ia to pro­vide serv­ices to those suf­fer­ing from can­cer and to pro­mote one’s men­tal well-be­ing. CCC Foun­da­tion was es­tab­lish­ed in 2003 to as­sist the Na­tion­al Can­cer In­sti­tute (NCI) in Ma­ha­ra­ga­ma to pro­vide sup­port for chil­dren fight­ing can­cer.
The CCC Foun­da­tion op­er­ates and main­tains the CCC House, a 188-bed can­cer trans­it home for out­pa­tients at the NCI. Sit­u­ated in­side the prem­ises of the Can­cer In­sti­tute to ac­com­mo­date out­pa­tients, it is the larg­est fa­cili­ty of its kind for chil­dren and their guard­i­ans as well as for adult out­pa­tients who are suf­fer­ing from can­cer in Sri Lan­ka.
To tack­le the high rate of sui­cide in Sri Lan­ka, the CCC Foun­da­tion al­so of­fers a free tel­e­phone coun­sel­ling serv­ice. By di­al­ing 1333, CCC help­line num­ber, call­ers can speak to trained tel­e­phone coun­sel­lors who are will­ing to lis­ten and as­sist.
He said that his aim was to take a mes­sage to the can­cer pa­tients all across Sri Lan­ka that, “you are not alone be­cause we are there for you and we care for you.”
Ru­van’s walk of hope is al­so his quest for peace. His jour­ney will take him through di­verse com­mun­i­ties and will in­tro­duce him to peo­ple of all races, eth­nic­i­ties, re­li­gions and the hap­pi­ness and pov­er­ty that make up this na­tion. Along the miles he will take with him the mes­sage that heal­ing has to come from with­in each and ev­ery one of us.  

“On some of these roads I have walked with a weap­on in my hand,” Ru­van re­mi­nisced. “But now it is time to move on. It is time to for­get the hate, the vi­o­lence and the di­vi­sive na­ture of this coun­try. It is time to un­der­stand, heal and hope.”

He said just like his jour­ney, the aid will al­so ex­tend across the coun­try, help­ing pa­tients in the North as well as the pa­tients in the South.

The 500-kil­o­me­tre jour­ney, start­ing from the south­ern tip of the coun­try in Don­dra and lead­ing north­wards across the coun­try to Point Pe­dro is es­ti­ma­ted to take some 45 days to com­plete. The jour­ney will take Ru­van from Don­dra to Rat­na­pura, Kur­u­ne­ga­la, Anu­rad­ha­pura and Tu­nuk­kai till he rea­ches the North­ern tip of the coun­try.
“It is a very di­verse jour­ney be­cause it goes right across Sri Lan­ka. I am try­ing to avoid main roads and high­ways as much as pos­si­ble and take the less­er-known paths through re­mote vil­lages and small towns,” Ru­van said. “I will al­so be walk­ing through Sin­har­a­ja, climb­ing the Adam’s Peak (Sri Pa­da) and see­ing many oth­er treas­ured pla­ces in Sri Lan­ka.”

He add­ed that this walk was unique be­cause he was at­tempt­ing to walk in a straight-line as much as pos­si­ble and keep close to the base­line across the coun­try.
The am­bi­tious al­tru­ist said de­pend­ing on the ter­rain he plans to cov­er about 12 to 20 kil­o­me­tres a day.

How­ev­er Ru­van’s jour­ney will not be a walk in the park. He de­scri­bed it as “a live-off-your-back ad­ven­ture.” He said he hasn’t made any ar­range­ments for meals or ac­com­mo­da­tion be­cause he be­lieves that the peo­ple he meets will have the gen­er­os­i­ty to share a meal with him. He will be walk­ing with 42 hours’ worth of food, enough wa­ter and a tent for those times he may not be able to find any­one to host him.

The Col­ours of Cour­age Trust is a unique or­gan­i­sa­tion foun­ded in 2008 to ad­dress the needs of the Na­tion­al Can­cer In­sti­tute, Ma­ha­ra­ga­ma. It has been spe­cif­i­cal­ly for­mu­la­ted to not on­ly tack­le the cur­rent, most ur­gent needs of the hos­pi­tal but al­so fo­cu­ses on main­tain­ing in­i­ti­ated proj­ects and ac­tive­ly en­gag­ing in new ven­tures.
The or­gan­i­sa­tion is al­so in­volved in up­grad­ing the fa­cili­ties of the NCI and pro­motes can­cer re­search.
The proj­ect in Jaff­na is due to be com­ple­ted in No­vem­ber 2013 and will pro­vide those re­quir­ing can­cer treat­ment in the North, Cen­tral & East­ern prov­in­ces ac­cess to state of the art treat­ment fa­cili­ties to be lo­ca­ted in Thel­lip­pa­lai. The proj­ect will al­so fea­ture the de­vel­op­ment of a high de­pend­en­cy pe­dia­tric unit at the Jaff­na Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal. The Pe­dia­tric Can­cer Ward is the first can­cer unit built for chil­dren in the for­mer war zone


“It cer­tain­ly won’t be a trek of com­fort,” ea­ger­ly smil­ing Ru­van ex­plained. “Weath­er con­di­tions will be a big chal­lenge. Al­so, the ter­rain could be dif­fi­cult at cer­tain points be­cause I will be tak­ing less­er-known paths. But that’s the ad­ven­ture. These ob­sta­cles will be tak­en in the same spi­rit of the jour­ney. I am look­ing at them as chal­leng­es rath­er than dif­fi­cul­ties.”

He add­ed that even though it is a per­son­al jour­ney and a so­lo ef­fort some peo­ple have ex­pressed in­ter­est in join­ing him at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions. Ru­van said that any­one was wel­come to join him so long as they un­der­stood the rough na­ture of the jour­ney and were will­ing to take re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for them­selves.

Speak­ing about the chal­leng­es that lay ahead of him, Ru­van did not seem wor­ried and main­tained his cheer­ful, en­thu­si­as­tic de­mean­or. He ex­plained that the train­ing he got in the ar­my had pre­pared him to take on chal­leng­es that most peo­ple deem im­pos­si­ble.

“My ex­pe­ri­ence in the ar­my has sha­ped me to think broad­ly,” he said. “The proc­ess of train­ing has moul­ded me to take on chal­leng­es in a great way.”
Ru­van who is a fa­ther of an en­er­get­ic nine-year-old said that his fam­i­ly was ab­so­lute­ly sup­por­tive of his en­deav­our.

“Even though my son and my wife can­not join me the whole way, I hope they can ac­com­pa­ny me at cer­tain points,” he said. “My son wants to climb Adam’s Peak with me. He is very proud of me.”

Ru­van is op­ti­mis­tic that any­one with a good sense of com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to a cause can ach­ieve great things. He hopes that his en­deav­our can make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of those who are suf­fer­ing from can­cer as well as those whom he will meet on his jour­ney.

(Pix by War­u­na Wanniarachchi)

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