Words from Workshop Participants
Prasanna Kumara – Kekirawa Workshop
I am 24 years old. I studied in school only up to grade 11. When I joined the Sunera workshop I had to be accompanied by my parents as I could not go anywhere alone.
Sunera’s Performance Shines at North Central Province Arts Festival
Their disability did not prevent them from getting on a public stage to compete at an art festival with the non-disabled. They emerged victorious, bringing a rare honour to themselves and to Sunera Foundation.
Amila Jayasinghe is a school dropout due to the teasing he endured for being disabled and had started to think of himself as a social outcast when he joined us. 8 years after. he has now developed to the extent of being employed at a Garment Factory as a helper.
Twenty eight year old Dimuthu Manjula, living at Belmont Estate in Kulandawa, is slow learner. His life took a new turn after he attended the first Sunera workshop in Akuressa.
Indika Bandara Adikari & Nimmi Tennakone
Indika is speech and hearing impaired. He became a member of the Kurunegala workshop in 2004. Indika is married to Nimmi Tennakone, who is also hearing and speech impaired. She joined Sunera in 2007 as a participant.
Chathura joined the Sunera workshop in Kurunegala in 2005, as a member. Much like Indika and Nimmi, he progressed up the ladder from assistant to trainer.
Lahiru joined the Kurunegala workshop in 2005 as a member. He progressed to being assistant trainer from which position he rose to being a trainer. He now works at the Anamaduwa and Kurunagala workshops. A talented actor and dancer, Lahiru has directed plays which were featured in Samanalayaya drama festivals. In 2012 his production for the Anamaduwa workshop was selected for the finals.
Dishani is a shy 25 year old girl who is speech and hearing impaired.
People loved my acting at the Festival. I felt thrilled when I saw it. I couldn’t hear it, but I could see them laughing and applauding. I have never been so happy in my life
Dishani Damayanthi – Anamaduwa Workshop, Puttalam District
Lahiru De Silva
Lahiru is a Downs Syndrome participant who was affected by speech impairment and mental retardation, who normally preferred not to talk at all or even make a sound.
His speech is clear and coherent now, Lahiru now shows improvement not only in his communication abilities, but also in the way he behaves in public.
Father of Lahiru De Silva – Dehiwala Workshop, Colombo District
Nimesh Maduranga – Kurunegala Workshop
Nimesh is a founder member of the Kurunegala workshop and has been attending regularly since the inception of the workshop.
Ishara Shyamal – Galle Workshop
Ishara is 11 years old and has been attending the Galle workshop for the past one year. When he joined the workshop he was shy and withdrawn. He used to sit in a corner and observe the activities but never engaged in them.
Dinuka Dhananjana – Maharagama Workshop
Dinuka is an 18 year old boy who is hearing impaired couples with other physical disabilities. He has been attending the Maharagama workshop for the past 2 years.
Deepana Devraj – Bogawantalawa Workshop
Deepana has been attending our Bogawantalawa workshop in the plantation sector for the past 10 years. When she joined the workshop she used to be shy, withdrawn and did not interact or communicate with anyone.
Herath Menike is a Visually impared student who was depressed and withdrawn at the time she joined the workshop.
Now I’m at peace with myself. I don’t worry about my vision and mostly I’m happy during the day. I don’t cry anymore.
Herath Menike – Palugaswewa Workshop, Anuradhapura District
Michel Imesha experienced speech difficulties and lethargy as side effects of Downs Syndrome and she was afraid of heights! She now climbs stairs without any fear, has begun to engage in other activities, expresses herself better, she plays, sings and tries to be independent.
She is quite happy to stay by herself at the workshop without having me around, something which she was reluctant to do before.
Aunt (Caretaker) of Michel Imesha, – Dharga Town Workshop, Kalutara District
Negombo workshop member, Sumudu Jayampathi, shares her views on her life changing experience, which was brought about by Sunera.
Gayan Ajith Kumara
As a member of the Horagolla workshop from its inception, Gayan Ajith Kumara’s story is testimony to how individuals like him can break barriers of impairment and move on in life.
Sylvester, as he is known to all of us, hails from Hatton, which is located in the up-country tea plantations region. When he was a small boy, his father had abandoned his mother, who had to work on the tea estates to support her son and herself.
Dinuka Madhushan – Kuliyapitiya Workshop
Dinuka first came to the workshop being carried by his mother. Throughout the workshop he refused to leave his mother’s side and did not participate in the activities. He used to cry a lot. Through the next few workshops, the trainers identified his liking for music and started giving him musical instruments to work with. This made him comfortable and also helped to form a relationship with the trainers. Initially he would sit in the circle only with the trainer but slowly began participating in the activities. He found it difficult to stand on his own but was persistent in trying. Now he has come out of his shell and participates actively in all the routines. He has progressed very well. Dinuka does not cry anymore, he is happy and smiling all the time.
Sujith Rasanga Jayasinghe – Aluthgama Workshop
Sujith Rasanga has been attending the workshop since its inception. When Sujith joined the workshop he was unable to speak at all. He could not communicate well even with his parents and spent his time at home sleeping and watching TV. Sujith’s life changed after he began engaging in the workshop routines. Today he is able to speak and communicate with anyone around him. He is able to share his thoughts, how he is and how is progressing to his family. He no longer spends his time alone but interacts with others and is an active part of the workshop. Due to his progress Sujith played a lead role in the Samanalayaya Drama Festival in 2016.
Janith Payanadun – Maharagama Workshop
Janith Payanadun is a 24 year old boy who joined the workshop 5 years ago. Janith could not speak much and was not able to communicate very well when he joined the workshop. Being and only child and disabled made him a loner with no friends. He was very shy and did not like to participate or interact with anyone at the workshop. Gradually Janith began to feel comfortable at the workshop. He began to develop socially, mentally and physically. Janith is now able to communicate and has no problems in interacting with his friends at the workshop. He played a lead role in the Samanalayaya Drama Festival in the Maharagama production. Janith’s father states that he is now a healthier boy too. He discusses his health with the trainers and walks daily for exercise. Janith has found new meaning to life.
Clement Vivek – Wattala
Clement Vivek used to attend a special school before he joined the Sunera workshop. He used to hardly talk or respond in this class even when his name was called. People used to think he was a speech impaired boy. He lives with his parents. His siblings have moved out of their home to start their own lives. Clement spends his time alone. When he joined the workshop he used to be a loner, not wanting to socialise or interact with anyone. Through the encouragement and support he got from the Sunera trainers he began to feel loved at the workshop. He began to participate in the activities and even communicating with the others. He began with a few words and now talks well. He loves the workshop and continues to do the routines at home. Clement can look after himself on his own now and help around the house with small chores. His parents state that he used to wonder what he could do with his disability. But now they realize that he can do everything with the right support. Clements life has changed and he is no longer the boy he used to be.
I am a part of the Batticaloa Sunera Foundation workshop and it has brought me much happiness in my life. Before I began attending the workshop, my disability caused me a lot of fear and anxiety as I could not walk like everyone else. After joining the workshop and participating in all the activities, I learned that nothing Is impossible if I am willing to try. The dancing, movement, singing, art and other routines at the workshop calmed my fears and helped me to overcome my shyness. I am now so happy to not be intimidated by disability. Sunera has helped me to find my creative talents and I have been able to take part in sports activities, stage shows and do arts and crafts. The trainers encourage me to keep going.
Wimalasiri Nelukka – Batticaloa Workshop
I started coming to the workshop from the day it started. I love the workshop very much and can’t wait for Thursdays to come each week! At the workshop I am able to sing, draw, take part in dramas and enjoy time with my friends. Our trainers love us very much.
Hasidu Malshan – Kobeigane Workshop
I love coming for the workshop. I have many friends. The trainers teach us how to dance, draw, sing, read and exercise. I will always come to the Sunera workshop.
J.P Chamodh Shalika – Galle Workshop
The day I enjoy the most in the week is Thursday. That’s because it is the day I can be happy.
The trainers are so kind and helpful. We went to Jaffna and did a drama with the Jaffna workshop participants. I made new friends there. The Sunera workshop is a new experience for me.
Priyantha Sisira Kumara – Anuradhapura Workshop
I love to sing and dance. I can do all this at the Sunera workshop! Our teachers love us a lot. I love them too. I will come every day for the Sunera Foundation workshop!
Sudeera Roshan – Participant – Kekirawa Workshop
The workshop is progressing very well. This is a new experience for me to see a workshop of such a nature. The children are happy at the workshop and enjoy the activities. The trainers are well trained and handle the children very well. We value this workshop.
Sr. Nilasa – Ozanam Centre (Batticaloa Workshop)
I value the workshop conducted by Sunera to enable the disabled community to develop and progress within our community. The work they do to integrate disabled children into mainline activity and bring about personal develop so that they will not be a burden on their parents and society is a commendable job as it is not easy. We are indeed grateful to all at Sunera for what they do.
Ranjith Thalakotuwa – Government Official – Homagama (Homagama Workshop)
The participants enjoy this workshop very much. The work that Sunera does with these orphaned children is of great value to the community.
P. Rajendra – Secretary, Vincent De Paul Council, Batticaloa
The disabled children in our community should be protected and cared for by society. The role that Sunera Foundation plays in this is like no other. They have been able to continuously serve the disabled community in Sri Lanka with much care and harness the capabilities of these children while making the society aware of their needs. I wish them the best of luck in their work.
H.M.P.K. Karunaratne – Social Service Officer, Divisional Secretariat, Kuliyapitiya
The disabled children in our society are very special. The Sunera workshop helps them to be treated just like any other child and does not allow them to be swallowed up by the norms and concepts of society. This is a service that we value very much and hope will continue for a long time to come.
Thushani Pathirana – Teacher, Hinadumgoda Vijayananda College, Weligama