The President's Speech
The Rtd senior officers from all three services, Police, Fellow Rtd servicemen, & your beloved families, ladies and gentlemen, Good Evening and Welcome to Spring the Eve 2018 organised by the SLESA NZ.
This is a very special evening for us, and we are delighted to celebrate, the tenth anniversary of the association, with each of you today.
Ten years – A decade that’s a long time for an organization like ours – to endure with the very limited number of retired service men and women, to continue in an overseas soil.
As we all know – the Endurance isn’t easy, Meaningful endurance is even harder.
I will take this opportunity to give you all a quick momentary, about the beginning of this association, which is a wonderful story, great to share over a fabulous dinner in a beautiful setting as you are in right now.
It was a proposal, Made by a Senior Rtd Army Officer, Major Gen Andrew Ratnayake with the agreement of few other officers of the same calibre. The decision was made, task was given to Wing Cmdr Nalin Wickremasinghe and Colonel Hemal Mendis. With their dedication and the diligence, the association was formed, in year 2008 to talk often, about comradeship, to meet and greet with the other fellow service members and their families. Unfortunately Major Gen Andrew Ratnayake is residing in the US now, is not being able to be with us today, but he is well aware of the timely developments of the Association and I should mention that we are still blessed with his generosity constantly. I would like to thank Maj Gen Andrew and Aunty Priya for their constant support. !!
Our First President was Brigadier Percy wijekoon, who took over the challenge, and passed it down to various members, I am the sixth Madam president, to continue with the mission. Many of the executive Committee members have been serving in the committee, from day one, to date and continuing with great pleasure, of course, which is a demanding sacrifice. Also I would like to thank all the past presidents, and the members who had been in the executive committee, for the valuable support during their tenure.
So like any other association, we had a dream, started very small, and worked hard, staying focused and growing towards helping many worthy causes. With lot of hope and courage, by the means of kindness, generosity and support from you all.
Mainly we have taken the responsibility of offering support and comfort to service men and women, to their families, of those, who had gone through the worst pain to bring about the best change in our motherland.
The challenges that we have completed during the past ten years were many, which I am not going to elaborate on, at this moment. But I would like to mention a few words about our, first Project, The Project Appreciation, which is coming to a date of completion by end of Dec 2018.
We managed to Offer scholarships to, 62 young children, selected from those impacted families, to continue with their academic developments. I am pleased to mention at this moment, that this task is been accomplished with the support of individual donors such as yourselves. During the dark days of those thirty years, not only the service people, we have not forgotten the innocent civilians were caught in between. Life was uncertain for everyone who lived in Sri Lanka those days. I am sure among you, there will be many, who had narrow escapes, you must be having your own stories to share.
Ladies and gentlemen what I realised was “life has offered us a second chance, for a reason. If you have the power to make someone happy – better do it. The world needs more of that. Be that person that makes others feel special! I am sure you are with the same understanding as mine. You scholarship donors, had given the best gift to that child by investing in to their academic future, you have become a part of their life, and you are entitled to be a proud portion of their better tomorrow!! The past made us better!! Not bitter. You have proved how Your attitude determined your direction!! In fact, if one word could describe the attribute of your contribution, that word would be generosity. Having already given above and beyond the call of duty at least once during your lifetime, you choose to give again. And in doing so, you make that link with those deprived people – to pay the gratitude, and also to ensure would never again experience the horrors of war –even more meaningful.
Having said that, among us today, we have a special person – courage’s daughter, who lost her Sunshine, her beloved father, during the hostile war. She is one of our scholarship donors, contributing towards another brave soldier’s child’s academic future. !! What an example!! As we all know it is MAHEEKA Ariyapperuma. We are very proud of you Maheeka and blessed to have you with us! She is ready to address you soon with a special item to night.
Mrs Ariyapperuma, was an active member and a regular supporter of this association, we missed her in our gatherings during the last two years!! We haven’t forgotten her and She will be in our thoughts for ever!!
So I think it is more than enough about the project Appreciation now.
I take this opportunity to mention that, In this journey, We touched many of your resources, skills and specialities at the right times, in many different ways. Due to time restrictions, I cannot thank all of you namely, individually, though I love to do it. If I start I might call all of your names, since every one of you are here tonight had been a great support towards the sustainability of this organisation. A big thank you for your continuous generous offers, I am sure the, the mother Lanka is been blessed with your kind act. Whether it is in the form of Financial, technical, software, or hardware, the help is always there when we need it. No words to thank you lovely bunch of Friends, remember you are a great part of a good deed.. One name I , I preferred to mention here is – Channaka Weerasinghe our voluntary Auditor for the last ten years. , Thank you Channaka for your time and effort you are sacrificing towards this association. We really appreciate it.
At this stage, I would like to say, that We hope to continue to sustain and add value to our services, by introducing the next project in the pipe line – which is to offer, financial support to build a nest for a family, of a brave soldier, who lost his vision during the war. All our future fundraising efforts will be focused towards this great assignment. We look forward to the threads to add to our tapestry. More details were tabled to night, if you are interested in going through of it.
At the same time I believe, it is appropriate this evening to remember with affection, one of our members – Late Dr Nihal Perera , who had been a part of our initial journey. He also will be in our thoughts for ever!!
I am sure, as an association we worked tirelessly, have utilised the resources fully, to the right objectives, to the best, offered by promoters, knowing the responsibility to accomplish the goals. None of this would have been possible without the determination of the committee members, and their families’ voluntary support. I take this opportunity to thank all the ladies- The wives of the committee members who had been an amazing backing towards all the projects in the past. Not forgetting the children. I know, we as service men never made requests when we talk to our children, they were always CO’s orders!! All the time. I heard, my children many a times say,: “This is not your Air force Dad”. Thank you all of you lovely sons and daughters of the committee members, Non committee members, you too can have the satisfaction of given a part of your smile to someone who has not got one!!
Well, Cheers all of you lovely friends and families who are here to night. On behalf of the committee I would like to thank all of you for your presence, I am sure Neville and Madushan will take you on an entertaining musical extravaganza with their live music, Thank you Neville, Madushan for taking the challenge.
Ladies and gentlemen -Let’s make a positive change together. I would like to conclude my address with a small caption I read recently in a piece of paper;-
If you want to change the world, go home and love your family!
Thank you! Enjoy the evening