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APPRECIATIONS

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Happy 98th birthday in heaven

RUKIE EHELIYAGODA

Thank you for living and sharing a life worth remembering.

Many were the testimonies of great miracles you received in your lifetime from your Heavenly Father.

Love and care were lavished immeasurably, enriching and inspiring my life. They are forget-me-nots in the garden of my life. Roses for my spirit and soul, reminding me of the never-fading smiles on your face that warmed me, inside and out. Oh! how I miss seeing them!

You were best at nourishing me spiritually. Being generous, giving and forgiving, lifting my spirits and propping up my self-esteem with much understanding.

You were more than a mother to me. A reflection of Him in your face I saw. If I could have chosen, I would have picked no other than for you to be my much loved mother.

Your ever-loving daughter

 – Charmaine Eheliyagoda Madurasinghe


She had love and forgiveness for one and all

Stephanie Fernando

Soft as the voice of an angel

Breathing a lesson unheard

Hope with a gentle persuasion

Whispers her comforting word

Wait ‘til the darkness is over

Wait ‘til the tempest is done

Hope for the sunshine tomorrow

After the darkness is gone….

This immortal song—written by Septimus Winner, a well-known poet, composer and violinist, as far back as 1868—portrays the life of Stephanie Fernando who was deeply loved and widely respected by her family, relatives and friends.

As an active member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement (Pubuduwa), Stephanie often began her day with personal prayer and thus she was filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit, fruits of love, joy, peace, patience and kindness, humility, gentleness, meekness and faithfulness.

It was somewhat late in life that Stephanie and her husband, Shirley Fernando, decided to leave their boats behind on familiar shores and follow the Lord into the deep. They acted on the words of the famous song ‘So I leave my boats behind’.

Deep within my heart I feel

Voices whispering to me;

Words that I can’t understand

Meanings I must clearly hear.

Calling me to follow close,

Lest I leave myself behind!

Calling me to walk into

Evening shadows one more time.

So I leave my boats behind!

Leave them on familiar shores!

Set my heart upon the deep.

Follow you again my Lord.

Early in 2000, she and Shirley teamed up with the Oblate (OMI) Community to set up an elders’ home at Andiambalama near Katunayake. Though she had a diploma from the London School of Music and could have earned much, Stephanie decided to leave it all behind and do what God wanted her to do. From her youngest son’s savings account, she received an interest of about Rs. 6,000 rupees, but she gave it away as charity.

Stephanie and Shirley travelled every week all the way from their home in Rajagiriya to the elders’ home, Prem Nivasa, in Andiambalama, taking provisions and other needs. Even after Shirley died, Stephanie continued the work with other members of the Holy Trinity Community.

In the last few weeks of her life, Stephanie was plagued by illness but accepted it as part of her suffering with Christ and for Christ. She must have heard an angel whisper to her:

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling

Calling for you and for me….

Stephanie freely received God’s unending, unfailing, unlimited and unmerited love, and freely as she received, freely she gave mainly to her children, Shirleen, Shian, Sandra, Sherica, Shioni and Shermal, seven grandchildren, and five greatgrandchildren.

Not only to her children, she freely gave love and forgiveness, even to her extended family, relatives and friends. To me, she was not just a sister-in-law, but like a second mother who had deep care and concern for me. She must have also heard God say “Well done, my good and faithful servant, I give you eternal life and heavenly bliss with angels and saints.”

Thank you, Stephanie. May hosts of angels sing thee to thy sleep.

-Louis Benedict


He had the integrity and indomitable spirit of a true public servant

 Tuan Bagoos Samath

It was 1976 just before the country faced a General Election the next year with the then Sirimavo Bandaranaike government being very unpopular. The location was the crucial Department of Government Printing, simply known as the Government Press, in the heart of Borella.

Tension was mounting as trade unions of the workforce had got into action to protest against the recruitment of new employees, culminating in violent confrontations.

In the eye of the storm was soft-spoken but dedicated T.B. Samath, known as TB, the Works Manager of the Government Press. It was while trying to calm the frayed tempers of a violent crowd that he endured his most harrowing career challenge – being splattered with printing ink by disgruntled workers, which put splotches of black on his full white attire. This made headlines in the newspapers of that time.

TB was born on June 12, 1919. His early education was at St. Michael’s School, Polwatte, followed by Jinaraja Vidyalaya, Gampola.

Soon after leaving school, TB took up employment as an accountant, book-keeper and stenographer on several estates, becoming invaluable to the managers of Galaha Estate, Gampola; Coolbawn Estate, Nawalapitiya; and Delta Estate, Pussellawa.

It was on February 1, 1942, that TB enlisted in the British Army serving in the Ceylon Light Infantry (CLI). As he was proficient in accountancy and shorthand typewriting, he was put to good use by the ‘B’ Company of 1/C.L.I. His service won him a Defence Medal in 1939, followed by a second accolade in 1945.

A major career change came for TB in 1946 when he joined the Government Press and dedicated his life to it for 32 years, ascending the ladder speedily from Assistant Foreman, Confidential Branch to Superintendent, Confidential Branch, Works Manager and Additional Government Printer.

It was when he was at the Confidential Branch that TB’s integrity was put to the test, as he was tasked with safeguarding the secrecy of sensitive printing assignments and he faced his greatest ordeal when suspicions arose over a leaked examination paper. The ensuing investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) subjected him to intense scrutiny, yet his detailed account of the stringent procedures followed exonerated him.

In 1975, his expertise came into play in meeting the demanding printing requirements of the South Asian Housing Ministers’ Conference held in May and in 1976 when Sri Lanka played host to the 5th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in August.

It was also in early 1976 that the Government Press was engulfed in turmoil as in anticipation of the 1977 election, numerous political appointments were made to this institution, with the influx of new recruits sparking violent trade union action.

TB’s reports on the unrest on Tuesday, March 9, 11 and 12, 1976 make interesting reading of the events within the Government Press.

TB who dedicated his life to the Government Press from 1946 to 1978 retired as Works Manager and Additional Government Printer.

Even though he retired in 1978 and is no more, many say that TB’s legacy is one of resilience and unwavering dedication – a poignant reminder of the strength of character and indomitable spirit of a true public servant.

TB married Zorriah (Zown) Mohamed from Rothschild Estate, Pussellawa, in July 1951 and had three children, Zaithoon, Feizal and Charmeen. He passed away on March 15, 2006.

-Anver Kamiss


 

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