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Rev. Fr. Augustine Berrewaerts SJ :

Great, selfless service to less affluent

Although forty nine years have passed since the demise of Fr. Berrewaerts on 17th September 1963 students and parents of Ampitiya pay homage to his yeoman service as a teacher, guide and Principal of the school he founded in 1905. Rev. Fr. Berrewaerts, a Belgium national of a noble family was persuaded by the Church authorities in Belgium to undertake missionary work in the oriental countries in accordance with the sacerdotal spirit prevailing in the last quarter of the 19th century in Western Europe. He preferred Ceylon while other young priests went to Goa, Calcutta and other Indian cities.

His assignment to the papal seminary at Ampitiya offered him opportunities for social and educational activities apart from his priestly functions.

Ampitiya village two miles from the Kandy town on the road to Talatuoya was a Katupulle village during the reign of the Sinhala Kings of Senkadagala. Here in this village, twenty two men held lands for the service of conveying the orders of the King or the Adigars who should serve in the place or of the Adigars Walawwa. The Papal Seminary is situated in several portions of this Katupulle lands.

Being poor residents, the Papal Seminary authorities provided opportunity to Fr. Berrewaerts to start an English school, in the period after the 1848 uprisings in Matale.

English education infused allegiance to the British government and the children of these areas looked for job opportunities. The Ampitiya English school under Fr. Berrewaerts was a golden opportunity for English education to the lower, non-affluent families of Ampitiya, Talatuoya, Uduwela, Tenekumbura and Gurudeniya.

For 50 years he was the principal of Ampitiya School and this was a period of great selfless service to the less affluent students. The fees were very low and the privileged had free education. Spiritual and welfare activities were such that he provided a sick room and a miniature hospital to students who fell sick during school hours and those who suffered injuries while playing.

In the school sick room he attended to each and every student and visited them at night at 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. walking alone from the Papal Seminary. In fact he was a socialist in the true sense of the word long before the word socialism was introduced to Ceylon during the Donoughmore era. His principal objective was not only to teach English but also to instruct the students to do good writing which was held in high esteem by all schools in Kandy at the time he was Principal.

The nett result was such that those students who passed the SSC with good writing skills in examinations had been selected to the government service. He instilled the virtues of discipline, integrity and honesty in all dealings and was a personality that students in the post-students days inspired them to perform their duties in accordance with the model character that he expected from his students in whatever undertakings they opted in life.

His priestly life in the service of God spanned seven decades and inspired generations of students to follow the example set by him.


B.K.E. Raja Rodrigo:

A popular social worker

B.K.E.R. (Raja) Rodrigo ex-Deputy Director Food and Drugs and Sri Lankan's first Chief Food & Drugs Inspector who retired as the Deputy Director of Food & Drugs of the Health Ministry passed away on 14th April 2010 after a brief illness.

Raja was born and lived in Ragama. He was the eldest of seven brothers. His second brother Quintus was a veteran broadcaster. Raja was blessed with two sons and two daughters. Raja was a bright student at De Mazenod College Kandana. He was a senior cadet in the Ceylon Cadets Corps and attended camps in Diyatalawa. While in school be showed much interest in sports and cricket.

His senior school master Henry Senaratne wrote in his certificate this assessment: 'A special trait of his character is his honesty and trustworthiness which he always displayed. Being a quiet and reserved disposition, he applies himself to work with great concentration and thoroughness'.

These attitudes and qualities recognized by the superiors of his Alma mater remained in him upto his death.

After finishing his school career he worked as a teacher at the Katukurunda, Moratuwa, Roman Catholic School for a brief period and later joined the Health Department as a Public Health Inspector. His first appointment and posting was at Devahoowa in Galewala.

He loved reading and his skills for writing was excellent. There were many who came to him to get various letters and documents drafted.

He possessed a good command of the English Language.

Raja was also a social worker. He organized a service organization called “Humanitarians” in Ragama along with other prominent media and professionals of the area.

He was responsible for introducing Jaycees International to the Ragama area youth and motivating youth to be effective in leadership qualities, and activated them for voluntary services as well.

In recognition of the dedicated and committed services to the cause of Jayceeism, International Jaycees admitted him to the membership and fellowship of Jaycees International (JCI) Senator.

He was awarded the Certificate for Inspectors of Food and Drugs by the Department of Health Services.

Raja also attended the regional workshop on Mycotoxin prevention and control programme in Asia held in Manila Philippines under UN-FAO, another programme on food control administration in Thailand, a third study programme in Japan.

The Royal Society of Health of London awarded him another certificate for Hygiene of Food Retailing and Catering in 1979.

He was loved by all. His loving wife Asoka will be missing him for ever.

May he Rest in Peace in Heaven!


Freddie Jayarajah:

The amiable banker

Freddie Jayarajah, joined the Bank of Ceylon in 1956. On hearing of his demise, his first Manager S. J. Sparkes, now residing in Australia had this to say:

“I'm saddened very much about Freddie's passing away because I was the one who had the privilege of welcoming him to the banking fraternity. On his first day at work he made such an impression that I knew he was destined for advancement”.

While at the bank Freddie mastered the tricks of foreign banking, which earned him quick promotions attaining the zenith of his career as a Deputy General Manager, with a service period spanning over forty years. He was made the first President of the Foreign Exchange Association which came to be known as the Forex Club and his wealth of knowledge on the subject was invaluable to the other members. The interest of the Bank of Ceylon was his prime concern when fixing interest rates. He was careful so much so that a colleague commented in lighter vein that Freddie was a Jew as far as interest rates are concerned, much to his amusement.

He represented the Bank in several programmes in different countries and the wealth of knowledge he garnered was like an ever flowing stream to the institution. In one such programme organized by the Bank of England, his presentation on the finer points on foreign exchange matters was well acclaimed by the other participants.

He was happily married for forty five years to Noelline whose sudden death caused a void in his life which never could be filled.

Their home with two daughters was built on Christian values. Though saddened he did not keep himself inactive in the affairs of the Church and towards looking after his grandchildren like a doting grandfather and was a very generous person who would burst out into his giggling fit of laughter at the slightest provocation with clean humour which reminds me of our youthful pranks at the Pettah Branch in the late fifties.

His illness which started at the beginning of this year had a debilitating effect on his health and turned out to be ominous but his loved ones bestowed on him all the love and care to recoup him until he was called to the great beyond at the age of seventy five years.

He had no guile in him and was very conscious till the very end, when the over-taker took him to the pearly gates of heaven to be in company with his loved ones who had gone earlier, before the undertaker took over his mortal remains to be disposed as earth to earth, ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

Dear Freddie, may your portion this day be in peace and your dwelling in Heavenly Jerusalem.


Mass Thajon Usuf:

He wished for the Holy Place

It was on December 16, 2008 that Mass Thajon Usuf passed away having performed the Haj at the age of 84. As it is customary for a Muslim to visit his or her kith and kin before leaving to Mecca to perform Haj he too did so. He had told all whom he visited that he wished to die in that holy place but to me he lied by saying that he would come back.

He said so to console me by caressing me with his hands hugging me as I too hugged him. I loved him so much and he too had special care and attention to me, being his only nephew.

His first job was in a co-operative store. Then at the Ceylon Police, a couple of private establishments, the Local Government Ministry, Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministry, Port Cargo Corporation and from there to Maclarens at Dubai. Having returned to Sri Lanka, his one time boss of the Trincomalee harbour the late Rear Admiral Rajan Kadigamar, the Ceylon Shipping Corporation Chairman offered him the Post of Chairman's Secretary in 1977.

Thereafter he worked at the General Treasury and left to rest as he fell sick. Though he was well treated by eminent cardiologist Dr. Ruwan Ekanayake for cardiac problems, he died of pneumonia.

He was so fortunate to have the opportunity of having moved with great men like the late Prime Ministers S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Sir John Kotalawela and Civil Servant bosses like K.N. Jilla of the Port Cargo Corporation, M.L.D. Casperz and Lionel Fernando of the Ceylon Shipping Corporation and Mrs Jayasinghe, Head of PERC (Treasury).

Those bosses had such great sincerity and confidence in him that they would discuss both official and other contemporary matters with jests as well, as he had a jovial mind. He had related stories of such things to me.

He participated in the Bandung Conference and the United Nations Conferences as a precise writer where his services were highly appreciated. His wife, Yuhan, pre-deceased him and his two sons (Ramzan, a doctor and Lamin, an attorney-at-law), Thasleema and Dilani, the two daughters are all doing well in their fields of employment. He loved sports and had played football for the Police. He was one of the oldest members of the YMCA, Fort. Playing drafts was his favourite sports and then, carrom. He had a keen interest in cricket too. He spent most of his weekends until 1967 at our home playing drafts with my late father.

Being a book-worm his worldly knowledge was vast. When I was with him I would gain knowledge on various matters during any of our conversation. He was a writer of outstanding ability and a talented versifier in English and was a ‘walking dictionary’. I would ask him how he was able to write so brilliantly. He would say that, in his learning he would write and in his writing he would learn.

There were a lot who sought his advice whether on official matters or personal affairs. Being religious, he had a special talent of reciting the Holy Quran in the most perfect manner and had close connections with the mosque wherever he was residing.

He served as the Secretary to the Board of Trustees at the popular Wekanda Jummah mosque in Colombo 2.


Senasingha de Silva Jayaratne:

An absolutely methodical worker

Senasingha de Silva Jayaratne was born on 28th August 1912 in the village of Gorakagoda in Balapitiya and was educated at Siddhartha Vidyalaya in Balapitiya. After passing the ESLC Examination young Senasinghe joined the Postal Department as a Sub Post Master in 1930. He created history in the postal service by becoming the first Post Master to pass the Government Accountants Examination in 1951 during which year he was elevated to the position of an Accountant in the Government Accountants' Service. During the last ten years of his work life, he was attached to the General Treasury as the Deputy Director of Finance. During this time he also served as a Director of the National Milk Board as its Treasury Representative. He sat on some of the largest Government Tender Boards as a member. Even in these high positions, his hallmark was honesty to his fingertips. He finally said goodbye to the government service in 1975. He was one of the last government servants to have drawn a Sterling salary from 1930 until his retirement. He was truly a great human being and the best father any son or daughter could aspire to have. By merely looking at him one could tell that he possessed virtuous qualities that were superior to those possessed by many.

Senasinghe was an absolutely methodical worker who gave his very best effort to the duties entrusted to him unwaveringly from his first day at work to his last. His methodical style was put to practice even in his daily chores. In 1939 Senasingha Jayaratne married Elsie Bridgette Rajapakse from Ragama who broke ranks with the Catholic ancestry of her family dynasty to marry Senasinghe. His life revolved around only two axis, namely his family and his job. He was totally and completely full time devoted to these two causes. He was a teetotaller in the true sense of the word. Throughout his work-life he only commuted between home and the office. He was deeply religious. The entire family had to join in the daily chanting of Pirith before dinner. Attendance was compulsory unless one was seriously ill. He had very simple food habits which explains his life span of nearly a century free of any major illness. Even in his final years he was not on any medication.

Senasingha enjoyed an extremely harmonious married life with deep respect and admiration for each other. They were blessed with six children only one of whom was a girl. Unfortunately two of his children died of illnesses while he was alive.

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana!


Horace Perera:

A respected teacher

I was very sad to read the obituary of Horace Perera in the newspapers. He was one of the most respected and loved teachers who will be remembered by his students for his simple ways and for the vast knowledge he imparted to them.

I read with interest the appreciation on Horace Perera written by Jennette Cabraal in the Daily News of June 5, 2012.

I too would like to narrate something which shows the genuine good nature of the late Horace Perera.

It was in 1954 when we were in the University Entrance class at Musaeus College that I gave him my autograph album to pen a few words and this is what he wrote:

Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.

This is good advice to all of us. May his soul Rest in Peace!


Aloysius SilvaL:

He helped to uplift the needy

Aloysius Silva, retired Director of Education passed away recently and his funeral took place before a large and distinguished crowd at the Maharagama Public Cemetery.

Aloysius Silva was residing at Temple Road in Maharagama and was a very popular character in the neighbourhood.

After his retirement, he committed himself to serving the people by engaging in social activities.

He was instrumental in uplifting the social standards of mainly the poor people in the Maharagama area, by his social activities.

His popularity was such that he was elected as the President of the Pensioners' Society of Maharagama, which position he held for quite some time.

He maintained close and cordial relationships with everybody from Prime Minister to the poorest of the poor.

Above all Aloysius was well known for his dedication towards Buddhism.

He was present at all functions which were held in the temple and won the respect of the Chief Incumbent of the temple. Aloysius was also a very kind hearted person who never turned away anyone who sought his assistance.

In fact, his association with the people of the area was so close that everybody deeply felt his loss after his untimely demise. We never expected his sudden death. In any even, he had to continue his Sansara journey.

May he attain the Bliss of Nirwana!


N.P.G. Mendis Silva:

He had an abiding faith in religious customs

N.P.G. Mendis Silva a reputed Provincial Journalist and well known social worker of Matara passed away at the age of 89 recently. He was a retired English teacher who during his time performed his duties with dedication and honesty in the post to which he was attached. He served as a provincial correspondent in Matara and was attached to the Daily News, Observer, Janatha, Island, Davasa, and Sun newspapers. He was brilliant in both English and Sinhala languages.

Mendis Silva held an abiding faith in religious customs and observances. He was always calm and considerate. I have never seen him in an angry mood. I associated him as a Provincial Journalist for several years.

He was considerate to local journalists and friends in the Matara area and helped them in their hour of need. Mendis Silva is no more with is. But we will never forget him. He was so closely associated with all of us.

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana !

 

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