By Dimithri Wijesinghe
Over the past 40 days, Lashan Sachintha Premaratne has delivered dry ration packs with sufficient items for two weeks, to over 3,000 families in the Kurunegala, Colombo, and Gampaha areas.
Sachintha’s initiative – “Youth To Rebuild” – which essentially consists of himself, his family, and his friends originally set out to conduct social services as and when they can in early November 2019.
Sachintha shared that he came up with the initiative during a discussion where he wished that people would and could operate on their own deadlines and motives, as opposed to the agendas set up by the motivations surrounding politics.
They started out by promoting local and small-scale entrepreneurships, businesses, helping the needy, and spreading the message of respecting and caring for your elders. Also, spreading the message of equality, that is providing assistance to the differently abled so that they do not feel less than or different.
Since its beginnings late last year, Sachintha has made attempts to better his community as best he could and as the global pandemic spread, he and his family set out to do what little they can to provide aid to their community.
He said that upon doing a personal budget assessment of what he and his family could afford at first, they decided to provide ration packs to 500 families. He said they set out to go ahead with the initial plan and after they hit their goal upon sharing what they’ve been up to on social media, he received a ton of support and encouragement and many people sent in donations.
Having received the onslaught of donations from his friends and through people who got the word out, he was able to grow his total to over 3,000 families, and additionally he was also able to deliver 5,000 masks to the armed forces and other essential service providers.
He added that he has kept the identities of those receiving aid anonymous, and so those who reach out to him looking for aid need not worry about any backlash or stigmatisation.
He stated that he contacted the Kadawatha and Dematagoda Police Stations in order to acquire a curfew pass which allowed him to drive his own vehicle around those areas and make the deliveries. He then acquired permission from the DIG (Deputy Inspector General of Police) offices to deliver in the Kurunegala, Colombo, and Gampaha areas.
Sachintha shared that while many people have had a hard time believing it, he truly has no ulterior motive such as the intentions of politics and he wishes to stress that he has no intention of running for office; he simply wishes to contribute and create a trend where helping those in need is trendy.
As for the future, Sachintha shared that he has made plans and various efforts have been put in place to exponentially increase the number of families he is able to reach, but he is uncertain of how those goals will be met. He shared that while he never actually asked for donations or assistance, he was heartened by the initiative taken by those who follow him and he is grateful for it. “I have seen some people who have been having a cup of tea to substitute for a meal and this has spurred me on to more,” he said.
About his Youth to Rebuild initiative he said: “This is a forum to emphasise that there is still hope in rebuilding this country. We as Sri Lankans should all get together to revise the system.”
Sachintha believes greatly in the power of the people; how much impact one person can make with one small deed. He encourages everyone to look to themselves and recognise their fortune and privilege. “If you are able to survive, it is because of the good that you have done in a past life, and so you find yourself to be part of the fortunate,” he said, adding: “And if you are part of the fortunate, then think that maybe it is your duty to help those who are not.”
He said the help that you provide need not be in grand scale or through him and his initiative, but it can simply be you making a move on your own, where you decide to help one person today; look to your neighbour, observe them, and see what you can to make their situation just a little bit better.