It takes an Organizing Committee Chairman like Mohan Chandramohan, the successful businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist, to make a fundraiser, not only classy and enjoyable, but to raise large sums of money for a good cause.
Well known champion fast bowler of Sri Lankan and World Cricket, Murali is not only the Manager of the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka, but he is a spokesman who has a passion for this organization which was started in Seenigama (near Hikkaduwa) in 1999 by Kushil Gunasekera who is the Founder. The Foundation of Goodness is aptly named, and as Murali puts it, “Be Good, Do Good”. Their trip toLos Angeleswas organized by Mohan through his friendship with Ajith “Ando” Dias. The fundraiser was sponsored by the Sri Lanka America Association of Southern California and the Sri Lanka Foundation. There were also many others in the Committee who helped make this event a success.
The Foundation of Goodness is dedicated to taking care of the needs of the underprivileged, with health, well being, community development, sports development, housing and education as some of their aims. Murali, as Manager and spokesman, gives inspiration to others to do what they can to help brighten the lives of those who would otherwise be forgotten. The President ofSri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa generously allocated 50 acres in Mankulam for this project which will help those in the North and East of Sri Lanka.
Mohan and Geeta Chandramohan hosted a cocktail and dinner party at the historic and famous Jonathan Club last Friday. The Jonathan Club is an exclusive, first class Private Club in the heart of downtownLos Angeles. Murali was the Chief Guest, with Aravinda and Sanath being Guests of Honour. It was an evening of enjoyment with excellent food and great music. While this was an evening for old friends to socialize, Mohan and Geeta did not lose track of its purpose. The Founder of the Foundation of Goodness presented an overview of the organization and its vision and goals. Los Angeles Physician Dr. Lareef Idroos, himself a Cricket Captain of yesteryear inSri Lanka, publicly interviewed Murali and asked him some pointed questions referring to cricket as well as the Foundation. Murali was very candid and came off as being a person who is sincere about his involvement in the Foundation. It was very impressive and heart warming to know that a world famous sportsman can be so unaffected and so giving.
The next day was the Gala Fundraiser Event in Aid of the Foundation of Goodness. About four hundred people paid 150 dollars each to be with the famous cricketers and dine at the fabulous Sheraton Gateway Hotel inLos Angeles. An enjoyable evening indeed with a full course dinner, dancing to two bands, raffles of trips to Sri Lanka, Auctions of unique jewellery donated by Munir and Habiba Akbar, door prizes, photo opportunities with the cricketers etc. Once again, the emphasis was on the focus of the purpose of the event, which was to be a fundraiser. Although it is too early to know exactly how much was raised, it is obvious with the (sold out) turnout and monies collected from raffles, souvenirs advertisements, auctions and photo opportunities, that the funds raised were substantial.
This is the largest fundraising event by any organization in the history of Southern California. Congratulations to Mohan, Geeta and the Committee. This event also brought the Sri Lankan community in Southern Californiatogether, which shows that when we work as one, nothing is impossible. Quoting Martin Luther King Jr. in the event souvenir, Rohendra and Gihan Atapattu said it best “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”
If you were unable to attend the functions and you want to make a donation, please go to www.unconditionalcompassion.org
Mike: Here is 3 minute video clip I prepared for the LA fund raiser which to date has collected over $250,000. The clip is an extract of Sanga’s speech about Seenigama project. Lareef Idroos interviewed Murali who eloquently expressed the need to educate the youth in the North & the East to avoid a repetition of the 30 year struggle that SL went through. I also forwarded a video of the dinner. Nandi [agianst whom i played cricket for St. Aloysius when he represented Richmond].
President Emeritus, International Institute of Space Law (IISL). Former, Deputy Director-General, United Nations Office at Vienna and Director United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
VIDEO TEXT: EXTRACTED PART OF SANGAKARA’S SPEECH:
The emergence of cricket and the new role of cricket within Sri Lankan society also meant that cricketers had bigger responsibilities than merely playing on the field. We needed to live positive lifestyles off the field and we need to also give back. The same people that applaud us every game need us to contribute back positively to their lives. We needed to inspire not just on the field but also off it.
The Tsunami was one such event. The death and destruction left in its wake was a blow our country could not afford. We were inNew Zealandplaying our first ODI. We had played badly and were sitting disappointed in the dressing room when, as usual, Sanath’s phone started beeping. He read the SMS and told us a strange thing had just happened back home where “waves from the sea had flooded some areas”. Initially we weren’t too worried, assuming that it must have been a freak tide. It was only when we were back in the hotel watching the news coverage that we realized the magnitude of the devastation.
It was horrifying to watch footage of the waves sweeping through coastal towns and washing away in the blink of an eye the lives of thousands. We could not believe that it happened. We called home to check what is happening. “Is it true?” we asked. “How can the pictures be real?” we thought.
All we wanted to do was to go back home to be our families and stand together with our people. I remember landing at the airport on 31 December, a night when the whole of Colombo is normally light-up for the festivities, a time of music and laughter. But the town was empty and dark, the mood depressed and silent with sorrow. While we were thinking as to how we could help, Murali was quick to provide the inspiration. Murali is a guy who has been pulled from all sides during his career, but he’s always stood only alongside his team-mates and countrymen. Without any hesitation, he was on the phone to his contacts both local and foreign and in a matter of days along with the World Food Programme he had organised container loads of basic necessities of food, water and clothing to be distributed to the affected areas and people. Amazingly, refusing to delegate the responsibility of distribution to the concerned authorities, he took it upon himself to accompany the convoys. It was my good fortune to be invited to join him. We visited shelter camps run by the Army and the LTTE and even some administered in partnership between them. Two bitter warring factions brought together to help people in a time of need.
The role the cricketers played in their personal capacities for post tsunami relief and re building was worthy of the trust the people of a nation had in them. Murali again stands out. His Seenigama project with his manager Kushil Gunasekera, which I know the MCC has supported with on-going funding of 30,000 pounds a year, which included the rebuilding of over 1000 homes, was amazing.