'There's nothing quite like meeting these students.'
Updated: Sep 7
Earlier this month, LBW Trust Founding Director, Mike Coward visited our partner, Candle Aid in Sri Lanka to meet some of the amazing students who have benefited from LBW Trust education support.
Mike shared his experience below:
It was a joy this month to meet some of our Sri Lankan students who set aside time to visit Candle Aid at Moratuwa on the southern outskirts of Colombo.
The Trust has a wonderful working relationship with Candle Aid and its charismatic founder president, Elmo Jayawardena and his wife, Dil, the organisation’s indefatigable Executive Director.
Operating from a house that was formerly the Jayawardena family home, Candle Aid was founded in 1995 as the Association for Lighting a Candle (AFLAC) until a pesky American insurance company with the same acronym threatened legal action.
Established to the maxim that “it is better by far to light a single candle than to curse the darkness”, Candle Aid runs education, food and health projects throughout the country which is currently beset by complex political and economic challenges.
Furthermore, it conducts special programs to ensure the self-empowerment of women and to assist children with special needs and has initiatives designated as Mother and Child; Gift-a-Meal and Kidney Patients’ Assistance.
Some of the students travelled considerable distances from outlying towns and villages to reach Moratuwa to personally express their gratitude to the LBW Trust for the support of their education.
Each of the students spoke of their pride in being able to make personal testimonies and welcomed a first-hand explanation of the work undertaken by the Trust in Sri Lanka and beyond.
In her warm welcome to me and my partner Peter Boully who captured the gathering on video, Dil spoke of her gratitude and pride that the LBW Trust had funded more than 500 scholarships and was committed to continuing its association.
And to her great joy, many graduates are now voluntary co-ordinators of some of Candle Aid’s most critical programmes – especially the food and gift-a-meal enterprises.
Elmo, 75, a celebrated pilot with Singapore Airlines in pomp, spoke of retirement as a rich period in life to “give back”. He quoted Mahatma Gandhi and encouraged everyone in the room – Candle Aid staff as well as students – to always act with kindness.
It was a most uplifting meeting for all involved.
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With heartfelt thanks,
The LBW Trust