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Life built up with effort -- Wimalaweera Dissanayaka who reached position of minister!


Life built up with effort -- Wimalaweera Dissanayaka who reached position of minister!

The life story of Mr. Wimalaweera Dissanayaka, member of parliament of Amparai who took his oaths as state minister of wild life recently having reached the apex with effort behind his achievement was a subject which was the topic in social media. 

He was born to a poverty stricken family in Eastern province and was  even deprived of schooling.
However that did not prevent him from earning a degree later from a university. He has stated that during the time he was passing through a dark period he even washed dishes at a hotel and at another time did labour-work here and there. 

Wimalaweera Dissanayaka was born to Podi Nona and Thissa Dissanayaka in a family of six children and had his education at Madeiyawa Junior School; but because of financial impediments he could not pursue his studies further. In fact, Dissanayaka's schooling ended up with sixth standard. He had later had walked everywhere searching for labour jobs and even engaged in cutting grass for cattle and also was a helper in mixing cement for a house which was in the process of being built, he has said. Thus he ad tried to be a strength to the family by washing dishes in hotels and chopping firewood. 

By and by in the end this entire family has abandoned Kegalle and proceeded to Newguna area in Amparai. Sine the Hingurana sugar company had started in that period he has started working there as there was labour-work available for most people, it is said. It is understood that having secured a labourer job at Hingurana sugar company when he was in his 16th year had to trek 15 kilometres from Newguna to Digawapi with the mammoty on his shoulders. 

What this young man used to do whenever he got some free time was to engage in reading. It was his habit to read every obituary notice and continuously anything in a newspaper which he would get hold of. In this manner, he had finished reading a host of publications starting from novels of Demon Ananda priced at 75 cents upto the Mahavanshaya. 

Then one day he thought to himself, 'now of course am feeling something heavy on my head'. With this feeling coming into his head, he thought of sitting for the ordinary level examination and started preparing for it and there was only three months for the ordinary level exam. He collected necessary books from libraries with great difficulty. Now what Dissanayaka would do when getting some free moments when engaged during work with the mammoty inside canesugar plantations is simply the job of studying. On some days he is called upon to keep watch at nights on the sugarcane plantation. On such days he would keep a kerosene lamp and keep on reading books. In this way he would tire himself reading books for a period of three months. 

Finally he sat for the exam. Results came. He has been successful in seven subjects with four credits. But has failed in Maths. Thus once again he begins to prepare himself for that subject. For this purpose he obtains leave from his job and goes in search of a mother of a friend just a month before the exam. Though she is not a teacher, she is able to explain the subject well. In the end Dissanayaka passes the subject with a credit. From that day onwards he begins to apply for jobs; but to no avail. Finally he approaches a strong UNP minister in Amparai and solicits a job. This person then makes a fuss, saying "You are an SLFPer ... can't give a job for you!" So it doesn't come right. 

This young undefeatable young man then thinks of writing for his advanced level in any case then collects Rs. 35 for it with great difficulty. Now only three months left for the exam. Somehow or other he manages to find what is necessary for it and then gets the books required for it. For this purpose he selects Political science, Sinhalese, Economics, Buddhist civilization. Finally gets down to studies. Studies by breaking rest. Keeps studying in hot sun as before among those sugarcane trees. After finishing the sugarcane duties allotted to him, gets to a side and starts studying once again. In this way he sticks to his studies diligently and finally faces the exam. 

In the end, people in my family and friends were waiting till resuls came. Now comes the results. Raising everybody's hopes, Dissanayaka has passed the advanced level exam in flying colours that he is eligible to gain entrance to any university in the island. There are many who even manage to even scrape through the exam by studying methodically under many a teacher. But Dissanayaka achieved this heroism by studying on his own after studying without any teacher and within the space of three months. 

Subsequently he forwarded an application to enter the university. Accordingly he received a letter granting him permission to enter the university of Colombo. He got ready for it; but from another letter he received, his hopes were dashed and that was requesting for school details of five years. This young man who chucked up school after six ... how can he provide such details? Now his campus dreams began to drift apart.   

Under the above circumstances he forwarded his heartache through an appeal to Mr. Stanley Kalpage who was then head of university grants commission. Mr. Stanley Kalpage who saw the appeal of this tiring young man was filled with sympathy. Thus, on a temporary basis he was enrolled as an internal student of Colombo university. 

During that era universities  began to be closed down as a result of student conflicts and thus universities were closed from 1987 to 90. Dissanayaka had to make a big effort to save his life during that time. 

Dissanayaka who was a skillful labourer amidst sugarcane plants now happened to end up as an outstanding character at the university. Therefore he was once chosen as the secretary of the student association. During those days if one fails in university exams, Mahapola aid was withheld. Under such conditions Dissanayaka had discussions with the university grants commission and paved a way for those monies to be paid back to those who failed and to retrieve the arrears. In addition, he took steps to settle library issues, canteen problems, problems relating to meals etcetera. Though students today are not aware as to who attended to it, he finds some happiness to see them enjoying those benefits, Wimalaweera Dissanayaka brings back those memories, unravelling all that to Island newspaper. 

He finally leaves Colombo university after 7 long years with as an honours graduate. Dissanayaka next finds his appointment as general manager of Amparai Weeragoda Co-operative society and it is then that his journey next begins. 

Dissanayaka who bid goodbye to school from sixth standard next makes himself present once again in school and that is as a political science teacher at D.S. Senanayaka national school in the year 1993. He then is instrumental in reviving broken down teacher associations and giving a new life for the teacher-struggle thereby bringing a number of benefits to teachers. 

He next contests Damana provincial council in year '94 and becomes its opposition leader. Incidentally it was this extra-ordinary character called Wimalaweera Dissanayaka who bade goodbye to school in sixth standard finally finished up securing the post-degree education certificate from university of Peradeniya. 

He comes forward as a candidate from Podu Jana Eksath Peramuna from Digamadulla in the general election of 2000. On that occasion he had only Rs. 300 with him but on support and help of his comrades and friends he was fortunate enough to defeat political stalwarts and enter parliament. Once again in the year 2008 he is chosen for East provincial council with a majority. On that occasion it is he who is given the post of education, lands, transport and cultural minister from East provincial council. Thus it is this curly-haired labourer who worked in sugarcane plantations those days who was bestowed the steering-wheel of education in the East ... the tender young fellow who those days chucked up education from sixth standard in Madeiyawa College and chopped firewood and washed plates in hotels. 

From then onwards schools which were destroyed by war began to be built up; closed down schools were reopened ... the programme known as good education which did not destroy brains of students began to dawn. Steps were taken to push forward education of Eastern province which at that time happened to be the last on that list. It was this same Dissanayaka who was selected for East provincial council in the year 2013 and was capable of acquiring all political credit which was earlier available to him.

Routes were made available for several hamlets where no bus ever travelled before thus providing transport facilities and electricity was provided for the people who spent their nights with the light of a bottle-lamp. Not only education ... maximum support was given to the public including health and that was by working about 18 hours a day. Dissanayaka was an altruist who was a benevolent character who would hasten to offer any cash in his pocket whenever he saw sorrow and pain of a helpless individual. He would buy books etcetera to children who was unable to get those things .. and that was from his salary. He would recall moments of his past when he was in dire circumstances himself not being able to go to school without books. This wonderful man who cared less for money by flaunting his powers as a minister began to sail further up in the muddy pit of politics. Therefore like some other politicians he was not lured to sell his profession for money. Neither was he interested in building up hotels beside a wewa or sea beach. 

This wonderful character who did not betray his political soul for the sake of rupees and cents is presently a politician in parliament. Someone who comes out with some amusing expressions in parliament and has turned out to be someone who brings out extracts from literature and creates humorous stories. He thus took leadership into his hands in Digamadulla district to oust the government without going behind Ranil - Sajith. This tireless man takes his oaths as minister of state by giving a ray of bright hope to the people of Digamadulla. 

- Information: Hemantha Shrilal



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