Day Care Centre for Vipulasena elders            

The government’s recent decision to introduce legislation to punish guardians, who neglect and ill treat elders in their charge was hailed by Pancha.

A fervent champion of the “under-dogs,” he immediately decided to launch a similar campaign of his own.
This was after he experienced several instances of abuse of elderly folk at Vipulasena Mawatha, as well as, in the by lanes adjoining it.

“Aluth neethiya yatathe, mama pudgalikavama megana balagannava. Me vedahitiyanta karadara karana ayata viruddhava, policiyata peminili karala, ovunta Honda danduvamak laba denava”. (“With this new law in force, I will personally ‘take care’ of all those who harass the elderly residents in their care and have them fined and locked up after informing the police,”) he vowed.
Since many of these guardians/carers were ignorant about the Rights of the elders in their charge he decided to first educate them about these Rights. If they continued to ignore them, they would be taken to court he warned.

To start off their worthy campaign, Pancha and his able campaign partner Piyasena, first compiled a list of all the elders living in and around Vipulasena Mawatha. For this, they personally visited every home. During these visits they discovered another sad truth, apart from the physical and mental torment that some of them said they were subjected to, many elders complained that, they were also very lonely and suffered from depression as a result.

Living mostly with their extended families, the members, who were out of the house all day and forced to spend their day indoors with nothing to do and no place to go, they had become withdrawn and lived in a world of their own.

“Me vedihitiyan anik ayatha ekke ashraya karanne kamathii. Egollana thavath kenek ekka katha karanne kamathi. Egollannta ahantha kiyawanne kamathi: natyhthnam egollo ekke podi gamank yanne. Boho ayata thavath kenek ekke katha kireemata athi nidahas nathi nisa, egollanta hongak manasika lede atha”. (“ These old folks crave for company. They long to have someone to talk to them, to read to them, or go for a walk with them. Since they don’t have any company for most part of the day, we found that, many of them had developed mental problems, as well,”) Pancha told us.

That was, when his partner Piyasena came up with the bright idea of starting a Day Care Centre for the Elderly at Vipulasena Mawatha.

“ Meka amaru deyak nevei. Thenak netthnam, apita langa pansele hamuduruwagen avasra arang, davasata tika kalakata mevani sevayk, ape mahalu ayata laasthi karanne puluwan vei. Avasaran dune naththnam, langa palliye paduru vahansegen his kamarayak illaganne puluwan. Naththnam, kovile karamarayak illagnne puluwan”. ( This is not a difficult task. All we need to do, is to ask permission from the priest in charge of the nearby temple to help us in this worthy cause on behalf of our elders. If he refuses we can approach the church or the kovil,” he added.

Without further delay they then set off to the nearby temple to seek permission from the priest for their new Day Care Centre. It would function from 10 a.m to 12 noon. Alternatively, it could operate from 2 p.m to 5 p.m, which was the time, their families returned from work they told him.

Duly impressed by the idea, as well as the enthusiasm of the duo, the priest readily agreed to their request.
Their next task was to pay some house visits. This was to get a head count of those who wished to attend the new day care centre. A total of 30 elders signed up gladly, saying they would await the opening of the new centre with much anticipation.

The next task was their most difficult one: devising ways of entertaining these elders. As they said, this seemingly easy task was compounded by the wide age differences of the target group, whose ages ranged from 60 to 85 years and their varying physical disabilities.

However, after putting their heads together to pool ideas, and after much discussion and consultation with the elders themselves, the duo came up with a comprehensive list of activities to suit all the elders. They included games requiring physical skills as well as, mental skills: such as scrabble, crossword puzzles, board games, carom, bridge etc. They also invented games, such as: “ Let’s pretend”, where the elders could imitate anyone they wanted to. Since, many of them were averse to the current political jinks of our jumbo cabinet of ministers, most of them opted to imitate the latest pranks of their ‘MOST HATED POLITICIAN.’ This would soon prove to be a great hit, once the new centre came into operation.

The day care was opened with much fan fare, shortly after May Day, with Pancha’s papara band of merry musicians playing the National Anthem with gusto, followed by a scintillating round of popular baila numbers, with the elders, hip hopping and toe hopping, with gay abandon.

Kopi Kade Sarath with his usual generosity, provided the refreshments gratis.
The centre was blessed by three religious dignitaries from the temple, church and kovil. Other invitees included the Vipulasena residents, who having unanimously approved of Pancha’s latest project, offered to help him with refreshments, books and games for an indefinite period of time.

Pancha has lined up a number of activities for the near future; a monthly medical check up by a doctor, who has volunteered his services free, a talk on ‘Diseases of the elderly and how to avoid them,” a cookery demonstration, in which the elders could participate and an outing to the Vihara Maha Devi park and the museum are all on the cards, he tells me.
I wish him good luck and success to his newest venture, when I pass him, on my way to work…


Young artists exhibit their ‘experiments’

By Poornima Ravishan Wijemanne
Sankalana 2008, a painting exhibition by Tharindu Jayasinghe and Prabuddhi Keshara was opened for public on the May 3 and will continue till May 5 at the Lionel Wendt Gallery.

According to these young artists, this exhibition is a showcase of their “experiments.” “The purpose of having this exhibition was for us to experiment with different techniques and see what it is possible to do with colours,” said Jayasinghe, a student of the Social Sciences Faculty of the Kelaniya University.

“Also, this was our way of assessing our talent, seeing how the people will receive our art,” added Keshara a former student of Gampaha Yashodara Balika Vidyalaya, now awaiting university admission.

The pair had been trying to organise the event for some time but the effort had become successful only now. “An exhibition is also a good opportunity for us to improve ourselves. With a firm purpose to force us to keep drawing, we can keep the creative vein alive,” said Jayasinghe.

The paintings are not centred on any singular theme. Even individually, the paintings do not carry any ‘message;’ they are just exercises in various techniques. Various landscapes, still-life images, portraits are drawn with water colours, oil paint and pastels. In one painting, a stone bridge over a river is drawn with the translucence of water colours, there a statue of the Buddha is formed with the opaqueness of pastels – the artists show that they have a fair knowledge of techniques, and of contrastingly different ones.

By looking at a painting, a person can enjoy the colours, appreciate the skill with which a certain impression is contained in a certain technique, reproduced in a piece of scenery and then immediately see the decorative value of this sort of art. But the paintings do not have a story to tell. Of the collection, the Bridge drawn by Jaysinghe, with water colours does communicate some haunting sense of loneliness, coldness and hollowness. But most of the rest are only capable of producing a momentary impression.

When asked whether they were interested in giving a ‘message’ through their painting, they said that for them prowess of technique comes foremost. “For now, the most important thing for us is improving our techniques. And since this is our first exhibition, we are keen to show people how much we know about the traditional techniques,” said Jaysinghe.

Commenting on the present day Sri Lankan art scene, they said that talent does exist, but in Sri Lanka, it is not identified without formal academic qualifications. “We are trying to first make a name for ourselves by qualifying ourselves formally for what we do. I think it is the best way that we can make the people accept what we have to say to them,” said Keshara.




                                                                                                                      The Degree Show at Barefoot Gallery         

Attention-grabbing kaleidoscope of imagination

By Shabna Cader
The Degree Show is the first off-campus exhibition of the final year students of the Visual Art and Design Unit of the University of Kelaniya.

The exhibition displays a selection of installations, paintings and video art, aimed to express their visual approaches and imagination. The creations are based on their own life experiences and values.

The creations of 10 students from the university are on display at the Barefoot Gallery from April 24 to May 10. The stunning style of design, the brilliant colours of the rainbow, and sheer passion of their work is indescribable. As I entered the gallery, I was amazed by their abilities and their thoughts and ideas intrigued me.

Fantasy Friends by P.R. Sanjula Kaumudi Karunarathna was a spectacular work of art. Consisting of perhaps 1,000 beads and mini-bulbs, it also included transistors and glass balls. The piece was created on two walls and took up part of the ground as well.
Explaining the inspiration behind her creation, Sanjula said, “I have an enormous interest in extraterrestrial life. Their existence is quite a common question that all people ask and I’m trying to answer the questions of whether they are real, where they come from, etc., through my work. I do believe they exist and that there is life other than on earth. The idea of my art work explains that these creatures do visit earth on occasions – there has been much evidence to prove this – and that they cannot live here because of the corruption and development and therefore return to their home,” she said.

Madduma Patabendige Shyamali’s work is called The Silent Protest. Each item in her work has a meaning.
“Almost everyday we hear news about abortions, and everyone talks about it but I feel that the news about it is very limited. In villages it is talked about secretly. I feel that it is a subject that is as important as the war and politics in our country. I want to reveal what the newspapers don’t report about the abortions in our country. I used many baby bottles to symbolise a woman, as it does have that sort of a shape, and also the picture on the cover is of pretty pictures. But underneath all the prettiness, there are hidden meanings,” she explained.

“For the babies I used flower buds as they say babies are like yet-to-bloom flowers. I took the use of such buds also to symbolise the taking away of the life of babies before they are born. The wires I used to connect the ‘woman’ or ‘mother’ to child is like the connections between a mother and child when the child is in the womb. It is an endless process therefore I took use of the entire wall for my art,” Shyamali added.

Other works include Rebuilding of My Body by J.M. Chithrapali Champa Kumari using acrylic on canvas, photos and cloth; Western Province by H.A.N. Chandani Hatharasinghe consisted of acrylic on three printed maps; Masochism by W.L. Sandun Mahesh Weerasinghe was of many mother boards, CD cases, photos and insects; Dream Zone by B.M.C.C. Krishantha Basnayake using oil on glass balls, a pillow and lots of colorful thread.

Still Life by M.A. Nelika Lakmini was of oil on four canvases; Cooked Fashion by N.A. Amali Shrimani Kumari consisted of acrylic on pans; My Share of Tsunami by R.M. Duminda Subhashana was painted on broken-down car doors and revolved around his experiences in Puttalam; and a work that was left untitled by W.T. Dammika Sirimanne consisted of beans and wires of various colours, cloth, ribbon and thread.