By D.C. Ranatunga
Fifty-two-year-old Martin Rajapakse, a father of three, is lame
and unable to do any hard work. Living near Attanagalla Raja Maha
Vihara on the Haggalla road, he earns his living by selling sweep
tickets in Veyangoda town. On a good day, he earns around Rs.150
from the commission he collects, of one rupee per ticket, but there
are always lean days when sales are low.
has to feed five mouths - his wife and three children. Their 13-year-old
son is mentally retarded and the eldest daughter aged 16 is dumb.
Only the third child, a 12-year-old goes to school. Yet life has
to go on.
is a tough life.To make ends meet is no easy task. He had managed
to get a plot of land (about eight perches) when some government
property was being distributed among the landless in the area. He
put up a shack - about eight by eight feet - out of a few planks.
There was just one room where they cooked, ate and slept. Life was
miserable when it rained. Water would gush into the shack because
the land was at a low level. The three children would then sleep
on the solitary table they had.
Ven.Talalle Chandakitthi Thera, the young monk from the Maharagama
Dharmayatanaya decided to do something in memory of his guru, the
Most Venerable Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayaka Thera, he thought the
best would be to put up a house following the Maha Nayaka Thera's
concept of providing shelter to the poorest of the poor. During
his lifetime, he had arranged for many houses to be built and given
to the homeless in remote villages. A benefactor who had built a
house for a similar cause told him about Martin's family.
Thera didn't waste any time in visiting them. Fortunately a good
Samaritan offered to give them shelter in a shed while the house
was being built.
week later, they went to lay the foundation stone."When the
work was done, someone asked me 'Hamuduruwane, where is the 'mul
gala'? Everybody looked around, we hadn't brought one. I told them
to look for a solid piece of rock. It was cleaned and I chanted
pirith and blessed it," the Thera recollected.
volunteers were to spend the Saturdays doing shramadana. Donations
flowed in when the word spread. Some offered timber and roofing
sheets. The Karuna Trust set up by publisher M.W. Karunaratne was
given the responsibility of managing the finances.
had a batch of about 20 leaving on a Saturday morning in two vans
to do the work. Meals were prepared early morning and taken. They
would work till late in the evening, even till about eight or nine,
and get back," the Thera said.
bedrooms, a sitting room, a kitchen and pantry formed the neat little
cottage which covered an area of about eight perches with a toilet
in the backyard.
six weeks, the house was ready to be opened on the day the commemorative
activities for the late Maha Nayaka Thera were held. Curtains were
hung up, beds were in place with mattresses, sheets, pillows and
mosquito nets. The kitchen was well stocked with heli-walang, plates
and other necessities. Even the lunu pol katta and tuna paha were
neatly arranged on the worktable made of bricks.
Maharagama Dhammasiri Nayake Thera and Venerable Tirikunamale Ananda
Anu Nayaka Thera, the senior monks of the late Maha Nayaka Thera
were present at the handing over ceremony. Monks from the nearby
temple also attended. Having accepted the keys, the family sat in
front of a large photograph of the Maha Nayaka Thera and watched
the neighbours being given dry rations. A sewing machine was gifted
to a woman who earns her living by sewing. A wheelchair was given
to a young disabled girl. Fifty pairs of spectacles were also distributed.
was one of five houses donated in memory of the Maha Nayaka Thera.
Three were built at Maharagama. Janavijaya, the organization founded
by Gangodawila Soma Thera built another at Ambalangoda. For Martin
and his family it is a dream come true.