"I will continue to help as long as I can" -
By Shanika Sriyananda
It was at midnight that a 'mother' reached a house in a remote
village in search of a 'daughter'. Her desire to trace the 'daughter'
was shattered as she had already left that house as she could not
tolerate ill-treatment any more.
Mrs. Kusum Wickramanayake with the mothers of fallen war heroes
Without knowing her whereabouts she left the home determined to find
Her staff kept on dialling the number that was given by a close
relative of the 'daughter'. Fortunately, one fine day a male answered
the phone and told her where the 'daughter' was. The mother detected the
daughter and the story ended happily making the 'daughter' a recipient
of the country's first ever project to make them financially stable to
look after their own affairs.
The 'mother' in this story is Mrs. Kusum Wickramanayake, the wife of
the Prime Minister and the 'daughter' is a mother of a fallen hero.
"The mothers of war heroes are suffering in the hands of cruel
daughters-in-law. After a few months of the death of the soldiers, the
doors of their own houses are shut to them. With no means of earning a
living they were depended on whatever earnings that were sent by their
soldier sons. But when they died the daughters in law ill treat them",
Mrs. Wickramanayake said.
Listening to hundreds of similar stories, Mrs. Wickramanayake too
suffered with them as she could not help them. Apart from these pathetic
stories, a letter written with trembling handwriting motivated her to
embark on a journey which would turn a new leaf in the history of the
The day her husband was sworn in as the Prime Minister of this
country, the plea of that old mother reverberated in her ears. " I do
not have a place to go. If my son is alive this would not have happened
to me. Please help me to live". This gave birth to a project called 'Virumawa
Mrs. Wickramanayake had become a mother to over 100 mothers whose
sons have sacrificed their young lives to protect the country from the
LTTE terrorists last year.
Celebrating its second session, another batch of 200 mothers will be
awarded certificates of financial assistance on May 13.
"No one knew what was happening at home after the death of a married
soldier. The government compensated only the immediate family and the
parents were left aside. No consideration was given to them. After
getting the compensation, the daughters-in-law had asked them to leave
the house. If not they will be ill treated until they leave the house",
According to Mrs. Wickramanayake, in many families the
daughters-in-law have brought their mothers home. "I do not say all of
them are the same but a majority of them treated their mothers-in-law
badly. How cruel they are, some had not handed the letters that we had
sent to them asking to come to receive the financial support", she said.
Having started without a cent from the government, the state banks
and philanthropists had helped to make her dream come true. Each mother
will receive Rs. 1,000 monthly under this program for a year. Now those
who wish to start self employment will be assisted further.
"This time we will give 200 sawing machines to each of them to start
self employment because the financial assistance under this project is
only for one year.", Mrs. Wickramanayake said.
A special badge with their picture and the logo of the 'Virumawa
Surakimu Sathkaraya' have been given to these mothers and those who do
not have NICs can produce the badge at the bank to draw the money.
" The other benefit of the badge is these mothers will be given
priority when they go to any government institutions", she said. Can a
mother stop grievening for a lost son? No. A mother is a mother for
life. She will be there in the ups and downs of lives. She will moan for
him until her death. According to Mrs. Wickramanayake, wants these
mothers to realise that it is time to look after themselves and they
cannot cry throughout their lives.
"I want to shed some rays of light to their lives. I want to end them
suffering in their own houses simply as they do not have money", she
According to statistics, there are over 22,000 mothers whose sons
died during the war.
But only 650 were registered and Mrs. Wickramanayake has become a
'mother' for over 300 mothers now. She has plans for 2009 too and a well
wisher has already come forward to help another 100 mothers.
"I will be the happiest woman on this earth. I did not think that
this would be successful. I always wanted the government to recognise
the value of these mothers who are as brave as their sons. If these
mothers were scared they would not send their sons to the battle fields.
Now the President Mahinda Rajapaksa has obtained Cabinet approval to
pay 25 percent of the compensation of each fallen soldier to his
parents", she said.
Mrs. Wickramanayake, who is determined to continue her endeavour
further said that now the lives of these mothers would not be an agony
as there is some kind of continuous financial assistance from the state
The only wealth of these mothers, who 'donated' sons to fight for the
country, are the pictures of the brave soldiers clad in army uniforms.
They are the most forgotten people within their own family and also
"I will continue to help them as long as I can", this is the wish of
this mother who has become a light to the lives of over 300 mothers.