Sri Lankan excels in Global Scout | Sunday Observer

Sri Lankan excels in Global Scout

Janaprith with other world scout leaders in Azerbaijan
Janaprith with other world scout leaders in Azerbaijan

The world scout body has appointed Janaprith Fernando, Attorney- at- Law, to the prestigious 12 member World Scout Committee. Thus, Fernando creates history as the first ever Sri Lankan to be appointed to this world body. Today, there are 42 million scouts in 169 registered scout establishments worldwide.

This prudent and amiable lawyer recollected his days as a student scout. “I joined the 39th Colombo Scout troop - at S. Thomas’ Prep on Feb 17 1979. Our master in charge was Maurice Weragoda. In 1981, I was a patrol leader and got my President’s Scout badge in 1984”, Janaprith recalls a memorable moment on a local scout camp. The scouts go out on overnight camps, which are eagerly anticipated by the boys. On this camp the boys were keen to climb the Bible Rock and pitch camp at night. The scouts began the tiring ascent and reached the top. Once up there they were dismayed to find that their dinner was going to be somewhat challenging : the reason for this was that the scout carrying the bag of bread had also put a bottle of kerosene oil in the same bag, and the upward momentum had caused the bread to be tainted with kerosene. Considering the long night ahead and the cold winds, the scouts somehow managed to eat and digest the bread! To add to this confusion another scout had forgotten to bring the sleeping bags and the weary boys had to sleep in a cave. Thankfully, they were all well the next morning, to everyone’s delight.

Janaprith went on his first local Scout Jamboree, an annual event in 1983 to Anuradhapura. In recognition of his leadership ability he was selected to represent Sri Lanka at the World Jamboree in 1984, travelling to Australia. After his A/L exams he was keen to become a doctor. Yet, owing to the insurgencies of that era there were delays in admission and he was directed to Law College. Here, the good lessons instilled by scouting elevated him to success and he graduated as an Attorney. Even at this time he supported the scout movement and his old school, S.Thomas’ Prep, Colpetty.

I asked him what motivated him to pursue scouting after leaving college and he said, ‘I enjoy teaching the junior scouts. The appreciation of the students and parents motivates me. Besides, I wanted to share the good lessons I learnt’. Janaprith says his career as a lawyer helps him immensely in dealing with legal and admin matters in scouting. This dynamic Sri Lankan will soon fly to Kenya to take oath of his new appointment at a grand ceremony in October. He will serve on this team from 2017- 2020.

Janaprith Fernando has a word for junior scouts: ”If you follow the primary concepts and doctrines of Baden Powell, the founding father of the Scout movement you can become a good citizen. You can work as part of a productive team, anywhere”. He has over the past few years empowered local scouts. He has personally developed a program to create environmental awareness on polythene and plastic.

Janaprith had recently mobilized scouts to visit homes in Colombo and other districts with dengue awareness literature. Scouting promotes service in the local community and teaches students to care for others. This former student scout has steadily reached the top most echelon of the world scout body and has brought honour to his school and country.