Impossible is nothing | Sunday Observer

Impossible is nothing

Dulanjali Ariyaratne has obtained two A s and a B at the last Advanced Level examination offering History, Christianity and Media. Though many students get similar results what makes Dulanjali’s achievement absolutely unique and praiseworthy is that she answered the question papers holding the pen between her toes as she was born minus hands.

Dulanjali’s ambition was to get three A’s at the A/L’ s but it was not to be. However, Dulanjali has taken her disappointment in her stride. “I got a B for my last paper because my toes and legs were paining very badly and the pen also slipped slicing a piece of my foot and so I left out the last question” she said. “ This was due to two papers being held on the same day and having to write for six hours using my toes and feet was really tough”. What is also very remarkable is that Dulanjali never attended a single tuition class for her A/Levels.

Her home is the ‘Marc Sri’ home at 26, St. Sebastian’s Road at Katukurunda , Kalutara and it is the only home she has ever known. She is the beloved Akka of the other children living there and is their role model and they look to her for guidance and support.

Yet, Dulanjali has not let her handicap mar her life. Grit and determination is at the core of her very being and she is an ideal role model for all youth able or disabled. With a bright smile and sparkling eyes she whizzes around the Home attending to things.

Dulanjali came into the limelight when she starred in Somaratane Dissanayake’s film Samanala Thatu ( Butterfly Wings) at the age of nine about 13 years ago. Her acting was the talk of the town then and even now people still remember Dulanjali in the movie.

Samanala Thatu not only brought Dulanjali fame, it opened the doors to education for her. Until then she had not gone to school and neither had the other children at ‘Marc Sri’ for they lacked confidence to face the outside world and feared it. Acting in the film and mingling with the outside world brought self confidence to Dulanjali and with her usual zest for life she grabbed the opportunity with both hands and as can be seen by her results she has made full use of the opportunity.

She attended the Roman Catholic School in Katukurunda along with Chameera, another boy at the home. According to these children, for the first two or three days the staff and students looked at them in amazement but they had their caregiver, whom they affectionately call Nanda to help them thrtough these first days. Then, the staff and students had readily taken over their care.

“As I was born without hands all my life I have done everything with my feet including playing musical instruments and all the necessary writing for my studies. She is an accomplished organ player. Her O/L results were six A’s, one B and four Cs.

Today, Dulanjali has just turned twenty three and is trying to decide on what to read for her degree and which University to go to. She occupies her time with helping in the office work at the Marc Sri and following a course in Human Resources at the Open University in the English medium.

Another striking feature about Dulanjali was her fluency in English. This she attributes to the Founder of the ‘Marc Sri’ home Ms. Rita Perera, a teacher by profession. The children call this beloved maternal figure ‘Amma’ and greatly miss her loving presence. The good lady passed away three and a half years ago.

Dulanjali is a voracious reader and loves getting books as gifts. She also watches TV and movies and listens to music for relaxation. She enjoys the trips they get taken on and is thrilled with the trip she and the others made to Velankanni In India. As a devout Catholic she treasures the moment when the Pope touched her head and blessed her during his visit to Sri Lanka.

She has over 6oo FB pals and three very good school friends. Her FB pals visit her when they come to Sri Lanka.

Chammera, another youth at Marc Sri has come a long way from his childhood ambition of becoming a lottery seller. He is the other student from Marc Sri who has qualified to enter university. He is now 22 -years-old and was brought to Marc Sri at 17 days. He offered Christianity, Sinhala and Media and obtained one B and two Cs. He attended tuition classes for media but managed the other two subjects on his own. He too has not yet decided what to offer for his degree but thinks he would like to do a degree in IT. His Father Chrisopher Prassanna who is in charge of the Home is working with the authorities to try to iron out logistical problems regarding these two differently able youngsters entry to university.

Chameera is a talented vioinist who enjoys playing pop music. He also likes Sinhala classical music. He too follows a course in Human Resources at the Open University in the Sinhala medium but is fluent in English too. A kind hearted youth he helps care for the differently able males at the home.

Both youngsters expressed gratitiude to all who have helped them to overcome the obstacles in life and make them what they are today.

The children at Marc Sri are united as a family with the older ones acting as mentors to the young ones. It was touching to see little Thirandhi wheeling herself upto Dulanjali for help with her English homework. Mario was busy unravelling the mysteries of Maths with his private tutor. Three children are boarded out at Gonapinuwela and Kandy but come home to Marc Sri for the holidays.

Marc Sri was founded by Ms. Rita Perera at her home after the death of her husband. And the name is derived from their two names. A teacher by profession she always spared time and resources for the needy. A chance encounter with a homeless man just discharged from hospital led to the establishment of the first Marc Sri home in 1983. Today, there are several Marc Sri homes diverse categories for needy people. Anyone wishing to help can contact Father Christopher Prassanna.

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