Awe-struck cricketers plead for the children | Sunday Observer

Awe-struck cricketers plead for the children

Rangana Herath talks to a child -Aggressive fast bowler Lahiru Kumara shows his gentle side as he takes a selfie with a young boy
Rangana Herath talks to a child -Aggressive fast bowler Lahiru Kumara shows his gentle side as he takes a selfie with a young boy

Cameras clicked while medical staff and security guards turned their heads the moment a coach that was labeled ‘Sri Lanka Cricket Team’ passed through the large metal gates at the country’s foremost cancer hospital in Maharagama.

From inside poured out the cricketers, almost the entire Sri Lanka squad taking on South Africa in an on-going home series who had taken time off a regular practice session to spend a precious hour with the hospital’s more than 150 cancer patients most of them young children stricken with the disease.

The players chatted with the children, posed for photographs and inquired from nursing staff how they could further help in the rehabilitation cause at a hospital whose name alone can drive down shivers and where an estimated 20 per cent of the victims don’t make it.

“Word’s can’t describe being in such a tough situation like this”, said Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal. “It is not easy when you have to feel for these children. I hope all of them will get well soon”.

Chandimal and the rest of his team presented cancer-fighting drugs worth over a million rupees to the hospital’s director on behalf of Sri Lanka Cricket while toys and gifts were also handed out to the youngest of the patients.

For 13-year old SD Isuru, a former junior cricketer from an under-privileged school in the Badulla district whose career was cut short by the disease, it was a dream come true to meet his idols. He could not get enough posing for photographs with the cricketers who discovered he was one of their biggest fans.

Doctors say Isuru has an extremely good chance of making a recovery after treatment to his left leg but whether he will be able to play again and reach his sporting goals only time will say.

The cricketers not only interacted with the children but were also given a thorough briefing by head nurse Menaka at the hospital on the challenges faced in helping the patients fight the scourge and get back to normal life.

“Here in Sri Lanka it is different from what you may have seen in other countries. What we need here is a hundred percent awareness of the whole country and the maximum commitment of the parents just like we care for these children”, Meneka told the players.

A nurse for 18 years at the facility, Meneka plays a lead role in education and recreation for the children but rued the fact that some parents don’t show more interest not knowing that with the right care and attention more children can be saved.

Veteran spin bowler Rangana Herath was one of the players deeply moved by what he saw and experienced for the first time. “When you talk of children you talk about the future of the country. We are ever willing to reach out and help these children but more has to be done. The whole country should come together in this cause”, pleaded Herath.

It was the first time that Sri Lanka Cricket’s Cricket Aid humanitarian project had patronized the cancer hospital with almost the entire team banding together although occasionally a player drops by.