Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people and hence it can be considered as the strongest bond among persons. It is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association and has been studied in academic fields such as communication, sociology, social psychology, anthropology and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics and attachment styles.
Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of such bonds. Such characteristics include choosing to be with one another, enjoying time spent together, and being able to engage in a positive and supportive role to one another and moreover to help each other.
Director General of the Sri Lanka Agonshu Friendship Foundation (SLAFF) Somasiri Addara Pathiranage had cordial talks with the Most Ven. Seiyu Kiriyama Thera of Japan in 1986 to form a mechanism to help Sri Lankan people.
As an outcome of the talks and with the blessings of Most Ven. Seiyu Kiriyama Thera, about three decades ago, the Sri Lanka Agonshu Friendship Foundation was set up to help Sri Lankans, especially children from poor families, who could not afford the cost of education due to economic hardships with the coordination of Agonshu Chapter in Japan.
Ven. Seiyu Kiriyama Thera
The Agonshu Chapter in Japan, which was founded by the Most Ven. Seiyu Kiriyama Thera, has been providing financial support and advice to implement these social services and welfare activities in Sri Lanka.
The SLAFF has been helping remote Buddhist temples and carrying out other social services such as conducting vocational trainings for youth and providing infrastructure facilities for remote areas. Around 2,353 students have obtained vocational training free by now and of them almost all are employed locally and in abroad.
Although the Most Ven. Seiyu Kiriyama Thera passed away on August 29, 2016, the Agonshu Chapter decided to support this cause continuously since it brings much benefit especially for underprivileged persons.
These welfare activities are currently being carried out under the guidance and the leadership of Chairperson of the Agonshu Friendship Foundation of Japan, Madam Wada Naoko. The supporting moves have been carried out jointly by the Agonshu Friendship Foundation of Japan and the SLAFF for more than three decades.
SLAFF Director General Pathiranage said, “Besides the other assistance rendered to people in Sri Lanka, the Foundation has provided education scholarships to Sri Lankan children from poor families throughout the country for over three decades. Most of the scholars, who received Agonshu scholarships, have reached the top of the education ladder holding white collar jobs in the State and private sectors.”
The Agonshu Scholarship Award program has been carried out for the 30th year by now. Arrangements have been made to hold the 31st Annual Agonshu Scholarship Awards Ceremony of the SLAFF this year, he said.
Scholarships in two phases
The 31st Agonshu Scholarship Award program will be held in two phases at Walawa Sri Swethabimbaramaya Temple in Galle on November 11 and at Girithalegama National College, Polonnaruwa on November 14. About 112 students will receive scholarships this year.
About 735 students will receive Agonshu education scholarships this year and with these scholars, 18,801 students will have received scholarships by this year from its inception.
The specialty of this scholarship program is only the students who failed at the Grade 5 scholarship examination are entitled to this scholarship awarding program, because the students who failed at Grade 5 scholarship examination don’t have much opportunities such as educations aids or scholarships for their studies. Students who are just below the cutoff mark of the Grade 5 scholarship examination are basically entitled for the Agonshu scholarship program.
“Our objective is to select students, who failed at the Grade 5 scholarship examination, with economic hardships and help them in their education through this Agonshu scholarship program. The students are nominated by 20 coordinating officers appointed across the country. A competitive test will be conducted for the nominated students by the SLAFF to select suitable students to receive scholarships,” Pathiranage said.
He said that the SLAFF officials go to the houses of the selected children and find out whether there is an educational environment. The officers will have interviews with the scholarship recipient and the father and mother of the recipient to create an educational environment for the scholars. Eligible students will receive scholarships until the completion of their Advanced Level education.