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Some lost their memories. Others lost sight, hearing or limbs. Yet many others must have lost their sanity. They were all ‘disabled’ in one way or another. Such was the havoc wreaked by the three-decade old war. In fact ‘disability’ was rampant back in the day and nothing out of the ordinary.

After the triumph over terrorism in 2009, Abhimansala became the resting place for war heroes. This is the only place they could receive necessary medical treatment from with special emphasis on promoting mental wellbeing.

‘Perseverance’, a ballet performed by its resident war heroes, took place on March 18 at Nelum Pokuna Theatre. Woven around real war time incidents, mixed with music that tugged at our heartstrings, together with impressive lighting effects, related a remarkable story. Forgetting all the difficulties that they had to undergo while sitting on wheel-chairs, not forgetting their prosthetic limbs, they proved that they are adept at not only warfare, but also performing art.

‘Perseverance’ depicts how the war gripped Sri Lanka with fear. It shows how the country was later saved thanks to the sacrifices made by many war heroes. After the war, Abhimansala Wellness Resort became their collective refuge. Here care and attention is provided, something that individuals in houses might be unable to provide. Facilities to engage in occupational therapy were provided to them along with the opportunity to dabble in sport and enjoy entertainment.

Despite all care, the sense of dejection these soldiers felt could not possibly be averted. But, Abhimansala had driven them to think beyond the unthinkable and forget physical limitations. Almost 150 such war heroes came together to perform the story of how a soldier, who lost a leg in the war, mastered basketball and made his mark in the world. The professional ballet dancers from the renowned ‘Team Gajithra’ had worked with the Abhimansala team for almost three months to make the endeavour a success.

Army Commander Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva who witnessed this different unusual talent said that they worked hard to achieve this success. He revealed that their message to other differently abled soldiers was that the doors are open for those who are dedicated and courageous despite physical limitations.
Army Directorate of Rehabilitation Brigadier Thirunavukarasu, who was the brainchild of the concept, said that they proved that the Sri Lanka Army, which defeated a ruthless terror outfit, also knows how to maintain the moral of its injured. Renowned ballet instructor Asanka Thilakaratne worked with the Army personnel for over 90 days training them. He was also the choreographer of the show while the music was provided by Nadeeka Guruge.
The tagline of their ballet reads, ‘Light can only be understood with the wisdom of darkness.’ The ballet itself was named ‘Perseverance’ which means ‘not giving up’. This theme keeps with the dedication and firmness of the forces to achieve a target at battle. Today, they are doing it on stage.

Pic courtesy: Army Media

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