A group of Australians and Sri Lankans residing down under have created a monumental impression on the people of Jaffna as they took part in a marathon ride called the Bendigo Bank Australia Charity Bike Ride to raise funds for the humanitarian organization, the Foundation of Goodness, headed by former First Class cricketer and Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Kushil Gunasekera.
The event commenced on October 24, 2016 from Jaffna and ended in Seenigama in Hikkaduwa in the south on October 29 covering a distance of some 500 kilometres.
It paved the way for as many as 100 bicycles to be donated to boys and girls in Jaffna so they could travel without inconvenience to their respective schools.
The cycling team consisted of 14 riders from Australia with the oldest being 70 years of age.
Several riders were customers and staff of Bendigo Bank.
A major fundraising event called “Showcasing Sri Lankan Culture” was also held on July 1 at the Box Hill Town Hall sponsored by Bendigo Bank, Emirates and Travel Glen with over 300 guests in attendance.
The fundraising goal was to raise 30,000 Australian dollars and the team was able to procure seven thousand dollars more that enabled the Foundation of Goodness to provide the 100 bicycles to school kids in the once war ravaged Jaffna peninsula.
The bicycles were personally handed over by the 14 riders and the remainder of the funds according to the organisers will be used towards the primary and secondary education costs of children in rural communities.
“The fund-raising ride as expected was very physically stressful, but what caught me off-guard was the mental aspect of the challenge,” said one rider. “I realised that life too will throw me challenges and that everything happens for a reason. We go through different phases in our life which ultimately make us stronger”.
Another rider who had joined the group added: “I thank God every day for bringing me into this world, for giving me personality, blessing me with knowledge, health and wealth and for bringing beautiful people into my world. I have been blessed with an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. The recipients of the families of the bicycles are close to my heart and I dedicate the ride”.
The Foundation of Goodness (FOG) was established in 1999 and has worked extensively (following the 2004 tsunami that devastated the lives of thousands of Sri Lankans) to develop a holistic rural community development model which today delivers a wide range of programmes to over 35,000 beneficiaries from over 200 villagers in the south, north and east of Sri Lanka annually, free of charge.
The FOG has 30 activity sectors which include Arts and Multimedia, Children, Enterprise and Empowerment, Environment, Housing, Dental, Medical and Psycho-social support, Scholarships, Sports Development and Management, Sustainable Income Generation, Village Heartbeat Project, Village Welfare and Development and Volunteer Management.
The Foundation has also worked extensively with villages in the post-war North and East of Sri Lanka since January 2011, reaching out to over 28,000 beneficiaries to-date covering infrastructure development, sports development, library and schools development, water and sanitation projects, livelihood and vocational programmes.