The pandemic can’t stop the good news…

The pandemic can’t stop the good news…

In the midst of a pandemic that’s stealing more lives than ever before, sanity needs prevailing…the kind of sanity that would help us overcome this and go back to the lives we had once taken for granted.

There’s nothing we need right now more than good news.

The kind of news that help us understand and celebrate being who we are – in the midst of the overfilled crematoriums, hapless patients struggling for oxygen and the healthcare workers overworked to the bone.

News that would be uplifting as over a million self employed people struggle to make ends meet – as many have no choice but to resort to eating one meal a day during the lockdown because they cannot go to work.

Last week, Yohani showed us that good news can come in many forms.

Her staggering over 40 million views mammoth achievement with one YouTube video not only captured the world but also captured all of us.

She has gone where no Sri Lankan singer/performer has gone before.

But not before teaching us many lessons that are comforting and inspiring – even in the midst of the darkness of the pandemic.

She showed us how it can be done – without fanfare, without criticism and without naysaying which seems to be a national pastime.

She just did what she did. Kept on singing and performing until that moment in time when her talent and her commitment just cut through the noise and made it to the Twitter page of a Bollywood legend – the rest is history.

This week, as Paralympic Games took off in Tokyo, Dinesh Priyantha Herath of the Sri Lanka Army who lost an arm in the war, took Gold in Men’s Javelin Throw, setting not only a new World Record but also showing his countrymen and women how you strike a win.

You don’t strike a win by punching the keys to criticise, spill hate or troll something or someone. Sure it helps to vent out but what beyond that?

It may give you a temporary high but minutes later, you are back at what you do best when you choose that road – living a miserable existence that goes nowhere. Everything can and will go wrong – would you still have the courage to stand up and say no, it cannot get me down?

Yohani and Dinesh have shown us that even in the midst of adversity, life needs – and can be celebrated.

It’s moments like what they have given us – by taking Sri Lanka to great heights globally – that can help us heal and come together as a nation.

If we don’t and we choose to wallow in our self-pity of broken systems that need fixing, we are taking the road that will never end but drive us even further into despair.

Maybe it’s the impact of the pandemic – of losing loved ones – the numbers have become names now – of the fear of the unknown, the fear of being infected and the sheer impact of losing livelihoods and income.

Maybe it’s not knowing where this pandemic will take us and not being able to truly comprehend what’s going on.

Maybe it brings out the worst in normally good people on social media or in person, losing it at vaccination centres and grumbling daily at what could be better.

Yes we have many broken systems that need fixing – everyday, all the time.

But we don’t have to be a part of it – we don’t need to allow ourselves to break down.

The human spirit is capable of rising above the situation, above the circumstances and achieving greater heights right in the middle of despair.

Others have shown us before – there have been many stories.

From Connie Ten Boom who survived Nazi atrocities to reach out to those hurting at the end of the World War Two to the mother of the Egyptian Christian Martyr who was beheaded by the ISIS.

They chose not to stay deep in hate and wallow in self-pity. They rose above what happened and went on to make the world a better place.

We can do that too.

Yohani and Dinesh have shown us it can be done.

It is never too late, never too far gone that you cannot reach out and touch someone’s life and make it better.

Maybe not much – a phone call, a hot meal or even a mild query.

A little kindness goes a long way – and helps us understand that no matter how bleak things might become, there’s still hope.

There always is.

” I cried for a pair of shoes until I met a man without feet.”

Annoymous

The doctor we desperately needed we lost to Covid-19…

The doctor we desperately needed we lost to Covid-19…

A young doctor who still had so much to give to Sri Lanka, succumbed to COVID-19 today.

Dr Gayan Danthanarayana goes into history not just as the first doctor claimed by the virus in Sri Lanka.

He goes down in history as a doctor who was much needed – we lost him at a time when we needed him most.

We needed him because he didn’t think twice about serving the poor in the often tough rural areas with low facilities.

Where hospitals are ill equipped to deal with the stress and strain of taking care of the sick – yet those of the calibre of Dr Gayan always had just enough inspiration to go on serving.

In a community that often sees the bad before it sees the good, young doctors like Gayan give all of us hope – that the medical professional is as noble as we could imagine it to be.

That for every doctor who disappoints us, there are hundreds of silent yet dedicated medical professionals who make their calling still the most respected in the world.

Today, as the nation mourns the untimely death of a young doctor, social media is awash with heartfelt tributes to a young man whose life’s calling seemed to have been a passion beyond a mere job.

One post recalled Dr Gayan’s stint at the Ampara Hospital.

Often, an ambulance – not really an ambulance but a makeshift van with a bed, traveling across roads with more pot holes than the van could negotiate, would carry a sick child from a hospital without facilities in a rural area to the bigger hospital at Ampara.

Every time the van hits a pot hole, the tube on the breathing apparatus would come off and the attending staff would have to stop, light a torch and put the tube back in to ensure that the child would be able to breathe and make it to the hospital safe.

The nightmare trip taken through some of the most difficult terrain of the deep rural Sri Lanka, would end at the Ampara hospital where Dr Gayan waited with more than just medical help at hand.

He would reach out to the doctors and the staff who took the challenging task of bringing a very sick child through a perilous journey – once the child was taken care of, he never forgot to treat the accompanying doctor and nurses to a cup of tea.

The writer, a doctor himself, also noted that most of the children who were thus resuscitated and made well, would come back to see them with grateful hearts. They owed their very life to the commitment displayed by doctors the calibre of Dr Gayan.

Dr Gayan served in hospitals considered difficult, often attending to the needs of the rural poor, helpless villagers whose only refuge is in a hospital a million miles away from what we in the city perceive hospitals to be.

It breaks my heart and the hearts of every Sri Lankan to comprehend that a doctor of his calibre had to leave so soon.

It breaks my heart that a doctor who ministered selflessly to the poor had to be rushed from Ragama, close to Colombo and then to IDH before finally being sent to Karapitiya Hospital in Galle which is said to have the sole life support system for critically ill patients.

Maybe there is enough reason for us to come together to do something about it. That would be the best we could give in Dr Gayan’s memory.

Dr Gayan was also an accomplished musician who played his guitar – a smiling young man whose cheerful demeanor seemed to convey his zest for life, his dedication to his profession and to his music.

Let Dr. Gayan’s untimely death not be in vain.

Let it light a path of hope towards more ECMO units being installed in the island.

Let it open our eyes that if we come together as we did for the Cancer Hospital Project, we as a nation can raise the funds needed to put up another ECMO unit in a hospital easily accessible.