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Compassion is one thing people need more than anything else in this world. Unconditional Compassion is a strong motivation that responds to the needs of people. It is much deeper than sympathy. Can a human being go to the extent of sacrificing his family home, business and other material comforts in order to meet the needs of other human beings?

Here is a human being who reaches out and touches a love-starved- world with his Unconditional Compassion. KUSHIL GUNASEKERA, Founder/Chief Trustee of Foundation of Goodness.

I was blessed to meet this wonderful man who is more than a friend, a brother and a father to many in Sri Lanka and I consider myself very lucky to have met him and got this chance to write about him and his work which will doubtless inspire our readers.

The moment you walk into his office, the surroundings would tell you that he prefers neatness and order. I did feel his quality of life when I looked around the walls which were full of sayings about love and compassion.

I start my brief interview with a famous quotation,“What we have done for ourselves dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”  Albert Pike  

Me : Wishing you a very good day, and let me ask you Mr.Gunasekera; briefly tell me  who KUSHIL GUNASEKERA is and what drives him?

Kushil :  Well… I am no body, just a human being striving for excellence with pure intentions. You asked what drives me; basically I am inspired to help when I see the needs and burdens of others. That is what drives me. I always put myself in their shoes and think what I would do if I were to face such a situation. My heart aches for others and that helps me become generous and compassionate even in day to day life.

Me:  Yes I know because I myself personally experienced that, which no one can deny. Mr. Gunasekera , giving is a noble act and it is fundamental to every religion in the world, so to make that a reality you have given your life to such a great cause. Tell me, what inspired you at the beginning?

Kushil: I was born in the village “ Seenigama” located in the Southern District of Sri Lanka. Though I was born there I was educated In Colombo at Ananda College; one of the most popular schools in Sri Lanka. I experienced the facilities and all the opportunities that were there, but I always loved my village and saw the less privileged children who were much smarter, cleverer and talented than I. I realized the main handicap they had was English Language & IT Skills and that kept them from moving forward. So with the pure intention of developing these areas, I started my charitable work taking one step at a time, without which nothing ever great happens.

Me: What gave birth to the Foundation of Goodness?

Kushil:  Our ancestral property which I inherited from my parents was converted into a modern holiday home as it was an attraction to the affluent to visit Seenigama, through which I was able to harness their kindness for gifting of aid. My main goal was to help the people in my village and its region who are facing immense difficulties to realize their goals.

Me: I am sure you achieved your goal but everything changed on the 26thPlease tell me about your experience.

Kushil: Yes, we lost everything there but I can tell you, “Adversity brings out the best in you”. It took only a few minutes for the beautiful villa which had all the modern facilities to go with the tidal wave, but it brought out something much more precious I guess. Nothing is permanent anyway. December 2004?

Me: Overriding the unkind tidal wave, a wave of hope and love emerged when you decided to transform your villa to a Center to Excellence for the children, youth and women in the villages to make better progress.

Kushil: Yes, we cannot reverse such a tragic situation, and like in most success stories you have to be turned down before you can rise up again. Today it is the MCC Centre of Excellence which has created a multifaceted learning and empowerment institute for rural disadvantaged communities in the Seenigama Region. I am grateful to Marylebone Cricket Club for their generosity and kindness in granting this facility, now a one of a kind holistic model.

Me: Any special individuals who contributed to this great mission?

Kushil: First and foremost, my parents, who inculcated good qualities in me in realizing my dream. Though no more in this world, they are immortal in my heart. Whenever I came home on holidays my mother did not forget to take me to the temple and the noble character of the Buddha being the supreme human being that he was influenced my life to follow in that path exercising generosity, compassion, kindness, forgiveness to name a few.

Me: What are some of the challenges you have encountered both at a personal level and as FOG in your pursuit to give back to the community?

Kushil: I do not remember all the challenges because I attempt to live in the present moment though challenges have brought the best in me. The major challenge is to keep finding resources to sustain the Foundation of Goodness. Since the tsunami in 2004, we have grown into a model that is not seen elsewhere and obviously it is easy to start something, but sustaining it, is the real challenge. So I move on believing ‘Good begets good’. I think it is very important to look at how we can improve our own selves rather than look to the faults of others. Whatever said and done ultimately it’s about our good and or bad, but never between me and anyone else for that matter, at life’s end. I accept any criticism in good spirit if one is to continuously improve. If someone is obstructing us, he or she gives me another chance to forgive them and learn tolerance, patience and greater kindness. I do love people, my village and my country. I walk my talk while adhering to my values. I did not study much for which my mother was not happy with me but I built up my character on value based education, with a good attitude, kindness, discipline with an attention to detail outlook.

Me: If I may ask you about the team that is with you on this journey?

Kushil: Obviously since gratitude is the best attitude,  my parents come first, my siblings,  the legendary cricketers in Sri Lanka; Muthiah Muralidaran, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Russel Arnold and my dear friends Rohan Iriyagolla, Ashan Malalasekera and Sidath Wettimuny and Family should be remembered with grateful appreciation. Not forgetting the many many others too numerous to mention individually, including my colleagues at work travelling on the same track for a special cause.

Me: Where do you see FOG in 5 years from now on?

Kushil: As I told you it is very easy to start, but sustaining it, is the real challenge which I am working hard at to build a business enterprise model within the Foundation of Goodness to generate sustainable income avenues. It is a shame if we cannot continue what we started but then again, nothing lasts forever. My understanding is, the more you give the more will be yours to give. FOG has already gone across from the South to the North, East and all over. The 30 years of conflict paralyzed the whole system, but in the years to come, I see that the children, who became extremely helpless in these areas, can enjoy all these benefits without any hindrance which is the sincere wish.

Me: Finally may I ask you, what is the message you would like to give the world through your work and life experiences?

Kushil: If one can forgive another without holding back anything and have unconditional compassion, your success is not very far from you. I learnt that it is not success that creates happiness, but happiness that creates success. I shall leave you with his thoughts, those which describe a very simple yet wonderful human being who has a giant heart to love because you don’t find many of this calibre.

“The true measure of a person to me is how he or she treats someone who cannot return that favor. However, only a rare few can still give when not in a position to do so” This is Kushil Gunsekera and there is no doubt that his words and thoughts inspire us to stop for a moment to think where we are when it comes to our attitude towards our fellow human beings.

For a better understanding of his work please feel free to visit: www.unconditionalompassion.org

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