Two founding members of the Federation of Sri Lankan Organisations of Queensland and a generous benefactor with a close connection to our island nation were honoured at Sri Lanka Day 2023 for their dedicated work in bettering the lives of others.
The FSOQ’s first president, Bill Deutrom, Jayantha Pathikirikorale, and philanthropist and dedicated friend of Sri Lanka Scott Walker have been in the forefront of community work, both here and in Sri Lanka.
With Bill Deutrom at the helm when the FSOQ formed in 2013, the coming together of a supportive Brisbane community has been one of the federation’s most valuable assets.
Thanks to the foresight of Bill, Jayantha and a dedicated team, the FSOQ has been in the forefront of major welfare projects in Sri Lanka and Brisbane.
Bill is proud of the FSOQ’s achievement in bringing together the community groups under one umbrella. He said unifying meant the FSOQ was able to actively support Sri Lanka and elsewhere in a time of need – helping with rehabilitation during the 2004 tsunami and floods, and sending cricket gear to under-privileged schools, Foundation of Goodness, and Seenigama, along with a number of other projects.
A good example of the cooperation that existed was when the Queensland Government gave a $2 million aid package to help rehabilitate villages in tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka, and the FSOQ reciprocated by raising $20,000 to help Brisbane in its recovery process after the 2011 floods.
Jayantha Pathikirikorale has been a livewire in our community, leading from the front in every respect. In addition to being past president of the FSOQ, Jayantha also was president of the Sri Lanka Sports Association of Queensland, and the Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen’s Association. He is now the patron of the latter association.
Jayantha, who highly values transparency and accountability, has been the motivator of a number of welfare projects and his organisational skills are unsurpassed. He initiated the Sri Lanka Day festival to raise awareness among the local community; coordinated many fundraising dances in the past 15 years; worked closely with Foundation of Goodness founder Kushil Gunasekera; championed the ongoing Hospital Beds for Sri Lanka campaign; and launched the crucial Appeal for Easter Sunday bombing victims, and Food Fairs.
Jayantha and Bill are actively involved in The Batticaloa Teaching Hospital Emergency & Accident Project (BEAP), the foundation supporting a national trauma service in Sri Lanka.
Scott Walker holds the welfare of Sri Lanka close to his heart. He first visited Sri Lanka in 2010, and since then has been a regular visitor and is involved in many projects. These include renovation of an orphanage in Jaffna for 25 girls and 15 boys; construction of an orphanage in Killinochchi; sponsorship of an orphanage in Badulla and funding maintenance of CCChouse, a transit home for cancer patients in Maharagama.
In the last few years, Scott and Bill combined in one of the most significant life-saving projects to date – installation of water-purification plants to provide clean water to more than 100 villages in central and rural Sri Lanka – alleviating the incidences of chronic kidney disease.
The honour bestowed on the trio today is richly deserved.