It is another 7am early start to mark the final day and the group is excited to be visiting the foundation’s main center in Seenigama whose initiatives we are supporting and who has been supporting our PMTT tour the whole journey. I was really unsure what to expect now having visited many places along the way but those who have visited the center keep describing how amazing it is.
As we all set off and re-fuel, (found a petrol station that accepts card!!) we notice there are a lot more police on the main road than what we have seen so far
and out of curiosity they stop a few of the Tuk drivers to ask a few questions. It has become a familiar line of questions. After trying their luck with a few ‘Spot Fines’ for alleged infringements, they have no luck and let us all go on our way again – we are getting experienced at this now.
We arrive at the FOG main center where there is a small dance group waiting to greet us – it seems very appropriate being the last of our stops and the groups emotions begin to heighten with a few man hugs taking place. As we enter the center you are struck with how big it is. The founder Mr. Kushil Gunasekera provides us with a tour of the center and explains how the center all started and all the different initiatives they support. This foundation was once his family home however after the tsunami struck Sri Lanka back in 2004 everything changed for him. He began to support disadvantaged people and empower the less fortunate in rural communities and he has not looked back since. He points out in a few areas on the walls where the water level from the wave settled at more than 9ft. Thousands of Sri Lankans lost their lives and families on that day not to mention the impact across the world.
The center has adult education classes for sewing, electrical, cosmetics, diving instructors, computers and English classes. It has its own doctors clinic and a dentistry provided free of charge to the community. There is also a preschool attended by many young kids who also perform a song for us – The wheels on the bus. It was funny to watch 50 grown men join in and sing the song in harmony, but an unforgettable memory. The center is amazing and you can see how much passion the entire team has to make the center such a success.
A short walk down the road from the center, we are taken to the sports academy they have developed which has a full cricket ground, 25m swimming pool, and gym all donated by global personalities. They use the facilities to train young children from rural communities through scholarships – this is truly the icing on the cake. We manage to get a quick game of cricket together for a bit of fun and then lunch. I was hoping they would service lunch for obvious reasons. I really can’t wait to come back and show the family around.
We head off for the last time towards Colombo. We only travel approx 10km’s when the Tuk decides to just stop…no acceleration, and the ignition is not turning over. We filled up on fuel not too long back so we know we have not run out but check anyway – still ¾ of a tank. A couple of locals from a shop across the road come over for what we thought was some help but instead he asked me where I got my shirt from? I explained (Foundation of Goodness Sri Lanka) and then he asked me if he can have it! I laugh and say no and cannot help but think that at least he tried his luck.
We wait a few minutes and try to start the Tuk again, sure enough it starts so we head off again. We travel for another hour towards Colombo where the traffic is now getting really heavy. Suddenly the Tuk stops again. We have to push it onto the side of the road dogging cars, motorbikes, and other 3 wheelers. We decide to wait again for 5 minutes before calling in help and sure enough it starts again. I think the Tuk is as desperate as us to now make it back so after catching its breath we head off again.
This time, we make it back into Colombo (just) and arrive at the hotel tired, emotional, and completely satisfied with what we have accomplished. It’s been an amazing week’s journey that has suddenly come to an end. I’m so happy to see Michelle, Alannah and Eve at the finish line with smiles.
I would like to thank the FOG, PMTT teams and all of you who helped by contributing your support throughout the journey. Most of all I would like to thank my darling wife and family for being so supportive and understanding (again) in the lead up and throughout the tour.
Until the next adventure sometime in the future, I wish you all good health and happiness.
PS. Stay tuned as my cashless month is not over yet.