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LIFE STYLE NEWS

Historic achievements at the Asia Enduro Series held in Sri Lanka

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 16-05-2024 |
By Claude Gunasekera

Picture : Oman Ambassador in Sri Lanka Ahmed Ali Said Alrashidi met and wished the Omani Bikers in Colombo.

Mountain Bikers have made historic achievements at the Asia Enduro Series held in Sri Lanka during May 11 & 12. The event has not only brought pride to Sri Lanka but also set a new benchmark for future competitors with their eyes set on the remaining rounds to be held in Taiwan, China, South Korea, India, and Nepal in the coming months. The event featured riders from nine countries, including Japan, China, Oman, Nepal, UAE, Indonesia, Singapore, Canada and host country Sri Lanka.

Al Waal Mountain Bike Team of The Sultanate of Oman participated with 11 riders led by the team president Hamed Al-Wadahi. It is the first time that the team arrived in Sri Lanka and they were sponsored by ‘Adventures Box’, a touristic HUB for adventure sports and a professional cycling store in Oman said Bassam Al-Dhamri, founder of adventure box who is also a member in the cycling team.

He said the team arrived on May 08 and is scheduled to leave on May 16. The team have stayed in a city hotel in Colombo and neer by the race trail. Captain Mansoor said the whole team was impressed with the great hospitality and kindness of people in Sri Lanka while they have enjoyed the beauty of the amazing country, good weather, exciting culture and delicious food.
All Omanis expressed their desire to visit Sri Lanka again soon on a personal visit to explore and experience more areas visiting around Sri Lanka said Bassam Al-Dhamri.

He further told that Al Waal Mountain Bike Team (AWMBT) was formed in 2016, with a team of over 50 members and over the last 7 years. “The team has made great effort to participate in building multiple trails in Oman in collaboration with Oman Trail Builders and other sports teams and individuals. The team is continuously working to develop and train the members to ensure enthusiastic participation in all events in Oman and some international competitions” Bassam concluded.

SHYAM G LIMBU, Founder of Asia Enduro in a message noted that “ a massive thank you to each and every one of you for making this year’s Asia Enduro Series an incredible success! After what felt like a long hiatus, diving back into this exhilarating event was nothing short of amazing. We’re already gearing up for an even more spectacular and grander event next year. With a lineup of new locations, trails, and experiences, get ready for an adventure like never before! A heartfelt thank you goes out to all the organizers of the series.

Your dedication and hard work made the magic happen. But let’s not forget, an event isn’t complete without the incredible participants, volunteers, well-wishers, and sponsors. Your enthusiasm, support, and energy are what truly bring this series to life. A huge shoutout to all the riders across Asia who made this year’s series an unforgettable journey. As we wrap up this year’s adventures, keep the wheels spinning, stay safe on those trails, and keep the passion alive. We can’t wait to see you all again for another incredible chapter of the Asia Enduro Series. Thank you, everyone! Ride on…” the message ended.

Where There's a Will, There is ASPIRE

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 09-05-2024 |

The saying "Where there is a will, there is a way" speaks volumes about the power of determination. In Dinusha Madhushani's case, a 33-year-old mother and marginalized resource-collector, her journey epitomizes this struggle. Despite numerous hurdles and enduring a challenging life at home, Dinusha remained steadfast in her pursuit of a better life for herself and her family, especially her 14-year-old daughter, Shaini. With unwavering determination, she asserted, "Children are worth more than anything else," underscoring her commitment. It was this steadfast resolve that distinguished her from others facing similar adversities.
For individuals like Dinusha, the ASPIRE program offered by World Vision Lanka and funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation served as a lifeline, providing the opportunity to rewrite their realities and pursue a path toward positive change.
Finding her way with ASPIRE

ASPIRE, a collaboration between World Vision Lanka and The Coca-Cola Foundation, aims to address Sri Lanka's waste mismanagement issues by empowering individuals to actively contribute to the recycling ecosystem. When the designated operator of the Nagoda Resource Bank, which integrates a comprehensive waste management and resource recovery process, withdrew, Reverend Fr. Linton Fernando, the Parish Priest of Nagoda, introduced Dinusha to the ASPIRE initiative. Through this initiative, Dinusha’s life took a significant turn when she took over the management of the Resource Bank, located near approximately 3,000 households. Amidst difficulties, ASPIRE had offered hope.
Reflecting on her journey, she shared, "I began my chapter as a material collector five years ago. With my husband's experience in material collection, I wanted to support our family income by joining him in this venture. He taught me the ins and outs of the business.” Dinusha has now become an integral part of ASPIRE, independently managing the Nagoda Resource Bank, paving a path towards stability amidst adversity.
Re-writing realities
Managing the Nagoda Resource Bank poses a challenge for Dinusha as she grapples with waste mixing caused by residents' haphazard rubbish disposal nearby. Despite her proactive measures, such as raising awareness through various community platforms and involving the Parish Priest, altering community behaviors remains an uphill battle.
Recalling the bank's inception, Dinusha vividly remembers traversing neighborhoods to register members and collect recyclables. In the initial months, she enrolled 32 new members and gathered 81 kg of PET bottles, earning 10,333 rupees through the resource bank. However, amidst professional challenges, Dinusha also faces a deeply personal struggle as her daughter, Shaini, initially finds it difficult to understand their involvement in waste collection. Over time, Shaini's perspective shifts, recognizing the sacrifices her parents make for her future. This transformation strengthens their bond as Shaini begins actively assisting her mother, demonstrating their resilience and unity in the face of adversity.
Despite numerous challenges, this determined mother is tirelessly reshaping her reality. Her successful takeover of the resource bank empowered her to expand material collection activities across Nagoda, Welisara, and Kandana. Despite hurdles like relying on a single collecting cart owned by her husband, Dinusha remains steadfast in improving her family's financial situation. With the support of the ASPIRE project, her family's income surged to 55,000 rupees, marking significant progress in breaking the cycle of poverty. Participating in an ASPIRE program in Wattala further proved pivotal, enlightening her on the importance of financial planning. Prior to this, Dinusha admitted to a lack of foresight regarding saving, despite owning a bank passbook. However, the program instilled in her a newfound determination to secure her family's future, prompting her to embrace growth opportunities presented by the ASPIRE team.
Now, Dinusha focuses on solidifying her financial footing, recently equipped with a safety gear package and a vehicle, to enhance collection efforts. With unwavering dedication, she embodies a new success story in the making, supported wholeheartedly by the ASPIRE team.
A call to action remains
ASPIRE's transformative impact is vividly illustrated through Dinusha's journey, urging others to take action. Funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, ASPIRE uplifts and empowers over 60 resource collectors like her, providing tools for sustainable practices. This partnership stands as a testament to creating long-term solutions for PET plastic collectors, offering training, education, and equipment.
Dinusha's journey serves as a compelling testament to the transformative power of initiatives like ASPIRE, but it's just one story among many waiting to be rewritten. While organizations like World Vision Lanka take the lead, there's a pressing need for greater support from both the public and private sectors. By joining forces, opportunities for individuals like Dinusha to break free from the cycle of poverty can be created, and charting a course towards a brighter, more sustainable future.
Together, the public and private sectors must collaborate to turn the tide and rewrite countless stories of resilience, determination, and hope.

779 prisoners pardoned for Sinhala & Tamil New Year

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 14-04-2024 |
779 inmates who are serving sentences in prisons in Sri Lanka have been pardoned on (13), in view of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

768 male prisoners and 11 female prisoners who are eligible for special state amnesty were released.

The Prisons Department stated that the eligible prisoners from prisons around the country were released today as part of this special amnesty program.

Meanwhile, on the occasion of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, the Prisons Department has also allowed relatives to visit the inmates of prisoners today (14). It was noted that the relatives have brought food, sweets and sanitary items to prisoners today, under the existing rules and proper hygienic protocols.

Nuwara Eliya holiday season begins

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 03-04-2024 |

A record number of local and foreign tourists are expected to visit Nuwara Eliya during the season that began on April 1.

The month-long festivals at Nuwara Eliya including floral exhibitions, street dramas, musical shows, horse races and carnivals are among the programmes and events to be held in Nuwara Eliya during the month with the assistance of the Nuwara Eliya Mayor’s office, the District Divisional Secretariat (DS), health authorities and Police.

Nuwara Eliya District Hoteliers’ Association member and leading hotelier Nilantha Sahabandu said so far over 80 percent of hotel rooms, guest houses, rest houses and villas in the district have been booked by visitors from various parts of the country.

Sahabandu said unlike in the past few years, 75 percent of hoteliers in the district have rented out their hotel rooms during this year’s festive season. This has also benefitted the many who work in the tourism industry such as tour guides and sight-seeing operators.

Sahabandu said in addition, small-scale businessmen who sell fire crackers, fruits and flowers can also look forward to a good income during this period. The Nuwara Eliya DS thanked the Police for their assistance in maintaining law and order during the season.

SPM Eco Solutions and Coca-Cola to Combat Plastic Pollution in Sri Lanka

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 03-04-2024 |
SPM Eco Solutions, a social enterprise advocating for environmental sustainability, is proud to announce its partnership with Coca-Cola Sri Lanka in the fight against plastic waste pollution in Sri Lanka. This collaboration, stemming from SPM Eco Solutions' victory in the Plastic Innovation Challenge 2023, organized by The Island Climate Initiative (ICI) in conjunction with the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Clean Cities, Blue Ocean (CCBO) program, the National Innovation Agency (NIA), John Keels X (JKX), and MAS Foundation for Change, marks a significant milestone in addressing environmental concerns.

Taking on the critical challenge of plastic waste pollution in Sri Lanka through the promotion of sustainable solutions, Coca-Cola Sri Lanka is set to provide crucial funding to SPM Eco Solutions. This funding empowers SPM Eco Solutions to enhance their decentralized upcycling centers across Sri Lanka by acquiring essential resources, including the design and manufacturing of moulds used in creating value-added products from recycled plastic waste. Additionally, the funding enables SPM to procure machinery crucial for such operations, supporting their expansion efforts, particularly in Batticaloa.

Equipped with necessary infrastructure and machinery like shredders and extruders, these centers, bolstered by Coca-Cola's support, will optimize their processes for transforming recycled plastic into valuable products. This collaborative initiative contributes to the establishment of a circular economy model aimed at minimizing waste and environmental harm. Moreover, the partnership aims to cultivate collaborations with local businesses, waste collection networks, and manufacturers to establish a closed-loop system that promotes economic growth while combatting plastic pollution.
Expressing enthusiasm for the partnership, Pankaj Sinha, Managing Director for Sri Lanka & the Maldives, Coca-Cola Sri Lanka, stated, "We are thrilled to collaborate with SPM Eco Solutions, an outstanding winner of the Plastic Innovation Challenge. This partnership aligns with Coca-Cola's commitment to environmental sustainability and reinforces our dedication to supporting organizations that share our vision and goal for a circular economy in Sri Lanka. We look forward to working closely with SPM Eco Solutions to make a positive impact on the environment and contribute to a more sustainable future.”
SPM Eco Solutions expresses gratitude to Coca-Cola Sri Lanka for their sponsorship, emphasizing their joint commitment to combatting plastic pollution. They also thank Mr. Aravinth for his invaluable guidance and acknowledge the collaborative efforts of partners like ICI, USAID’s CCBO program, NIA, JKX, and MAS Foundation for Change, highlighting their essential role in addressing plastic waste pollution in Sri Lanka and fueling SPM’s commitment to environmental impact.
This partnership represents a significant stride in tackling the pressing environmental challenges confronting the nation, as both Coca-Cola Sri Lanka and SPM Eco Solutions share a common vision of promoting sustainable practices and fostering a positive environmental impact. Together, through collaborative efforts and steadfast support, they endeavor to instigate meaningful change and contribute to a cleaner and greener Sri Lanka.
Photo-captions:
• Image 01 and 02: Jayanthan Amalanathan and Abitharani Jeyachandran, Co-founders of SPM Eco Solutions
• Image 03: Machinery at SPM Eco Solutions
• Image 04: Upcycled items created by SPM Eco Solutions

Niluksha Myelvagana

HNB Leasing launches Govi Saviya for Agri sector

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 03-04-2024 |
Empowering Farmers: HNB Leasing launches Govi Saviya for Agri sector

Consolidating its efforts to empower farmers and ensure the nation’s food security, Sri Lanka’s leading private sector bank, HNB PLC, launched a comprehensive support system under the HNB Leasing Govi Saviya campaign.

The initiative, driven by the bank’s microfinance officers and supported by heavyweights in the agricultural sector, aims to revive the industry with state-of-the-art equipment and knowledge-sharing missions. HNB Deputy General Manager (DGM) —Wholesale Banking Group Damith Pallewatte, DGM - SME & Microfinance, Rajive Dissanayake, DGM - Retail Banking Group Sanjay Wijemanne, microfinance officers, and leading agricultural companies were present at a special ceremony organized to launch the event.

“We are thrilled to launch the ‘HNB Leasing Govi Saviya’ initiative alongside our partners, reaffirming our commitment to every Sri Lankan, from the individual farmer to the large corporations. With nearly half of our nation’s land dedicated to agriculture yet contributing only 6.5% to the GDP, it’s evident that there’s a vast opportunity for growth. Many farmers rely on ancient practices with no access to modernization and financial resources. HNB Leasing Govi Saviya aims to bridge this gap and address any challenges they may face with targeted support backed by innovative financial solutions.

“Our collaboration with microfinance officers and leading agricultural companies is crucial as it allows us to understand and meet unique needs. It allows us the opportunity to offer a comprehensive toolkit for enhancing productivity and ensuring food security. We understand that agriculture plays a pivotal role in our economy and the well-being of our people. This initiative marks a significant step towards establishing a sustainable and thriving agri sector,” HNB DGM - Wholesale Banking Group, Damith Pallewatte.

Building upon the bank’s existing commitments to the sector, HNB partnered with the six main agricultural equipment providers: Browns PLC, DIMO PLC, Hayleys Agriculture PLC, Lanka Commercial Trading, Singer (Sri Lanka), and AMW PLC for additional support. The collaborations will provide farmers access to convenient leasing programmes, customized/flexible repayment options anchored to the Yala and Maha cultivation seasons, and low interest rates.

“We believe in the immense potential of Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector, not only as a cornerstone of our economy but as a vital part of our nation’s future. With HNB Leasing’s Govi Saviya, we are doubling down on our commitment to support our farmers, ensuring they have the resources and support needed to thrive,” HNB Head of Leasing Susith Perera said.

Targeting critical agricultural regions, including the Northern, Eastern, North Central, UVA, Sabaragamuwa, and southern areas, ‘HNB Leasing Govi Saviya’ is designed to support farmers throughout the crucial Yala and Maha seasons.

HNB was also recognized as the Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka for the 14th occasion at the prestigious International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards 2024, hosted by the Asian Banker Magazine. It also won the top prize at the Sri Lanka Sustainability Reporting Awards for 2023, presented by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, the acclaimed UK-based' The Banker Magazine' ranked HNB among the Top 1,000 Banks in the world for the sixth consecutive year. In addition, The Euromoney Trade Finance Survey 2023 adjudged HNB the ‘Best Service Bank’ and the ‘Market Leader’.

Image 01: HNB DGM – Wholesale Banking Group, Damith Pallewatte
Image 02: HNB DGM – Retail Banking Group, Sanjay Wijemanne (third from left) and HNB DGM – Wholesale Banking Group, Damith Pallewatte presenting the first lease of the Govi Saviya Scheme, Dinesh Indika, a customer of the Giriulla Branch in the presence of (from left): HNB Regional Manager, North Central Province, Bandula Monnekulama, HNB AGM – PFS, Kanchana Karungama and HNB Head of Leasing, Susith Perera.

Rishard Rassool

Siyapatha Finance Celebrates the Power of Women
Empower Her, Empower a Nation

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 03-04-2024 |
Empowering her is to empower a nation. Bringing its deep-rooted values to the spotlight this International Women’s Day, Siyapatha Finance PLC united together to celebrate the collective strength, power and achievement of woman and womanhood across the Island Nation.
In hopes of enhancing women’s role in taking leadership, Siyapatha embarked on a special workshop under the theme of “Rise, Shine, and Thrive”, conducted by renowned corporate and personal trainer Irushi Aluwihare.

Siyapatha Finance prides itself in the inclusive and prosperous working environment it has fostered over years of operating in the local corporate sector. Allowing women the freedom to break barriers and reshape the future of the country has been at the heart since inception.
Setting an example to leaders across industries, the company attributes the 40% women’s representation on all tiers to its policy as well as strong belief that creating equal opportunity for growth, regardless of gender and other societal norms, makes way for a strong and deserving team of employees.

The 23% women’s representation among Siyapatha’s customers is further testimony to its vision to empower women to take charge in building a resilient economy and Sri Lanka.
Since its inception in 2005, Siyapatha Finance has contributed to the efforts of women entrepreneurs emerging from all corners of the country. This International Women’s Day, the company aims to launch a host of initiatives under the theme of “Siyapatha Finance Liyaka Mahima”.

As part of unlocking the true potential of women, Siyapatha is determined to carry out island-wide educational and financial literacy programmes throughout the year, focusing on enlightening Sri Lankan women on its impact on the entire nation.
Siyapatha Finance PLC, the largest fully owned subsidiary of the Sampath Bank Group, boasts an island-wide network of branches, including in the North East, ensuring their customers are provided with the best-in-service delivery standards. Over the past 18 years, the company has contributed to the development of small and medium entrepreneurial efforts as well as fulfilling individual financial needs across the island.

Champika Thalgodapitiya