sri express

Dr. Tilak S. Fernando Courtesy Ceylon Today

On the 19 September 2017, the writer started on a journey from Colombo to Habarana, following a tragedy that was highlighted by Sirasa News First programme on a heartbreaking new flash about Kavishka Sandaruwan, a seven-day-old baby who died due to an “unprecedented dogguzzling.” She had been wrapped up with some “rags” (the only sheets parents could afford) and placed the baby on the clay floor and covered with a mesh inside the family’s “shanty.

” The gruesome news item touched so many compassionate hearts globally, including the writer’s wife, who was aghast and decided to make a philanthropic visit to Namalpura, Asirigama village in Habarana, to meet the affected family, which the TV journalist kindly arranged.

The area Samurdi Officer, Dhanapala arranged by the Sirasa correspondent Pradeep Gunawardena, accompanied us to the baby’s parents.The journey from the carpeted main Dambulla Road to a rural village called Namalpura was not motorable at all. What struck during that rugged ride was that the entire village environment had been desiccated due to the severe drought that affected the area, and people were suffering without having a drop of water, for their personal use.

Climax of poverty

Finally, we reached a small, crudely-built shack where the deceased baby’s father, Sampath Kumara, 26, a casual labourer, and his wife, Nirosha Kumari, 24, lived with two other young daughters. On this ominous morning, Kumara had left the house to pick a honeycomb; his father-in-law and mother-in-law too had to be out, leaving Kumari Nirosha with two young daughters in their bare hut.

Sampath does not get jobs regularly. Whenever he is out of work, the whole family is compelled to starve. That being the case, he had gone on that morning to pluck a honeycomb, at least thereby to earn some money out of selling bees’ honey. In the meanwhile, the two little girls were crying out of hunger. So, Nirosha Kumari had sent them to a neighbour to borrow two cups of rice and when the girls returned, they all went to the kitchen to boil the rice, which had access only from the front door.

Suddenly, Nirosha Kumari rushed inside in response to a horrendous howling of the baby. She was shocked and horror-struck having to witness a stray dog attacking her baby probably thinking it was a piece of meat (wrapped in rags). When Kumari started screaming out of sheer disbelief, and seeing what was happening to her dear baby girl, the dog had roared and run away, holding a piece of meat from baby’s head in his mouth, while leaving another piece of flesh on the floor. The funeral had taken place on the day before our arrival.

Myths

There were many folklore opinions surrounding the strange incident. Some believed that newborn babies should not be left alone as some evil spirits (Disti) may attack them (due to ‘Thanikama’) for which, people place an iron nail under the baby’s pillow.

Nirosha Kumari said she had never seen a ‘woolly dog’ in that area before that looked like a wolf. But neighbours seemed to think that it was none other than a hungry stray dog. Other opinions attributed to the fact that the dog may have been attracted to the smell of milk in the baby’s mouth. However, the post mortem confirmed that ‘the death was due to an attack by a dog.’

The next immediate problem that cropped up was how to assist the unfortunate couple, as neither of them possessed a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, or even an identity card. The Samurdi Officer Dhanapala lamented explaining how agonizing it was for him to bear, when he came across the majority of poor families in the village did not possess even an ID to assist them officially.

Grave problem

Sampath Kumara, particularly, had an additional problem of having a bare hut without any furniture except only the four walls (in both rooms). In such a dilemma how could they keep even the philanthropic contributions in a safe manner? They also did not have a bank account. Despite such drawbacks, as a preliminary assistance, the baby’s seventh day alms-giving to the local Buddhist monks was taken care of the writer’s wife. Dhanapala and Sirasa journalist are working in the meanwhile, enthusiastically, to find a solution to issue the couple with IDs with a view to open a bank account for them to overcome their immediate difficulties . When it is sorted out it has been suggested that the bank account should be in the form of a trust fund requiring two additional signatories (may be from the Namalpura Asirigama Viharadhipathy and probably with the Grama Niladhari to ensure that such money reserves are not wasted, but utilized at least for the benefit of the two living girls.

On 7 October, some Samaritans from Kandy had visited the village and distributed dry rations to 25 poor families, including the Namalpura Asirigama Vihara. It is an indignity that only the media institutions and the community hearts seem to melt, having seen or heard about such woeful stories about the suffering of innocent, poor villages while Parliamentarians tend todisplay their vulgarity by being selfish and concentrating only on their own luxuries. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

One Response to “DEPRIVED AND DISCARDED”

  • Dharmasiri Weerasinghe Says:
  • October 14th, 2017 at 3:16 pm 
Tilak
Can you please let us know the bank account details so that we also can contribute to the benefit of the two little girls.

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