November 30, 2020
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    Grit drives Cpl Karunaratne on peace mission Featured

    January 06, 2019

    Courage and determination was at the forefront when Corporal Gemunu Karunaratne of the 6th Gajaba Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army reached his final destination in Point Pedro on December 11 completing a cross country wheelchair expedition.

    Corporal Karunaratne’s journey included the length of the country spanning from Dondra Head to Point Pedro covering a distance of 576 km over eight days starting from December 3. Corporal Karunaratne shared details about the background and the experiences gained throughout the expedition.

    ‘The journey which started from Dondra Head first arrived in Matara and continued into Galle. After arriving in the capital Colombo the expedition continued towards Anuradhapura through Wariyapola. From Anuradhapura the journey continued towards the final destination of Point Pedro through Vavuniya, Kilinochchi and Kokavil,’ said Corporal Karunaratne.

    The proposal to conduct a journey spanning the length of the country was first presented by Corporal Madushanka of the health unit of the Army.

    The plan was then informed to Abimansala health care centre Commander Lieutenant Colonel Sujeewa Perera who enabled Corporal Karunaratne to meet the rehabilitation Director General of the army which in turn provided Corporal Karunaratne with the opportunity to meet the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake.

    Corporal Karunaratne explained, ‘I embarked on this journey to heal the broken hearts of all ethnicities due to the pain and suffering endured in war time and to mend the divisions between races and religions which increased during the war’.

    He reminisced how people in the south clapped, praised and worshipped him when he was travelling through the towns in the south of the country. But he also fondly recalls how people in the north gave him the same kind of reception as in the south by praising him and taking photos with him.

    He went on the expedition carrying the message of peace and looking at the reaction he received from Tamil and Sinhala ethnicities in North and South of the country, Corporal Karunaratne feels that he succeeded in his mission.

    Corporal Karunaratne remarked, ‘I lost my legs and fingers in 2009 while serving in the 6th Gajaba Regiment due to a death trap set up by the LTTE in Pudukuduirrippu. The attack left seven of my colleagues dead and 13 others injured’. He is currently undergoing a recovery program at the Abhimansala health care centre in Paangolla, Kurunegala. Talking about his personal life, Corporal Karunaratne mentioned he is married to WPC Dayani Lakmini with whom he has a three-year old son named Pubudu Akila.

    Many officials and persons helped Corporal Karunaratne to successfully complete his endeavour. Army Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake provided Karunaratne with two wheelchairs to complete the expedition. All staff led by the commander of the Abhimansala health care centre Lieutenant Colonel Sujeewa Perera helped Corporal Karunaratne to achieve his dream and members of the Gajaba Regiment including the commander of the Gajaba Regiment Major General Shavendra Silva also helped Corporal Karunaratne in his expedition.

    Throughout the journey soldiers of all army camps along the expedition route came out to support and motivate Corporal Karunaratne in his journey towards Point Pedro.


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