Indrani Iriyagolle

As the immediate past President of the Sri Lanka Women’s Conference I would be failing in my duty  if I do not pay tribute to my friends Indrani Iriyagolla who passed away recently sending shock ways among her friends and associates.

She assumed office as the President of the SLWC at our last biennial meeting a little over a year ago. Those of us who have known her and worked with her feel a profound loss. She was associated with the SLWC for nearly three decades, organizing workshops was her forte. Our Diamond Jubilee celebration was a total success due to her untiring efforts. She organized a very successful workshop for the Federation of University Women.

Many SLWC affiliates sought her advice on similar projects.  She strengthened our ties with the International Alliance of Women (IAW), when she was elected as co-chairperson of the Social Commission. She was awarded the Mary Rutnam Gold Medal for her outstanding social service. Whenever her name was suggested to be the President of the SLWC she declined saying that she was very busy with her pet project the Sinhala Kantha Abivruddhi Sanvidanaya, a Sinhala women’s organization for the welfare and advancement of women at grassroots level.

She spared no pains to bring this organization to what it is today, giving expertise and knowledge to serve the community on improving the lot of underprivileged women and girls. She added new dimension to her organization emphasizing the implementation of development and rehabilitation projects in the remote areas of Anuradhapura, Amparai, Vavuniya, Batticaloa and Jaffna. She was held in high esteem as the President of this organization for her unflagging commitment vision and dedication to improve the lives of the less fortunate.

Apart from this she was also involved in a number of NGOs. Her one aim was to focus on the income generation and integrated community development. She also served as the Chairperson of the National Committee on Women. It was only a few weeks ago that she was appointed as a trustee of the All Ceylon Women’s Buddhist Congress.

There was something very special about this unique personality. She was always elegantly groomed in spite of her busy schedule. Her combined vision and common sense has helped women countrywide. Her optimism was often contagious and her tireless leadership mobilized hundreds of village women to work for their less fortunate sisters.

Indrani Jayasinghe hailed from a much respected family from Badulla. It was her grandfather, William Jayasinghe, who established the first Buddhist English School for boys in Badulla. Today it is one of the leading boy’s schools in Badulla. Her academic achievements were many. She had a short stint as a school teacher but she retired prematurely when she married Gamini Iriyagolla as she had to attend to her family and pursue her social service activities.

Her family was very proud of her achievements. She never neglected her family.  She was a loving sister to six siblings. A doting mother to a son and daughter and an adoring grandmother to four grandchildren. She also had an extraordinary ability to share her vision with others in such a way that it became their vision. The inspired became the doers.

It is a pity in her relentless pursuit of concrete action she may have neglected her health. The inspiration she embodied will surface in our activities again and again. Her sharp intelligence, the clarity of her vision, her boundless energy and above all her ability to see everything in a positive light well served all organizations she worked with. She believed that the impossible is always possible. She has left a legacy that commits us to carry on the good work she started. The contribution she made giving form and substance to the social and economic aspirations of our people and to the less privileged women in the country will remain for years to come.

May her journey in samsara be short and sweet till she attains the supreme bliss of nibbana

Lakshmi Perera

On behalf of the SLWC and Member Affiliates 

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