Ex-soldier on mission  to raise funds for fight against cancer


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Maj. Ruwan Ranatunga at Deniyaya

Major Ruwan Ranatunga, formerly of the Artillery Regiment is on a mission to raise much needed funds for two charities looking after cancer patients.

Having launched his ‘Long Walk of Hope’, on May 30, from Dondra, Ranatunga reached Ibbagamuwa on Tuesday evening. Ranatunga intends to reach Point Pedro within one and half months where he is expected to be joined by his wife, Meneka and ten-year-old son, Randa.

Speaking to The Island over the phone, Ranatunga said that his aim was to raise awareness among the public of the utmost need to alleviate the suffering of cancer patients. Ranatunga said: "Although I initially intended to walk about 500 kms during the journey from Dondra to Point Pedro, it is now likely to be much more due to my taking a circuitous route. Now, I may end up walking over 600 kms. By June 18 evening, I had walked more than 400 kms."

The following day, Ranatunga walked about 17 kms to reach Kumbukkgete.

Asked whether he was on his own, Ranatunga said that one of his friends, Indunil de Silva had stayed with him since the mission began on May 30.

An alumnus of Sandhurst, Ruwan is retired Major General Wajira Wijeyaratne’s son-in-law.

Asked whether he was confident of reaching Point Pedro, Ranatunga said that as he had passed extremely difficult terrain he didn’t anticipate any trouble. He had braved monsoon conditions in Sinharaja and strong winds at Sri Pada.

Responding to another query, the ex-soldier said that he intended to walk west of the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road once he passed Anuradhapura.

Ranatunga’s effort is in support of the CCC house, a 188-bed cancer transit home for outpatients at the National Cancer Institute at Maharagama and the ‘Colours of Courage’ Pediatric Cancer Ward under construction at Tellipalai. The ex-soldier plans to divide the funds equally between the two projects.

Ranatunga said that he always wanted to walk from one end of the country to the other. Asked whether he had the backing of the SLA, Ranatunga said that he was banking on individuals who could throw their weight behind his effort. 

General Wijeyaratne told The Island that he expected that the Tamil community would appreciate Ruwan’s effort especially in the post-war era. Wijeyaratne, who had served in many operational areas, including Jaffna, said that the ongoing project to provide relief to cancer patients in the north as well as south could bring the two communities together.

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