At just the age of thirteen, Nawanjana Diluni Siriwardene, has several swimming accolades to her name, breaking school and national records, and narrowly missing a spot at the 2019 SAARC games by just 2 seconds. Dithmina Dulangi who wants to become a chief justice, has excelled in her studies, sports and announcements and was chosen by many of her school peers as an inspiration to them.
Youth like Nawanjana and Dithmina hold the prestige of our country in their hands. Their skills, innovations, dreams and talent will propel our nation forward. With the right support, they can advance their capabilities and become leaders who encourage generations after them.
In January 2020, all 10 winners of the Abiman Varam programme received laptops and dongle devices at a ceremony at Fonterra’s head office in Biyagama, in the presence of Mr. Sunil Sethi, Managing Director of Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka and the Indian Subcontinent, Roshan Watawala, Sales Director, News 1st and members of their respective teams.
The Abiman Varam programme has empowered 10 exceptionally talented students, chosen in 10 different diverse categories. At the finale last year, they were given a scholarship and began a 1-year mentorship to hone their skills and further develop their talents in their chosen fields. The programme, which was officially launched in July 2019 by Anchor and The Champion Network, tracks the students’ progress and provides them with tailored support depending on their needs.
The initiative is almost a year old now but the effort to empower its winners has never lost momentum. A group of passionate, dedicated people behind the Anchor and MBC teams, many of whom have been involved from the very beginning, engage continuously to monitor the success of the children and plan for the next steps in their journey.
Dinith Pathirana, Anchor Brand Manager, Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka said at the event, “Abiman Varam aims to provide these students with opportunities to showcase their talents and achieve their dreams.”
“We keep track of the students’ progress and continuously support them. Providing them with this simple technology and connectivity was a small and humble initiative that we hope will be a source for them to gain knowledge, supporting them on their journey.”
Nikesh Ranasinghe, the winner for the innovation category expressed his thoughts, “With the laptop I received today, I can expand my knowledge and research through the internet for more innovations. My only dream is to become an engineer, develop these innovations for the country and then introduce them to the world.”
Dithmina Dulangi says, “I had a lot of concerns regarding the future but now I feel more confident in attaining my dream. As students who have received this gift, it will be very useful for our future and I believe that we can now access knowledge not only within this country but also worldwide.”
Parents who were present at the occasion expressed their joy and pride at the achievements of their children. They also thanked Anchor for financing the various classes that their children are taking. Mrs. Disna Fernando was delighted that her daughter Nawanjana was chosen and said that their collective goal was to work towards winning a medal for Sri Lanka at an international level. Nawanjana’s ultimate goal is to receive an Olympic medal and she is also working on an English course outside of her regular studies and swimming practices.
Dithmina Dulangi’s mother who is a single mother with health concerns, said that the scholarship and this opportunity has helped them immensely since the programme is paying for Dulangi’s A-level classes in applied maths, pure maths, two chemistry classes and two physics classes. Once her A-levels are over, Dulangi will also start the Esoft diploma in English, which will also be funded by Anchor. Because of her daughter’s participation in the programme, her daughter has received more recognition in her school and the district.
Mr. Sethi, addressed the students after the ceremony stating, “This programme selects exceptionally talented students who are rich in ideas but challenged in infrastructure and resources to implement them. Personally, I feel very proud to be a part of this initiative. Each one of you is a star. Make your parents and your country proud.”