Deshabandu, Deshashakthi , Lion Dr. Soma Edirisinghe MJF, JP Past District Governor District 306 C2
Dr. Soma Edirisinghe is a remarkable lady who has more than a few passions in life. As you would read below her passions in early life have been mostly centered around her family and the family business, but right along her passion for touching the lives of the poorest of the poor has never taken backseat.
Early History –
Dr. Soma Edirisinghe was born in Meegoda on 05th July 1939 to a family of nine girls. Blessed with plenty and opportunity to live a comfortable and contended life, young Soma was never completely content or happy. Her calling was from a very different direction… where tears fell abundantly; the lonely cried for love, the hungry yearned for food, the sick lay stricken with disease and the desperate in utter hopelessness. She knew it was time to answer destiny’s call. Her journey of touching lives began with the devastating flood that engulfed the North Central Province of the country in 1960; she with a group of popular personalities carried out relief operations helping those who had lost it all. Thus began an epic journey filled with numerous obstacles and hardships, yet lined with promise and hope.
Her Mission –
To respect and embrace human diversity, whilst Improving lives through selfless, courageous and compassionate acts, thus seeking to deliver the less privileged from the clutches of poverty, suffering and pain
Business Entrepreneur –
Her career as an entrepreneur began in 1974 with the sudden demise of her husband Mr. EAP Edirisinghe, the founder of the EAP group of Companies. Overnight she was turned from a simple housewife into an active business woman. From that day onwards she has been playing a leading role as the Chairperson of the EAP Group of Companies. The Organization which consists of 25 subsidiaries deals in diverse areas of businesses such as Broadcasting, Telecasting, Financial Services, Production and Exhibition of Films, Retailing Gold Jewellery & Pawning Services, Housing, & Land Sales, Hotels, Importing and Retailing of Vehicles etc and is today one of the largest business conglomerates in the country. Her success is attributed to her charismatic leadership and vision, proper time management, thorough planning, her inevitable kindness and profound devotion to human life.
Early History –
Lion Dr. Soma Edirisinghe MJF joined the Lions Club of Thimbirigasyaya on its inception in 1974 and has right along been an active member holding various positions within the association. These include the distinction of being the first ever Lady President in 1994/95, and winning the most outstanding club award in the same year, first ever Lady Secretary and Treasurer of the Club, and winning the award for the Best Secretary and Best Treasurer in the district respectively. With being elected District Zone Chairperson in 1995/96 Lion Soma went on to hold several key positions such as Region Coordinator, Region Chairperson and District Governor’s Coordinator. Through her tireless efforts, Lion Soma, has raised funds of over Rs. 10M for her club and over Rs. 12M for the district since 1992. She also holds the unique distinction of being the first lady to be elected to the position of District Governor 2003 -2004.
Elected to serve as the President of the Lions Club District 306 C2 for the years 1994/95.
Elected to serve as the District Governor of International Association of Lions Club District 306 C2 at its Annual Convention held in Colombo on 18th March 2003.
What was once a passion of Dr. Soma Edirisinghe has today blossomed into an gigantic social service organization that is well known across the country and whose projects spearheaded my Dr. Soma herself is greatly appreciated by all Sri Lankans living throughout the country. Her quest for challenges, being result driven, the flair for PR and her invincible personality has helped her achieve this remarkable feat.
This endearing leader and role model counts her blessings not by rupees and cents but by how many hearts she has been able to touch and how much hope she has been able to give to her less fortunate fellow men, women and children.
Dr. Soma Edirisinghe is the Founder, Chairperson and Brainchild of the Janasarana Foundation, an independent not for profit organization that evolves round the key premise of helping the most unfortunate and neglected sectors of society, is a leading entrepreneur a dedicated philanthropist and a renowned social worker. Her vision of seeking to deliver the less privileged from the clutches of poverty, suffering and pain has been successfully accomplished by way of assisting the Physically Handicapped, establishing the Sunhinda home for the elders , Chuo Maithree Pre-school, the Suwanetha Mobile Eye Care Clinic, The Punarjeewa Fund for assisting the poor to undergo heart surgery, upgrading underdeveloped hospitals , scholarships and assistance to under privileged school children & underdeveloped schools, helping destitute families and those displaced by war to get back on their feet, building houses for those affected by natural disasters such as the Floods, Drought and the Tsunami and most recently setting up of the Suwanetha Lions Eye Hospital.
In recognition of her humanitarian services she has been recognized with numerous awards of National and International importance, which includes Deshabandu National Award & Gold Medal for outstanding humanitarian services to the nation in January 2004, Deshashakthi National award for outstanding humanitarian services to the nation, The People’s Award 2007 – “People’s Social Worker of the Year”, 100% District Governors Award & the Ambassador of Goodwill Award presented by the International Association of Lions Clubs. Dr Soma has constantly challenged herself and those around her to find new ways of helping the poorest of poor, the helpless aged, the sick, and the lame, those in dire need of food, clothing, shelter, education and critical medical help. She has always triumphed in her endeavors. Dr. Soma who has inspired the country with her exceptional humanitarian accomplishments through the last 50 years is today an icon of compassion, a friend-in-need to the poorest of poor, a positive role model to her fellow citizens and an inspiration to the world.
- Deshabandu National Award & Gold Medal for outstanding humanitarian services to the nation in January 2004
- Deshashakthi National award for outstanding humanitarian services to the nation presented by the then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Hon. Mahinda Rajapakse in 2005, now the President of Sri Lanka.
- Excellency Award 2006 presented by the Society of Sri Lanka Justices of Peace and Human Rights Organization and Sulabh International Academy of Environmental Sanitation, New Delhi, India.
- Sanitation New Delhi and the Society of the Sri Lanka Justices of the Peace for humanitarian services.
- Conferred Honorary Doctorate for Entrepreneurship and Social Service from the Open University of Sri Lanka in 2005
Unparalleled feat of being awarded ‘Lion of the Year’ on four occasions. (1994/95, 1995/96, 1997/98, 1999/2000)
- First Woman District Governor of Lions District 306 C, elected with an overwhelming majority in the Lionistic year 2003 – 2004
Swarnabimanya Award presented by the Mayor of Colombo Prassanna Gunawardena in March 2004 in recognition of outstanding services to the public.
- Sandamadala Sammanaya Award presented by the First Lady Madam Shiranthi Rajapakshe for the “Lady who has won the hearts of many in every way”, a through a poll organized by M/s Upali Newspapers in May 2005
- Sandamadala Sammanaya Award presented by the Minister of Industrial Development& Ranaviru Rehabilitation Mr. Kumara Welgama for the “Lady who has won the hearts of many in Business Entrepreneurship”, through a poll organized by M/s Upali Newspapers in May 2006
As Lion’s District Governor, initiated 2,604 projects.
- Ambassador of Goodwill Award presented by the International Association of Lions Clubs in recognition of outstanding humanitarian services, presented by International President Lion Clement Kusiak in 2005.
- The being the third time this award has been received by a Sri Lankan in the past 50 years of Lionism in Sri Lanka.
- Special Award of Appreciation – Presented by the SAARC Women’s Chamber of Commerce for Building Bridges of Friendship in 2001
100% District Governors Award by Lions International President Tae Sup Lee in 2005
- Justice of the Peace – All Island – Presented by Justice Balakrishana, Judge Court of Appeal 1987
- Top Ten Lion Lady Appreciation Award
- District Governor’s Appreciation Award
- International President’s Appreciation Certificates (7)
- Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow
- The People’s Award 2007 – “People’s Social Worker of the Year” – presented by the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing in recognition of outstanding services rendered to the community
- Sarasavi Award for the Best Film 1995 “Seylama”
- Sarasavi Award for the Best Film 199 “Re Deniyal Daval Migel 11”
- Sarasavi Award for the Most Popular Film 2001 “Rosa Wasanthaya”
- Presidential Award for the Best Film 2005 “Ira Mediyama”
- Sarasavi Award for the Best Film 2005 “Ira Mediyama”
- Sarasavi Award for the Most Popular Film “Hiripoda Wessa”
- Award for the “Excellent Social Worker by Empowering Women in the Society” presented on International Women’s Day Celebration 2011 by the Hon. Prime Minister D. M. Jayarathne
With the conclusion of my tenure in year 2003 as the first ever woman district Governor in the International Association of Lion’s Club District 306C-Sri Lanka where over 2500 noteworthy social service projects were initiated and successfully completed, I realized I was not ready to hang up my boots, in fact I was yearning to reach-out with the message of hope to an even wider spectrum of the needy, living in the remotest corners of the countryWith passionate requests pouring in from the less fortunate of society asking me to continue my work I knew nothing was going to stop me on my poignant journey of helping them. However things happened faster than I anticipated with the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. There was no time to contemplate, my team and I sprung into action. With this gigantic humanitarian task was born the Janasarana Movement, an inspiring story of love, courage and compassion that has touched the hearts of thousands with a ray of hope!
Subsequently we kept receiving on a daily basis hundreds of letters filled with pain and anguish seeking help for various reasons. With this commenced a series of projects related to self employment, the physically handicapped, housing, water, sanitation, helping underprivileged schools and conducting mobile eye care camps etc. Today the Janasarana Foundation in addition to its regular projects proudly manages five gigantic ventures namely the Suwanetha Mobile Eye Care Clinic, Sunhinda Lions Care Center for Elders, the Suwanetha Lions Eye Hospital, the Punarjeewa Fund for Heart operations and the Chuo-Maithree Pre-School for children of low income families.
Within this short period of seven years Janasarana has reached out to hundreds of thousands of the poorest of poor living in very difficult areas of the country where hope remains a faraway dream, thus becoming one of Sri Lanka’s leading social service organizations associating itself with a range of services to a broad spectrum of people.
anasarana bound by the three basic precepts Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance ensures that all funding including public donations are professionally accounted for and the reports made available to donors and those interested. Additionally a monthly programme on the activities of Janasarana is telecast on Swarnavahini TV belonging to the EAP Networks so as to keep the general public aware of its activities.
I am indeed proud of Janasarana’s past achievements but also very much aware of the huge amount work that has to be done in order to eradicate poverty, improve the quality of life and promote sustainable livelihoods.
In order to carry on the good work of the Janasarana Foundation I earnestly appeal to generous benefactors to come forward in supporting us financially, be it big or small your kind donations will go a long way in giving hope to those who need it most.
Dr. Soma Edirisinghe
Chairperson Janasarana Foundation