‘A heart of gold for home and community’

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Born on 1August 1930 to the affluent family of Mudaliyar Peter Paul Weerasekera and Dona Francina Jayakody, of Dambuwa Walawwa, in Yakkala, Gampaha, the baby boy was named Jagathsingha Chandrawansa Weerasekera, by the first global Buddhist missionary Anagarika Dharmapala.

Growing up in an elite and influential, crème de la crème of high society, he shaped into an erudite intellectual and spirited business leader. He was fondly called ‘Singha,’ a name that became synonymous with magnanimity and philanthropy.He travelled the globe and lived a full, contented life, and passed away on 26 May 2021, aged 91 years. Commemorating his 92nd birth anniversary, his poignant life story is retold, capturing the essence of his values, best practices, and how he lovingly secured a bright future for orphaned children.

Incidentally, he was orphaned as the sole survivor of the Dambuwa Walawwa at the tender age of 6, when both his parents passed away within four months in 1937, due to illness. Perhaps he has been predestined to track in his father’s benevolent footsteps, moved by his sensitivity to his own life experience.

The appointment of Neil Hewavitarne, (a member of the State Council) as Singha’s guardian, marked a significant turning point in the orphan’s growing years. When Mrs. Hewavitarne (Singha’s cousin) and their half-a-dozen daughters lovingly absorbed little Singha into their big happy family, little did they know that they were laying a solid foundation to raise him up, to be the best he can be.

Singha’s first school, Visakha Vidyalaya, and then, Royal College Colombo were mere stepping stones, until fate moved him to Trinity College Kandy (1938 – 1950) where he blossomed, making great friends for life, and thriving in academics, and sports, playing the flanker of Trinity College First XV Rugby Team in 1949.

In 1952, a Colombo Plan Scholarship saw him fly overseas to Gatton College of Agriculture, Queensland, Australia, to obtain his Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture. On his return, he joined HDon Carolis & Sons Ltd, the largest furniture business at the time in Ceylon, as a marketing executive. Mr. Raja Hewavitarne (the brother of his childhood guardian), was its Chairman during this time.

On the blessed day of 16 February 1956, Singha married his fiancée, Mala Hewavitarne, the daughter of his Chairman.

The most memorable moment of his life, was his 8-month-long honeymoon tour of Europe, living it up in Venice, Rome, Britain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and France, between February and October.

In 1960, while pursuing his career at Don Carolis and Sons, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce selected Singha to attend the MBA programme at the first International Marketing Institute of the Harvard Business School (USA), open to Marketing Managers from across the globe, a learning experience Singha cherished.

In due course, Singha became the Managing Director and Chairman of HDon Carolis & Sons Ltd, the supreme furniture empire. Being innovative and daring, he became the Founder Chairman of Parquet Ceylon Ltd, Metal Pressing and Engineering Company Ltd, and Mitsui Construction Lanka (Private) Ltd.

Singha also served as the Chairman of the National Lotteries Board and Ceylon Match Company. When the Eastern Bank converted into the Commercial Bank, he was the youngest board member. And he was a Director of many other leading business entities.

Inspired by his parents’ noble commitment to community service, Singha transformed their sprawling ancestral Dambuwa Walawwa, into Peter Weerasekera Children’s Home, as a fitting tribute to his father, and officially declared it open by Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, on 5 March 1959, commemorating his mother’s death anniversary.

Inspired by societal values, Singha firmly believed that “There is nothing more touching in a human being than reaching out in another’s need.”Genuinely caring for the less fortunate, he reached out to orphaned children to help them discover their full potential in life, the way he did. He gave his might to the upliftment and care of youth, guiding them to become useful citizens in the community.

His family, donors, and volunteer staff seconded Singha’s efforts in supplying resources and taking the orphans under his wing. The home is managed by the Trustees of Peter Weerasekera Foundation under the supervision of the Government Department of Probation and Childcare Services.

Ever grateful for the blessings he received in his life through a trustee, Singha committed his services as a Board member of the Dharmapala Trust and Mudaliyar Don Carolis Hewavitarne Scholarship Trust. Being a staunch practising Buddhist, he was also appointed as the Vice President of the Mahabodhi Society.

Singha has travelled the globe widely, written his memoir, and has enjoyed life to the fullest. We believe it wholeheartedly, when he says, “The most blessed thing in my life is my wife Mala, and my children.”

We also believe that this incredibly loving human being, Singha, gave what he gave, from the depth of his lion heart.

May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana!