An Oasis for Cancer Patients | Daily News

An Oasis for Cancer Patients

There is greatness all around us. There are so many who have dedicated their lives to helping others. There are so many who are making a difference in the lives of others at this very moment. Sadly, when it comes to most of them, we do not know their names and we do not know who they are. Many will depart from this earth, their contribution often going unrecognized. However, there are others who will be remembered in their lifetime.

These are people like Florence Nightingale and Jayam Wijayaratnam.

The Jayam Wijayaratnam Cancer Care Center was opened on Friday the 8th. It was the dream and vision of the late Jayam Wijayaratnam.

Wijayaratnam, was a compassionate man. He was also a man with a vision. It seems that from the time he was a school boy he had leadership qualities, having been a member of the college first XV rugby team. But he was also a man who came from a powerful family. Three generations of Wijayaratnams have lived in Negombo and are known for their commitment to philanthropy.

Wijayaratnam was a former Deputy Mayor and a third generation businessman. Wijayaratnam wanted to build a cancer hospital in his area after observing the hardships people had to face when travelling to the Maharagama Cancer Hospital for treatment. With adequate space not being available in Negombo, Ragama was chosen as the location for the centre.

After his demise in 2013, his wife Yogeswari Wijayaratnam (Chairperson Jayam Wijayaratnam Trust), embarked on this project.

Daily News attended the inauguration of the Jayam Wijayaratnam Cancer Care Center.

The centre was designed by the renowned architect Anjalendran, and constructed under the supervision of engineer Deepal Wickramasinghe. The centre is built in close proximity to the Colombo North Teaching Hospital Ragama. It is built on the premise that light, colour and a connection to nature, can help people feel better. There is a spacious courtyard with airy verandahs that create a soothing atmosphere. The environment is so calm and tranquil.

“This is a very memorable and happy occasion for me. The staff of a hospital serves humanity. They play a vital role in the social welfare of any society. This hospital was a dream of my late husband Jayam Wijayaratnam, and now it has become a reality. However, during his lifetime, he was not able to see his plans come to fruition. So I felt that it was my calling to make his dream become a reality. I approached the former Minister of Health, and offered him my proposal, and he very gladly accepted my offer. Mr. Anjalendran, the well-known architect, was chosen to design the building. His design was based on a new concept, which was to merge nature with the environment surrounding the patient. It involves open spaces and greenery creating a feeling of serenity,” said Yogeswari Wijayaratnam.

She further stated that loving kindness is at the very core of what they are trying to accomplish here. There is a prayer room for those patients who want to be close to their god, where they can be in communion and practice their faith. There is also the option of having a family member stay at your side, something that is so important when it comes to loving kindness.

“This is a patient-friendly home. I wish to thank everyone who has helped me in this journey. This is very much a humanitarian venture.”

Kavan Ratnayaka Trustee of the JW Trust, took the opportunity to speak a little bit about Jayam Wijayaratnam. He recalled Jayam Wijayaratnam as a gentle giant who was very kind and considerate. “He loved to help others with a passion for travelling. My father was one of his oldest friends. They were in Royal together and they played Rugby together. Jayam Wijayaratnam studied at Royal and then entered the University of Colombo. Jayam Wijayaratnam was a member of the Rugby team that played for the Bradby Shield under the captaincy of the late C.V. Gooneratne. He came from a privileged background,” said Ratnayaka.

Jayam Wijayaratnam was compelled to cut short his university education (He was studying physical sciences) after the death of his father, in order to take over the family business that included a desiccated coconut mill (It was recognized as one of the foremost factories in the country). Because of his expertise in coconuts, he held many prestigious positions in the coconut industry and other related fields.

“I think he would be very happy that we have made his dream come true. He ran the business very successfully. He was very interested in technology. He was a generous benefactor to the people of Negombo. He was loved by the people in his area. Some of my memories of him are childhood memories. I remember him as a gentleman who was always smiling and he enjoyed all the good things in life, once staying at one of the best hotels in Singapore.”

He supported the local community by building a chaitya, and he also sponsored the breakfast meals of Daham Pasal students. He also helped a school by donating a large building with computers. He supported the kovils and the churches.

“His wife, Yogeswari did a Bachelor of Science in Physical Sciences from London, and taught at Bishop’s College. She was constantly by the side of Jayam Wijayaratnam, helping him in all aspects of his life. So, soon after he passed away, Aunty Yogi said that we need to see this through to the end. We all felt strongly about this hospital and we wanted to do it for him. So there were lots of people who supported us. We, the trustees, are very grateful to the entire team who backed us when it came to this venture.”

Archt. Anjalendran, said that in this economic crisis, the opening of this hospital is a joy for all and a cause for great celebration. The building was started four years ago. Anjalendran stated that being part of the creation of this building is a tremendous honour for him.

“This is not just a godsend for the patients, but a godsend to all those who will benefit by the opening of this hospital and for all those who were involved. I would like to thank the entire team that was involved. There were so many challenges we had to face when building this hospital. But we somehow did it,” said Anjalendran.

Director General of Health Services, Dr. Asela Gunawardena, said that this centre is a boon to the field of medicine. “Cancer treatment is very costly and it is a field in medicine that requires our attention, and centres like this will help us when it comes to treating cancer patients. The architecture here is so beautiful, and I am sure it will have a positive influence on the patients. When you have cancer it has an effect on you – mentally and physically. I am sure that the patients will be very comfortable here.”

Trustee, Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy who gave the vote of thanks, said that this project is very commendable. “I would like to thank the doctors who were involved and all others who showed their commitment. Thanks for putting in all the effort that resulted in the project being a success. Thanks for believing in the project from the onset. Thanks for your tireless effort. I would like to thank the architect Anjalendran, because years from now this building will be regarded as one of the greatest works of architecture. It is a landmark building in Sri Lanka. I hope the beauty of this place will give solace to all those who come under its roof and to all those who reside within its four walls. Mrs. Yogeswari’s love for Jayam has now taken the form of this building.”


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