Lakshan Seneviratne’s accomplishments loom larger than life itself! The 22 year old has impacted thousands through his magnanimous efforts and soared to unparalleled heights, yet to be reached by many who are much older to him. Browsing through his website was sufficient to cause one to gasp with astonishment, as he’s nothing short of a prodigy!
Lakshan Seneviratne’s active lifestyle, career and community service has caused him to be a cynosure in Sri Lanka’s elite circle encompassing the business, political and social landscape.
A youth, a human… just like you, but one who stands for women’s and children’s rights, Founder, Youth Ambassador, Businessman – a powerful orator and much more. He has always stood up for peace and harmony in all multi-cultural societies and spoken about the need to be more humane towards the marginalized. He has strongly condemned the use of violence to resolve conflicts and other social issues.
ELEGANT: How do you manage your multi-faceted roles? (This was literally the first question I asked LS after browsing through his website)
LAKSHAN: Being involved in the family business W. U. Seneviratne & Company Pvt Ltd, located in Sri Lanka and Dubai is a sacrifice required by us, but it also provides me with the opportunity to serve the destitute and down trodden as the satisfaction gained from helping those who cannot repay you is priceless. I also make use of every moment to either develop the business or render more of my skills to society and our country.
ELEGANT: We would class you as a rare find among a generation preoccupied with securing its own fame and fortune without pausing to help the poor. Who or what has been your source of inspiration?
LAKSHAN: My maternal grandparents and maternal grandaunts (grandmother’s sisters) were and still are a great source of inspiration. They live in close proximity to our home and I spent most of my childhood surrounded by them. Since young days, they would encourage me to read and gift me with the adventure stories and more, urging me to read to them. This paved the way for my voracious appetite for reading, writing, love for acquiring knowledge, debating and more. My parents and brother too have been extremely supportive of my prerogatives.
ELEGANT: We are aware that you prefer to remain reticent about your family business but it is nevertheless an enormous part of your life, hence we would urge you to elaborate on it.
LAKSHAN: We are Sri Lanka’s largest envelopes and paper bag manufacturer with a formidable business presence of over twenty four (24) years. In addition, our contribution to mitigating the waste crisis faced by Sri Lanka by manufacturing food graded / degradable paper products to a number of clients within the country and the international arena is commended, specifically for its focus on ethical practices. Our customer processes gives them an edge where their time could be reduced in the market with an all in all service package starting from envelopes to printing to courier services. We take pride on ourselves on daring to push the boundaries of creativity and solutions in order to mould the business to the next level.
ELEGANT: We are keen to know about your charity work, which in essence forms a significant part of who you are as an individual?
LAKSHAN: Well, I have always felt compassion for our fellow human beings, mainly due to my upbringing. Despite their busy schedules my parents inculcated a deep sense of what we as entrepreneurs could do for those who are near and dear to us- our subordinates, society and the country. The example set by my parents in taking care of my maternal grandparents and grand aunts has given me a profound understanding of what it means to look after the aged and enfeebled folks. Even our caregivers were and are treated as kith and kin. This grew into a way of life for me as I became more involved in social work through UN and other NGOs and finally decided to establish my own foundation called, ‘Be the Change Foundation.’
ELEGANT: What was the purpose behind the name?
LAKSHAN: I have observed the mistakes we make as citizens and the way we judge others but rarely do we question our ability to set the record straight. Maybe our contribution is small but it is a step towards being the change you want to see. Hence the slogan which is kind of cliché tic but it resonates a more in-depth struggle faced by humans on a daily basis. Maybe no one will notice but it does count.
‘Be The Change Foundation’ was founded in 2014 to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated.
The Foundation is dedicated to ‘Inspire Youth and Empower Bravery’ while creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a kinder, loving world. He believes that everyone has the right to feel safe, to be empowered and to make a difference in the world by being examples towards the youth.
Mentioned below are a few of the campaigns Lakshan has initiated, incorporating the creed of the foundation which is- to be the change…
‘Give Blood’ – This was the very first campaign which took place on 26th September 2014. Its goal was to donate the blood collected by generous donors to Blood Bank of Sri Lanka.
‘Time Starts Today’ – Children though unique in every way can be guided towards the correct path of channeling their feelings towards loving and accepting each other.
‘Life Empowerment Program for the Blind’ – Supporting equality for people with disabilities by training the teaching staff and supplying specialist-learning tools. We campaigned and advocated for change by working with the government to tackle problems at the root and we aim to make changes for the long term, to support the people who need it most.
‘Red Ribbon’ Campaign – The benchmark set through this campaign prompted Sri Lanka’s Largest HIV organization, Lanka Plus to invite Lakshan to join the Board.
AIDS Day Awareness at APIIT City Campus
Recognizing and Implementing the Rights of Future Generation – Lakshan was honoured to be part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) alongside the United Nations on planning for a brighter future for the next generation and addressing the most harmful stigmas that need to be dealt with.
Advocating To Eliminate Gender-Based Violence and Equal Rights
International Women’s Day with Sri Lankan United Nation Friendship Organization
Sri-Panee Preschool Kalalgoda – Sri-Panee Preschool was founded on 4th February 1968 and their perennial goal has been to grant children the benefit of a good education irrespective of their ethnicity. On their golden jubilee, Lakshan who is honoured to be part of the Board of Members supported and continues to support their efforts to educate children.
‘Children Of Sri Lanka’ – Sri Lanka has made major advances in ensuring the welfare of children in many fields, especially in health and education. This was a massive campaign with several NGO’s to protect the children of Sri Lanka.
National Mental Health Day 2017 Program – This years’ theme was ‘Pratibha’ it means “genius”, “ingenuity”, “light”, “intelligence” and “uniqueness”. Mental health has no diagnostic symptoms, it has no face, no time, not in the least detectable and on top of that, it is highly stigmatized leading to neglect and complications.
Without Borders, Colombo Classrooms 2017 – Their idea was to run a basic after school program where we teach English to children and adults in Deraniyagala. Fast forward three years, from around 10 volunteers, 30 students and no monetary support, they currently run three idea labs, impacting over 1500 trainees across seven (07) deep rural communities and goes to the extent of employing the qualified students as trainers.
Lakshan’s solidarity at refusing to be stoic or anesthetized by the sufferings of humanity has stirred up a ripple effect among all strata-of-society and caused him to be invited to take on the political reigns but for now he wishes to delay that calling in order to strengthen his mandate for social work.
ELEGANT: As a writer, you have appealed to a number of readers through your inaugural book, ‘The Best Thing Ever’. Is there a sequel to it?
LAKSHAN: Yes, and it is currently awaiting approval from the Publisher but I will not reveal too much and ruin the surprise!
ELEGANT: Would you like to convey a message to the readers?
LAKSHAN: I am extremely grateful to those I have had the privilege of associating and learning from along the way and the message I would like to convey is…
There is so much greatness and love in this world; you must just be the change to show it. But always… Be yourself! Do not let anyone ever tell you, that you cannot achieve your dreams just because society does not understand you; the most important thing in people’s creativity is that you honour your creativity without ignoring its value and use it intentionally in promulgating love, peace and hope.
Lakshan possesses a youthful vitality and a positive outlook, which cannot be quelled despite taking on the mantle of a responsible citizen; shouldering the business legacy of his family, social work and developing his skills as a prolific writer, orator and much more. Nothing has deterred Lakshan from pursuing his goals for himself, his community and his country, but the journey has not been without its challenges. Yet, the young visionary, forges ahead with zeal towards that all important goal of seeing Mother Lanka and its people thrive!
On the 9th of June 2018, the FPA Sri Lanka’s Annual General Meeting took place at which the new National Council Team was elected for the period 2018-2020. At FPA Sri Lanka, the main body of governance is the National Council. All operational level decisions are made by the Senior Management Team, while policy-related decisions are taken at National Council level so as to maintain credibility, accountability and transparency.
We are now even prouder for Lakshan Seneviratne, for being honoured and elected as Asst. Treasurer of National Council Sri Lanka.
By: Rochelle Palipane Gunaratne