International Volunteer Day Features Lakshan Madurasinghe
In commemoration of International Volunteer Day (December 5), Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka (HFHSL) highlights the story of its current Board Chairman and President – Lakshan Madurasinghe.
Lakshan’s unique journey, started with him volunteering at a Habitat Build event, and thereafter led to over a decade-long partnership with HFHSL. That single experience fueled a deep love for volunteering within him, that he has since then shared with countless colleagues, friends, donors and communities.
Today, a key member of HFHSL’s leadership team, Lakshan not only continues to volunteer whilst encouraging hundreds of others to do so as well, he has applied his corporate, PR and management expertise to shape the vision and mission of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka, and aid its ongoing commitment to providing shelter and homes to hundreds of families in need.
Since Habitat for Humanity was launched in Sri Lanka 23 years ago, the organization has enabled 24,600 families to achieve strength, stability and self-reliance and rebuild better lives. A proper home is the strong foundation on which families and communities thrive. Better, affordable living conditions lead to improved health and stronger childhood development, well-being of children and give families the ability and financial flexibility to make forward-looking choices.
Recognizing that donors may not always understand the immense value of building homes, or even consider building a house to be a feasible or practical form of charity, Lakshan said: “A typical Habitat home will be a 550 sq.ft lockable home with two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a toilet, and constructing a home of this nature would generally cost approximately Rs. 1 million. Having worked in Sri Lanka for over 23 years, we witness tangible evidence that strong and stable homes help build strong and stable communities”.
Lakshan’s journey started in 2005, while he was serving as the head of Public Affairs and Communication for Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Ltd. “As part of my responsibilities, I also led the company’s strategic CSR efforts and community engagement initiatives. Following the aftermath of the Tsunami, we partnered with Habitat for Humanity in 2005 to rebuild homes in Galle. Our company volunteers were able to actively engage with homeowners and help them build their new homes and regain a sense of normalcy in their lives in the aftermath of the disaster. I was deeply moved by the warmth, hospitality and kindness that was extended to us by those homeowners. They had lost everything, and were so grateful and moved that we had come all the way, to help them rebuild their lives.”
After volunteering and engaging in HFHSL’s fundraising activities for many years, Lakshan was invited to serve on the National Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka in 2009. In 2012, he was selected as the Vice-President of the Board and in 2015 he was appointed as the President and Chairman of the National Board of Directors.
His decade long journey with Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka has made him a champion of volunteering, passionate about expanding HFHSL’s dynamic volunteer engagement initiatives and programmes, whilst increasing awareness about the manifold benefits of volunteering.
Each year, on International Volunteer Day, Habitat for Humanity launches the Habitat Young Leaders Build (HYLB) which is an Asia-Pacific initiative that engages young people, and encourages them to volunteer and advocate for decent housing.
Another key segment that HFHSL will be working on moving forward is to actively engage the Sri Lankan Diaspora who may be keen to give back to people in need in their home country, by contributing funds for housing projects or by volunteering with Habitat.