We have sponsored the construction of the road to and the inner pathways at Dunhinna Rural Hospital. Traveling approximately 10KM on winding mountain roads from Kandy, the main city in the hill country of Sri Lanka, you can reach the village of Dunhinna in 30 minutes. The village is safely hidden among the beautiful green mountains. The people of this peaceful village make a living mainly by selling spices and coffee and black pepper that they grow. The majority of the people are poor in Dunhinna.
At the request of one of my sisters, I visited the hospital and met the only medical doctor, Dr. Nilanthi Herath. Young and enthusiastic, the doctor took me around and explained to me the hardships she faces due to a lack of equipment and the condition of the old buildings. One of the major problems was not having paved paths to move the patients from building to building and the bad condition of the road. She explained, ” Whenever it rains the ground gets muddy and slippery. I have fallen several times trying to take the patients from the clinic to the wards. We always have problems carrying seriously ill patients because we can’t push them in a wheelchair or stretcher”.
After listening to the doctor and seeing the condition of the road and internal pathways, it was obvious what the most urgent need of this hospital was. This old, small hospital serves the people of ten surrounding villages. Even the government seems to neglect such a rural hospital and it is clear that this hospital is not on their priority list. At the end of the visit, Dr. Nilanthi asked me to help to repair the road and put new pavements and inner pathways in the hospital. It was so easy to say, “yes, I will do it” to her request.
I appointed one of my assistant monks to take up the responsibility of construction and advised my sister to supervise the work. We also decided to help to complete the shrine room of the hospital they had started but could not complete due to lack of funds. With the participation of the community and full co-operation of the doctor, we were able to finish the work in one month.
I arrived in Sri Lanka on the 22nd of February 06. They had scheduled a dedication ceremony on the 23rd. When I arrived at the Dunhinna rural hospital, to my surprise they had turned the event into a big celebration. There were drummers and dancers and young school children lined up on both sides of the road dressed in white holding trays of flowers. The representatives from the ministry of health and hundreds of people from surrounding villages and about twenty-five Buddhist monks had arrived.
After the ribbon cutting and dedication of the shrine room and the road, there were several speeches of gratitude from the villages and the doctor. They had prepared a big feast for everybody. When I asked why they made it such an important event they said, ” What you have done might look like a small thing to you. But to us it is worth celebrating and it is a great thing and we are very grateful to you”. At the end of the ceremony we also donated mosquito nets for all the beds in the hospital
Health is the greatest wealth we have in life. A hospital is a place where we regain our health when we get sick. Improving or building health facilities is indeed a noble and wholesome Karma. Taking care of the sick is a noble thing because when we get sick we suffer a lot and we also often become helpless. Good-hearted people naturally feel the pain of others and feel compassion for them. Let us continue to understand the suffering of others and express our compassion for those who are sick and suffering through generous and kindhearted deeds.