We are delighted to report that Bhante Wimala has recently been awarded the Health Services Excellence Award from the Ministries of Health and Resettlement of the government of Sri Lanka. Bhante was chosen as the recipient of this great honor in gratitude for his extensive humanitarian efforts on behalf of the displaced persons who became refugees as the long war finally ended in Sri Lanka.
Bhante received the award with his usual humility, acknowledging the many people who assisted him in these difficult projects.
“I share this award with my sponsors and every one of you who helped me in many ways to make things happen so that we could address the health care needs of thousands of people affected by war. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all of you”. – Bhante Y. Wimala
When the war ended in Sri Lanka in May of 2009, over three hundred thousand people became refugees. As the plastic tents in the overcrowded IDP camps became filled beyond capacity, providing health services became an extremely challenging task. In spite of the best efforts by the team of government-appointed doctors, the medical needs of the refugees remained urgent.
After living daily in the midst of war for several months, and having to endure enormous difficulties, many displaced persons were weak and malnourished. They had been living in rough conditions, lacking proper facilities for quite some time. Many of them were badly in need of basic medical care. Bhante worked hard to familiarize himself with the situation and arranged for whatever medical services could quickly address the most pressing needs.
It was a difficult work environment, presenting challenges from almost every angle. Many people who worked with Bhante including drivers, military security, contractors and construction workers often got sick from exposure to the many environmental hazards.
As the Sri Lankan government had put strict regulations on activities in the area, it often took a great deal of time to prepare permits and transport essential personnel and equipment to the areas where the IDPs were housed. Every day Bhante had to travel, at times long distances, to these IDP camps with an armed military escort.
Despite the complications, Bhante acted swiftly and diligently, accepting every request for urgent health care needs from doctors, military officers or the IDPs themselves. Facing every challenge with a positive attitude and overcoming every difficulty with courage and resourcefulness, Bhante often worked day and night to accomplish the goals and ensure the greater well being of these people.