The Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Cuba, Tamara Kunanayakam, participated on Saturday, 11th December, in A Day of Voluntary Work to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, by joining in the renovation of the Kindergarten Amiguitos de Palestina (Little friends of Palestine) in the Havana suburb of Alamar.
In an effort, characterised by an extraordinary spirit of teamwork and unity for a common cause, the Ambassador of Venezuela, Ronald Blanco La Cruz, the Ambassador of Ecuador, Edgar Poncé, the Ambassador of the State of Palestine, Akram Mohammad Rashid Samhan, and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam, were joined by more than a hundred diplomats and students from Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Palestine.
“There is urgent need for a new kind of diplomacy based on principles of solidarity, cooperation, reciprocity and respect, in which words must be translated into concrete action and exemplary behaviour,” declared Ambassador Kunanayakam. “The global crisis is not solely an economic and financial one. We are facing a profound crisis in human values and have much to learn from the innovative and solidary project that diplomats of member States of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) are engaged in. Diplomats must set the example! Rhetoric must be replaced by concrete action and sincerity if lasting ties of friendship and solidarity are to be secured for the mutual benefit and progress of our peoples.”
Sri Lanka, with its own history of commitment and practice to voluntary work, Shramadana, fully identifies with these noble principles. In Cuba, Ernesto Che Guevara was the first to launch the principle of voluntary work, which continues to inspire this generous and altruistic action, without expecting anything in return, in a country that has faced, and continues to face, an unjust blockade for over 50 years.
In his address to the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September this year, Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa unequivocally expressed his solidarity with Cuba and Palestine.
This is not the first time that Ambassador Kunanayakam has participated in the ALBA initiative to contribute, through voluntary work, toward the renovation of primary and secondary schools in the Cuban capital. In October, she participated in the renovation of an Elementary School and in November in the renovation of a school for handicapped children, dedicated to Argentina, on which occasion she collaborated with the Ambassador of Argentina to Cuba, Juliana Isabel Marino.
In a letter of friendship addressed to Ambassador Kunanayakam, Venezuela’s Ambassador Ronald Blanco expressed his gratitude to his “Esteemed Compatriot” and her team: “when the result from that effort is the restoration of a space for the highest prized of the human race, as are children and youth, then the happiness of the duty accomplished multiplies and dearly comforts us.”
To further reinforce the bonds of friendship between Sri Lanka, Cuba, Argentina, and ALBA member States,* Ambassador Kunanayakam announced a day of voluntary work in February next year to be dedicated to renovating a facility in Havana to accommodate the first pharmacy for natural medicine, to be provided free of charge, to children in the final stages of cancer for which allopathy has no response. The initiative is part of the Embassy programme to promote traditional medicine, particularly Ayurveda, in Cuba and the region.
* Member Status: Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, d'Antigua & Barbuda. Honduras was withdrawn from ALBA following the 2009 coup d’état. Observer States: Iran, Russia, Uruguay, Haiti, Surinam, & Guyana)
Embassy of Sri Lanka
14th December 2010