Appreciation: Ms Donna M. Gammanpila -
Leading Philanthropist & Buddhist Pioneer in
By Arjuna Chaminda Bandara Ranatunga
is with great sorrow that I write a
few words about the work done by the
very Noble Sri Lankan Lady Ms D. M.
Gamanpila, who throughout her life
lived up to the great traditions of
Buddhist Laywomen such as Visaka,
and who has done a great service to
the Sri Lankan Community and to the
She came to England at the age of 19
and became trained as a Midwife,
working for the NHS at North
Manchester General Hospital, and
later as a Community Midwife in
Lancashire, until her retirement
forty years later. She was a
conscientious worker, her work was
From her childhood she always had a
strong affinity for the Buddha, the
Dhamma, and the Sangha, and never
married. She always said that she
would leave her detached home and
garden (of 80 perches) to the Buddha
Sasana. She has given it from her
heart and it was a very longstanding
Since her retirement twenty years
ago she has devoted most of her time
to community work and religious
activities, and has been
instrumental in setting up the first
Sri Lankan Buddhist Vihara in
Manchester, by offering her very own
Over the years she has invited
several prominent monks to conduct
Buddhist programmes for the local
English & Sri Lankan Buddhist
Communities which were always
attended with great faith, piety &
gratitude. She was well loved &
respected for her compassion,
generous nature, and wisdom.
She has set up a
large shrine room with a sapling of the
Ananda Bodhi tree, and some of the saplings
of this tree have been donated to various
Every year she visited Sri Lanka and cared
greatly for her extended family (her
brothers and sisters and their families).
established a nursing home for the elderly
there, accommodating thirty people on her
own land in Kalutara. It is being run by her
She also has donated generously to a Tsunami
School in the South of the island, and a
classroom in the Buddha Gaya temple Dhamma
School in India.
Throughout her life she has helped many a
Sri Lankan to start a livelihood, and even
post-graduate studies, in the U.K. Many were
offered virtually free accommodation until
they were able to establish a foothold here.
She had good
friends of all backgrounds, religions, and
races. Her doors were open all hours to
anyone of any community who were desperate
Her kindness was extended not only to
humans, but to animals too. Many a homeless
stray dog or cat was brought home, and
looked after well.
Every day she would feed the birds &
destitute animals, and would derive great
happiness from it.
Her lifelong dream had been to offer her
home to the Buddha Sasana, and this wish has
been fulfilled at the time of her passing.
Although she was a fairly wealthy lady, she
did not spend it on herself or on luxuries,
but always put others before herself.
She was a true philanthropist, who worked
silently and modestly; someone very rare.
She was like a mother and a grandmother
to many, was greatly loved, and will be
"Sabba Danam Dhamma Danam Jinati". 'Of all
gifts, the gift of Dhamma is the best'.
May she attain the Bliss of Everlasting
Nibbana, and may her memory live on in our