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Appreciation: Ms Donna M. Gammanpila - Leading Philanthropist & Buddhist Pioneer in England (1930-2016)
By Arjuna Chaminda Bandara Ranatunga
 
It 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 Buddhist Religion.

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 her life.

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 wish.

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 premises.

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 temples.

Every year she visited Sri Lanka and cared greatly for her extended family (her brothers and sisters and their families).

She had established a nursing home for the elderly there, accommodating thirty people on her own land in Kalutara. It is being run by her relatives.

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 for help.

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 sorely missed.

"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 hearts.

 

SESATHA - The Sri Lankan Event Portal in UK