Aug 28 2014. view 3597
A Remarkable Individual – Anoka Abeyrathne
Completing her primary and secondary education right throughout at Bishop's College Colombo, Anoka hails from a well educated family where her mom also a Bishopian, is a biologist, her father who does sustainability and renewable energy and a younger brother who is also into sustainable construction.
Her favourite subject in school was science and did biology for her advanced level examination in order to be a veterinarian since she adored animals but decided to do law, so that she has the ability to change things. Anoka has a musical side to her as well. She had started playing the piano at the age of 5 and has been a part of the western band at school where she had played the trumpet and drums and is also competent with the guitar. She is also an athlete, a swimmer and a tennis player. A graduate from The University of London with a LLB she is currently reading for her masters in Development from the University of Colombo. She studies economics and statistics and she also uses data to use in order to make proper strategic plans for Sri Lanka.
Focusing on Anoka’s work, she’s doing an eco social enterprise called “Growing Money” which is under an organization called Sustain Solutions where they are involved in replanting mangroves and they give the stakeholder-ship to communities so that they can generate a source of income through making handicrafts, organic farming, making juices and also promote tourism so that they can get incentives out of it. They also work a lot with Youth Policy, where they do sustainable development and also conduct consultations and dialogues with key stakeholders who have the power to influence. She also works alongside the Commonwealth as well as the United Nations.
Just 23 years of age, being a lawyer was not on her bucket list. She has the drive in her to do more in life and every time she sees something, which needs to be addressed or changed, she wants to do something about it and has a list of personal ambitions yet to be attained. Anoka was awarded the Commonwealth Youth Award 2012/2013 for excellence in Development.
Getting perceptions across was one of the main challenges, which she faced as a youngster since people have different perceptions. Another challenge, which she faced, was the attitude of people who think that being a female, that one has to get married and stay at home but no, people shouldn’t think that way and Anoka really wants to make a difference in the society. In the long run, she wants to be an environmental lawyer and contribute to policy changes especially in sustainability.
Wangari Mathai, the creator of the Green Belt Movement and also one of the greatest environmentalists that the world has ever known is one of many people to have influenced Anoka. Other prominent people include, Sri Lanka’s first female diplomat, Manel Abeysekera.
Anoka says “Everybody who I come across inspires me in some way. Because everyone has the passion to do something”.
Text by Migara Wijesinghe