Soma Edirisinghe is one of the foremost donors in Sri Lanka and undoubtedly one of the wealthiest persons in Sri Lanka. As common to other wealthiest she is not inherited her present luxurious life. Born in 1939 in a family of nine her father Charles Perera was a small scale planter and mother was an ordinary house wife. Watareka Pallepathuwa in Salpiti Koralaya (shire) is the home town of lady Somalatha Perera ( her maiden name) and she has gone to three scools; Government school Meegoda, Dharmapala Vidyalaya Pannipitiya and Samudradevi school in Nugegoda.
“I was a huge fan of Sri Lankan films when I was young ( I still have that liking for movies), and I used to visit then famous movie stars like Ananda Jayaratne, Leena de Silva, Senadheera Kuruppu, Herbet M Seneviratene. There were lots of fruits in our garden so I used to take them on my visits to movie stars; I still remember that Senadherra Kuruppu’s wife loved to eat ‘waraka’. “
“I was a bit mischievous character as a school child, so my father was nosy about me. And he was a spirited character and there were no chances of get involved in any love affairs. But we used to tease boys by waiving our hands being in the balcony, J.R.P.Sooriyapperuma was a prominent figure who used to waive us when drive passing our house.”
“Once few of my friends and I dressed up like gypsy women and begged money in Colombo, I don’t think girls nowadays won’t even think of doing such mischievous things.”
‘It was for my elder sister that my husband E.A.P.Edirisinghe first proposed for, as my father was admired him as an enthusiastic business man. And of course it was a once in a life time chance to get a proposal from some one of his caliber, so my father was keen to accept the proposal. But my sister was not that keen saying that he is not fair enough of for her, luckily for her their horoscopes mismatched. He has already entered in to the film industry then, so I was so disappointed about what has happened as I’m huge fan of films. Later he came to that sister’s weeding (she was married to a doctor at Kandy) where I was the bride’s mate’. My dream came true when he sent a proposal for me. My sister got married on April and I got married to Mr.Edirisinghe in same year December.”
“After marriage we settled in this house in Suleiman Terrace. Mr.Edirisinghe was also a tough, decent but righteous character like my father. He used to give precedence of becoming a self-driven person for both me and our children even though there were few house maids in our house. We used to take dinner together every day, and it was the time he used to narrate the every -day happenings both local and foreign to us, like Bandula Padmakumara doing the ‘Mul Pituwa’ in Swarnawahini.”
Mr.Edirisinghe died due to a heart attack before reaching age 50. The young widow has to face the life alone with three children. But young Soma doesn’t knew even to right a bill. Most of the family members and people predicted that she will sell all the business. It was the time Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha and Galabada Gnanissara advised the young widow to face the future challenges with courage.
‘”I will not sell any business, if you have any bring it to me” those are the words I said to people who had doubts about my ability to run the family business. I didn’t hesitate in taking decisions, as my children were all ways besides my decisions. So we started hotels, Television Network and many other businesses.”
“Time management is the secret of my present success, I get up 5.30a.m. even on weekends, I personally open all the letters addressed to me as I am the first know what it is about and personally check the phone calls received. Watching ‘Mul Pituwa’ in Swarnavahini and reading all the newspapers are the next things I used to do in the morning. I go to office after offering ‘Buddha Puja’ . We must be the guardians of our workers, there were no trade unions in our businesses because we have managed to inculcate the assurance of security in our workers mind and I absolutely does not accept backbite.
“Soma Edirisinghe started her charity work back in 1961 during the devastating flood that engulfed the North Central Province of the country. She with a group of popular personalities carried out relief operations helping those who had lost it all. Thus began an epic journey filled with numerous obstacles and hardships, yet lined with promise and hope. Sanhinda home for elders, Punarjeewa fund for heart operations, Janasarana and Suwanetha are few of the charity projects organized by her. The number of heart surgeries done under Punarjeewa project is 87 and thousands of poor are treated free of charge under Suwanetha project.
“I still love watching movies but hardly read books. Jeewaka, Nalaka and Asanga are my three sons and Deepa is my daughter, and I’m proud gran mother of twelve grandchildren. It was said to me that I only have three births left in this world, may be because I ‘m the reincarnation of the great donor Vishaka in Buddha time according to Buddhist monks. I believe in horoscope and I only give my horoscope to the special person of mine.”
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