Tribute to Amal Sanderatne

2 August 2023 04:04 am – 2      – 639

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Amal was a very good man, an extraordinarily good man. He gave his best and tried his hardest at everything including improving his physical and mental health


Amal, at different times has been my boss, fellow board member, mentor and most recently, friend. He is one of the handful of people who I can say, has had a significant impact on my life. Although I worked for him for a mere 3 months, his genuine appreciation and value for my passion and interest in education has led me to be where I am today, engaging in the most meaningful and rewarding work I’ve ever done, with the most humble and genuinely committed people I have ever met, thanks to Amal’s introduction to his closest friends.  

As an intern at Frontier, the company Amal founded and headed, I knew from the start it was ahead of its times and very different. He often spoke with much pride that he took paternity leave for about 8 months and stepped back from his business sharing how time with his newborn son and supporting his wife was more important than making money and growing his business. I know of no one who has spoken with such love and joy about being a father. His beloved wife Ayoma was always beside him supporting him and was very much a part of the company. I admired how Amal respected her as an equal in his words and actions and I looked at both of them in admiration for how they work so well as a team.
For a few years Amal was a fellow member of the advisory board of Learn for Life Lanka and his intellectual curiosity, passion, genuine and sincere commitment to making a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged were exemplary. I looked forward to the meetings we had and the frequent chats we had on Whatsapp exchanging ideas and debating issues and solutions at length. We would often disagree and he would frequently challenge my thinking, but he was never disrespectful and was ever willing to learn even from the most junior member of the team. The focus was always on service and learning and not a trace of ego, arrogance or pride in sight.
On my last visit to Sri Lanka in March, although he was visibly struggling with his mental health, I was amazed at the level of empathy and compassion he showed for what I shared. I’ll never forget how he responded with so much care, concern and compassion in his facial expressions and words. Despite the fact that he and Ayoma were in the midst of a very challenging time, I left their home feeling good about myself because that’s the kind of couple they were and that’s how they made me feel, valued and cared for. I was so moved by Amal’s empathetic response especially considering his ill health that I came home and wrote a reflection about my conversation with him and Ayoma.
Over the last few years, I’ve reached out to Amal on numerous occasions on various ideas I’ve had from business opportunities to educational pursuits and he unreservedly supported me on each one. In the last few months I was closer to him on a more personal level, and exchanged Whatsapp messages. In particular, I will remember how a particular incident related to his healing journey that deepened my own faith.
Amal recently shared how he loved to look up at the sky and admire the sunrise and sunsets, and since then, I have been doing it myself. Inspired by this, I created a food art post at the beginning of July titled “the earth, sky and sea” dedicated to him.
The day after the horrible news of his passing, when I stepped out of the house and saw grey skies, I told Amal in my heart, see Amal the skies are crying just like all of us because you are gone, but as I drove a few minutes away from home in the otherwise grey and moody skies, there was one patch of sky with sunshine streaming through white clouds and what I can describe as a vision of sublime glory. I felt then, for all the times I looked up at the sky thinking of Amal and praying for his healing, this was a message to me that Amal is now with his Creator at peace and in glory. Although I am sad, I felt I should be at peace knowing Amal is with his Creator and at peace, free from pain and suffering.
Mental illness is mysterious and incomprehensible, but it is not a weakness, neither is it a failure nor a reason to be ashamed of. Amal was a very good man, an extraordinarily good man. He gave his best and tried his hardest at everything including improving his physical and mental health. We all rejoiced at the great progress he was making towards healing but on that unfortunate day his earthly suffering ended unexpectedly and tragically and he succumbed to his illness leaving us all shattered and devastated.
Good bye dear Amal. I so wish your complete healing was on earth and I could have ice cream with you in August like I told you and Ayoma I would.
I will always be grateful to you for recognizing my passion and for introducing me to your closest friends which has led me to having a life transforming experience. Your departure has left a hole in my heart and a profound sense of sadness that you are no more with us. I am so sad for Ayoma and Eran and your parents who you loved dearly and who love you so much. We will honour your memory and work relentlessly to improve the mental health of the populations we serve and be grateful for your role in starting the work of Learn for Life Lanka! May your soul rest in eternal peace safely in the arms of Jesus. You are greatly missed and deeply loved!


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