Last December, Sujitha Miranda took over as Country Manager for Sri Lanka as Saradha Somawatte had decided to resign from his position. As former Community Hero of Learning Center Bandarawela, Sujitha knows BOOKBRIDGE from the inside and is ready to take the challenge. by Sujitha Miranda
October and November 2018 appeared as an unstable position for BOOKBRIDGE Sri Lanka. While one learning center was taken over by a new community hero, another center struggled to live without his Community Hero due to him participating in higher studies. As this posed many challenges to our country organization, Country Manager Saradha understood that he would have to invest more time in his role. He came to the conclusion that he couldn´t spend additional time on these issues due to other commitments. This made him to take a decision to hand over his position to someone else.
As the first Community Hero in Sri Lanka with strong relationships with the BOOKBRIDGE team and the bridgebuilder family, I felt that it was my duty to show my gratitude to BOOKBRIDGE by taking this challenge. To take this decision was not difficult for me since my learning center in Bandarawela was already running well and my assistant Satheesh had grown up rapidly during the past 3 years and was ready to take over the entire tasks from me (read Satheesh’s article on this).
Apart from this, I had a strong believe that working with my good friend Sampath, Community Hero in Kekirawa, to whom strong ties connect me since various programs and tours we attended together, and also with the new Community Heroes Kishoth and Anuradha who are already having a good relationship with me would make my work easy. This gave me the trust that we all together as a team could bring BOOKBRIDGE Sri Lanka to a high standard and make the bridgebuilders proud.
With this trust, today I am standing as a Country Manager for Sri Lanka.
My journey with BOOKBRIDGE
When I joined BOOKBRIDGE in November 2016, I didn’t have much idea of entrepreneurship or social business. During GMP+3 program leading to the opening of my learning center, the team, local coach Eranda Ginige and European coach Emilie introduced me to these concepts and started to mould me.
After commencing my learning center, Monika (program manager at BOOKBRIDGE) was my closest contact person who had regular calls with me to make me understand the other learning centers. She always appreciated my work and encouraged me to grow further. During my first visit to Cambodia, Sokhan showed me some of the Cambodian learning centers and explained how they work. My team members Viola and Judith continued to support me by being mentors for nearly 2 years. I could discuss anything with them to make decisions.
During my visit to BridgeBuilder Summit 2016, I had the opportunity to have a long talk with Carsten and he inspired me a lot. I completely understood what is BOOKBRIDGE and its vision, mission and values. That was the day I felt proud for joining the BOOKBRIDGE family. I was inspired to work like Carsten and many bridgebuilders I met at the summit.
Also, I had some fruitful discussions with Rasheed, president of BOOKBRIDGE Foundation board. He always encourages me to do my best. He has a huge trust on me.
Ruth, my dear friend and BOOKBRIDGE team member, has always supported me with design and IT solutions.
I cannot forget how close Amar and Tunga from BOOKBRIDGE Mongolia are to me. They were always ready to support me with any questions regarding learning center operations. They were my closest access for any emergency clarifications.
I learnt a lot from my best friend Uuganaa, one of the pioneers for BOOKBRIDGE and Community Hero at the first BOOKBRIDGE learning centers in Mongolia. She is my role-model who taught me to work without getting tired.
Moreover, many exchange programs and All-Staff Trainings in Cambodia and Mongolia moulded me. Every Community Hero inspired me with their various talents. I was able to introduce many new things at my learning center with the knowledge I got from them. I was able to mould Satheesh as the way I was moulded by others.
One of my biggest successes is the improvement and growth of Satheesh, my assistant. During his visit to the Cambodian All-Staff Training, I got a message from Monika with a picture of his workshop saying “Satheesh is great. He improved a lot”. I took this as the best comment since Monika knows how he was at the beginning. I felt proud and this alarmed me that he is ready to run his own learning center.
I grew a lot with BOOKBRIDGE. When I had the MasterClass team in Bandarawela, Marisol, Benjamin and Arlette modified me more with the Entrepreneurship course. They provided me a big space to understand entrepreneurship better. This masterclass also has a big influence on my present change. They became my good friends and well-wishers.
As a conclusion, I would like to thank the entire BOOKBRIDGE team, the Foundation Board, my GMP+3 team, Masterclass team, my colleague Community Heroes and all bridgebuilders for shaping me to come to the present position.
My goals for this year
2019 is going to be a great year for me to work with my friends Sampath, Kishoth and Anu in Sri Lanka to make the learning centers shine. All Community Heroes of Sri Lankan learning centers are well-talented with great ideas. We are together planning to introduce a new trend of entrepreneurship courses to Sri Lanka. With the NVQ certification, Bandarawela and Kekirawa learning centers can introduce high-quality courses, joining hands with VTA. The GMP+5 program is in its process and GMP+6 is yet to be commenced. Working with these teams, I have to either strengthen the present learning centers or initiate new and quality centers. All our centers are working on “going beyond English and IT”. As a result, I would like to bring BOOKBRIDGE Sri Lanka learning centers to sets example to other centers.
Personal gratitude to Saradha
When I was working with Saradha, I felt much comfortable. He is a very friendly person who is very open for discussions on any issues. He always had some great discussions on decision makings. He is one of the most flexible persons I have worked with. I would like to thank him with my whole heart for being a good leader to us and for all the support he rendered to us. I wish him all success in all his future steps.