Senarath Mahinda Werahera
Posted: 3 March 2014
Once in a lifetime, a person has an opportunity to create change, and for themselves to be changed in the process. In his mind, Seranath Mahinda Werahara received such an opportunity through the AusAID funded Australia Awards for Development.
Australia Awards (previously AusAID) has been providing Australian scholarships to Sri Lanka and other countries in South Asia for more than 50 years. These scholarships have supported development and progress by focusing on human resource development and they have respected Sri Lankans capacity to decide what’s best for them.
Serenath found AusAID’s strategy to be not only a far-sighted and a planned approach to development, but also one which encouraged commitment, communication and collaborative thinking. The program enforced an implement and use what you learn mindset rather than simply showcasing qualifications without delivering real outcomes. For him, the scholarship was not a vehicle to escape Sri Lanka as is the case with many other scholarship programs, but a mechanism to return and contribute to Sri Lanka’s growth.
Serenath is an Assistant Director at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, stationed at Battaramulla. He has a Master’s degree in Environment and Resource Economics from the Australian National University, which he obtained in 2008-2009 as an Australian Development Scholar. “Applying for this Award was a crucial life decision for me” he said, “and the experience in Australia had a profound impact on my life”.
Since his return to Sri Lanka, Serenath has lived his dream to implement a development action plan. He helped prepare the first Box Letter on the Green Economy in the Central Bank Report (2009), an experience that enabled him to engage further in advocacy and to publish some of his proposals.
Serenath’s passion for the environment saw him invited to join the Sri Lankan team to submit a proposal for the evaluation of ecosystems which would help Sri Lanka meet International Environmental Conventions.
His goal is to continue in his chosen field and contribute to what he calls “the splendid development of Sri Lanka”. He continues, “I hope others will follow me because my experience in Australia provided me with the opportunity to bring about real change and do great things for this country”.