Sugathapala twisted and turned the empty polythene packet in his hand. It was into this that the moth balls would go in to and then later in his bag along with homemade incense sticks and candles. These will then be transported carefully with the help of a walking staff to the pavements of Colombo and Seeduwa and occasionally to the homes of many who live in those areas. Sugathapala is an ambitious entrepreneur but unlike many others he lacks resources and is blind.
In the year of 1957, W.D. Sugathapala was born a normal healthy child to a family in Matara. And so he was until the age of three when he was misdiagnosed for an eye condition that left him completely blind. But his mother, who is still alive, had other plans for him when he was enrolled at the Rakwana Blind School. After leaving the school in 1976, Sugathapala wandered his way to the Seeduwa career training institute in order to learn a trade. It was here that he learned how to weave cloth and manufacture candles, incense sticks, moth balls, and cologne. And then came the early 80s when Sri Lanka’s clothing industry was booming under governmental regulation, so Sugathapala began to retail readymade items such as bed sheets and towels by foot. But alas, as fate would have it he injured his foot on a bathing trip at Seeduwa River, rendering him jobless for a period of time. After which he turned to his current trade.
Sugathapala’s main business grounds are the pavements but these areas are now banned for business by the authorities. This not only reduces his profit but makes him walk around enough to put strain on his foot. With angry bus conductors refusing him a ride to busy people snapping his walking stick as they rush past him, Sugathapala’s daily life does not get any easier by the day. He currently lodges with a friend in a rent free room but it isn’t in his heart to live on them forever.
Sugathapala’s vision is to start up his own manufacturing company that would bring employment opportunities for his fellow blind individuals. But he needs a capital of about Rs 50,000 in order to buy the raw materials and machinery required. With a demand for his current products he is certain that the company would be a success if only he could start it!!