Sri Lankan Lakmini Sewwandi re-elected to Newham Council in London
Sri Lankan Lakmini Sewwandi Dissanayake Shah has been re-elected a councillor for the Newham Council in London at the recently concluded election.
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of the council, has handpicked Lakmini to his cabinet and given her the responsibility of Children’s Safeguarding and Community Lead for East Ham borough.
She was born in Hambantota in 1966 and completed her higher studies in Ladies College, Colombo. She pursued higher education at the Tashkent State University and Moscow State University in Russia before moving to University of East London in the UK.
"I had the opportunity of entering politics as a council candidate in 2006 after successfully running British Labour Party politician Stephen Timms’ election campaign in 2005", she recalled.
"I ventured into politics because it gave me the power to make a difference in peoples’ lives in a positive way, she told Sunday Island.
"Politics is all about healthcare, education, housing, public realm, employment and social care for the residents. It is a selfless duty and understanding that you are elected by the people with great hope that you will be their public servant. At no point is politics about your own self", Lakmini stressed.
"If a politician has lived up to the electors’ expectations, he or she can be in power for a considerable period of time. I am guided by the Nolan Principles for a politician", she noted.
"I have become a voice for women in East Ham, women who are first-generation in Britain and very new to the country and the local women. I want to help women cross many barriers they face and guide them into employment, higher education and resolve housing issues. I can feel another woman’s pain", Lakmini said.
"I have given out my personal phone number and it is on the public domain. Any resident can have my phone number. In case I miss a call from anyone. I will make sure that I call them back before 9 pm", she continued.
She said she has no plans to do politics in Sri Lanka, but would love to work for the Sri Lankan citizens who do not have the luxuries that people enjoy in Britain. ‘My ambition is to work with women’s rights groups in the United Nations"
Lakmini is married to Ash Shah and they have three children, Dinakshi, Sachin and Roshan. Dinakshi is in medical college and Sachin is doing his O/L. Roshan is still 12 years old.
"I have everything a human being needs to have. The only thing I want is for my three children to be happy in life and for them to serve the cause of humanity. I do not have a desire to have a large bank balance nor extreme luxuries in life. I would be very grateful to have a healthy life. I think people who know me, know that I lead a very simple life. The more you chase materialistic luxuries only causes stress and unhappiness in life", she pointed out.
She said that her biggest regret in her life is living away from her parents. "They are in Sri Lanka. I left home when I was 18. They taught me the greatest values in life. "Life is about an unselfish journey they always taught. Yet again, I am miles away from them. Even though I speak to them daily over the phone, it is the guilt that creeps in that I am physically not there with them".