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The lure and the lore of our jungles



by Jayantha Jayewardene

Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, and even before that as Serendib and Taprobane, has different types of jungle that are of great interest to naturalists. The island has montane cloud forests, wet and dry zone forests – some of which are secondary forests – and savannahs. The coastal areas have a variety of mangroves. The extent of forest-land in the country has of late reduced to a large extent, mainly due to the demands for land from a rapidly increasing population. With three climatic zones in the island, the jungles have different types of vegetation.

Many early writers, who described these jungles or wilds, gave us an idea of what the country was like then compared with what we see today. My father, having been in government service, saw duty in many far-off places. By the time I was 12-years old we had lived in turn in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Maho, Vavuniya, Kurunegala, Puttalam and Bandarawela. This service began just after the Second World War and most of these areas were still quite wild. Our recreation was to visit these wild areas, sometimes on an evening drive or a longer trip over a weekend. Open patches in the forests, abandoned tanks and beds of streams and rivers were the favourite spots that we would visit.

My father’s escapade

One of the first jungle stories I heard was about my father. Soon after the war, in the late 1940s, he was stationed at Anuradhapura. A group of his friends, who had come from Colombo, had wanted to go on a hunting trip. My father, like me, was a reluctant hunter. He was a very keen wildlife enthusiast, and not bent on shooting an animal for sport. However, on this occasion he did not want to disappoint his friends, and therefore he went along with them.

In the form of shooting they undertook, the animals that were to be shot at were flushed out of a patch of jungle or thicket by beaters, who were employed to make a loud noise. Each member of the group was given a strategic position where the prey was likely to break cover when chased by the beaters. My father, who had with him a 12 bore shot-gun loaded with an SG cartridge, was given one such spot.

After a while, since he was not too interested in the proceedings, he lost concentration and began to look around and think of other things.

At one point he heard what he thought was a distant sound of a gun being fired. For a moment he wondered where the shot had come from. Soon one of his friends, hearing the shot, came running up to him to see what animal had been bagged. It was only then that my father realized that the gun in his hand, with the end of the barrel resting on his foot, had gone off. My father had felt no pain but found that he had shot off his second toe, which was literally hanging by its skin. The hospital at Anuradhapura dressed the wound and my father lived the rest of his life with only four toes on his right foot.

Animals at home

From the time I was very small, I was acquainted with animals at my home, which at different times was in various parts of the country. My first recollection is of a female sambhur looking through the kitchen window daily at breakfast time. This was in Polonnaruwa, where we had a house near the bund of Parakrama Samudra. She was brought to my father as a small baby and lived with us for many years.

I also have a vague recollection of a pangolin (Manic crassicaudata) being brought to my father. However, it did not last long. In captivity the diet, which consisted of ants sucked with the tongue, could not be provided easily to sustain the animal.

One night when we were at Anuradhapura, the domestic aide had heard a noise in the room where I was sleeping. She switched on the light, when she discovered a very large cobra in the corner of the room. My father had a gun but did not have a cartridge to shoot the snake. He had to send a message to a neighbour, Dr. P.C. Wickremasinghe, for a cartridge. The cobra, which waited all this time, was ultimately shot. It was an exceptionally large snake.

Giant squirrels were always favourite pets of my father. He has had as pets all three subspecies (the highland, western and common) at various times. He also had a Malabar giant squirrel brought from South India by his friend, Bunny Jonklaas.

My father has had all species of wild cats, except the leopard, at home. He bred a pair of fishing cats when he was in Kandy. However, a pair of jungle cats, that he again had in Kandy, did not breed. He brought them up from the time they were small babies. He had one female of the third species, the rusty spotted cat, which I obtained when I was on an estate in Kandapola. This is the most beautiful of Sri Lanka’s cats.

He also had a pair of jackals in his back garden in the heart of Ja-ela where he lived. He was able to breed them. In Puttalam he also had an outdoor aviary of birds, consisting of purple herons, egrets, water hens, blue coot, gargeny, whistling teal and a little grebe, which initially was kept in an aquarium. These birds necessitated a visit to the fish market each morning. Fortunately, Puttalam is on the coast, and fish was cheap and easily available.

When my father was in Kandy, he had a number of birds, some of which bred. These, except for a pair each of peafowl and jungle fowl, were exotic birds, which he imported from Singapore. In those days, it was very easy to import birds into the country.

I still travel to many of these areas and wherever I go, be it Mundel, Mullativu, Mankerni, Magama or Middeniya, I have seen many changes over the years. Some of these places do not even exist now. I have come across many legends and superstitions that have had their origins in these wild places.


I found that camping in the dry zone forests was much more interesting than in the wet and cold wilds of the hill country. In the dry zone, apart from the tolerable weather, there were more animals to observe and, for some of my friends, to shoot. The dry zone villagers were very hospitable people and that part of the country was full of legend and lore. On the other hand, there were fewer villages in the wet zone with comparatively less interesting animal species and an unpleasant climate for camping.

During all our trips -to the wilds we did not necessarily camp out. We stayed in rest-houses, schools and in any convenient building that was available.


One of the earliest writers on Ceylon, Knox (1681) strangely makes little reference to the jungles though he was captured in Trincomalee and brought to Kandy, where he was kept prisoner for ‘19 years, six months and 14 days’. Even though he was a prisoner, he had a great deal of freedom to move about within the kingdom.

Robert Knox mentions that the Sinhalese in the Kandyan kingdom used to ‘take great notice in a Morning at their going out, who first appears in their sight: and if they see a White Man, or a big-bellied Woman, they hold it fortunate: and to see any decrepit or deformed People, as unfortunate’. There were many who on hearing the sound made by a gecko at the start of a journey, will stop and wait for a little while or not undertake the journey at all.

A past practice for those who were to undertake a journey through the jungles or embark on a hunting expedition was to invoke the blessings of the spirits of the jungle. This was generally done by merely breaking a small twig and suspending it on a low branch of another tree. Another method was to suspend the broken branch or branches on a string or rope strung across two trees at a point where the traveler or hunter would enter and leave the jungle.

When I first started my trips to the jungles many years ago as a schoolboy, I noticed that our guides from the adjacent villages followed this tradition. However, in the course of time, these practices have been abandoned. In more recent times I found that some who accompanied us still carried out this practice but were secretive about it.

Purana villages

In earlier times many of the villages were in the middle of thick jungle and the inhabitants used to live in harmony with the jungles around them and its denizens. These were called purana (old) villages. Most of the inhabitants of these villages had extended families. They lived in mud huts, which were generally crude and simple in their construction. The roofs were thatched and the walls were built of wattle and daub.

There was a large open space between the jungle and the edge of the village, which was always kept cleared of trees. It was called tis bamba (thirty chains) and denoted the area which was a communal preserve. This cleared space also helped to act as a deterrent to many animals entering the village from the jungle.

The inhabitants of most of these purana villages were constantly fighting for survival. They had to depend on the rains for their cultivation. They also had to be on constant guard against a demanding jungle and its denizens, some of which were dangerous. Apart from the elephants, the villagers had to be constantly vigilant against animals such as the leopard, bear, cobra, viper, tarantula and hornet.

The villagers cleared patches of the forest and cultivated grain, such as rice, kurakkan or millet, corn, chillies and vegetables. However, it was a constant battle to tend these cultivations to fruition. They were dependent on the rains and if these failed, so did their crops. This meant that they would have nothing to eat till the next season except what they had stored after the last harvest. They also had to watch over their crops every night to prevent the depredations of animals. Elephant, deer, wild boar and hare were a constant threat, attempting to get in and eat what was growing in these chenas.

Many villagers watch over their crops at night, some alone and others with a group of farmers who too have crops to protect. This tedium takes a heavy toll of the farmer who has other chores to attend to during the day.

In some instances, for the protection of their crops, farmers set up trap guns. These guns are also set to kill deer and wild boar, either for the pot or for sale. These muzzle loading guns are set at the level of the animal targeted, generally a deer or pig and are pointed in the direction of the animal approaching along a well-used path. A string or wire is tethered to the trigger and brought in front of the gun. The gun is set to fire when the approaching animal presses on it, and thereby discharges its load, which consists of ball bearings, metal chips, old nails and the like. It kills the targeted animal, but others such as elephant and man, who are taller may get maimed.


One of the pastimes we indulged in at night when camping, especially in the dry zone, was to look for the loris. It is a nocturnal animal, which is sluggish by day but very active at night. It looks towards the bright torch and is easily detected when its large, circular eyes gleam in the light. The coastal belt of the Eastern Province is a stretch where we have come across many lorises. I also used to encounter a number of them when I was working in the Mahaweli areas in the North Central Province. Many of them, found during the jungle clearing operations of this project, were brought to me. I used to feed them on insects till I was able to despatch them to the zoo. One unfortunate loris was given a scorpion as food. It ate this with relish but was found dead the next day.

The loris has no tail but uses all its four long and thin limbs with equal ease and dexterity to move among the trees in search of its prey which consists of insects, lizards and sometimes even small birds. It moves very quietly up to its prey and in a swift movement seizes the victim by grabbing it with its hand. It then brings the prey close to its chest and eats it. There is a belief that the loris moves so slowly and quietly through the trees that if by chance a bit of bark gets loose it will carry it all the way to the bottom of the tree, leave it there and come back to resume the stalking of its prey. This manoeuvre would prevent disturbance and possible escape of the prey. There is also a belief that the loris would creep up to a sleeping peacock and snap off its head and devour the brain.

Many Sinhalese villagers used to believe that tears from the large saucer-like eyes of the Loris, when used in a concoction, would give one second sight. Some also believed it helped their sex drive. In order to obtain tears the captured loris is cruelly suspended by its legs over a fire till the smoke makes it tear. The loris is kept like this till sufficient tears have been collected.


Many of the jungle dwellers, especially Veddhas, do not refer to any animal in the jungle by name but by description. Therefore the elephant is the ‘Big one’, and the bear is the ‘Black one’ or the ‘One who throws up dust’. The latter description relates to a bear tearing away at an ant-hill in order to get at the termites therein. In the same way, pangolin is called the ‘One who rolls himself up’.

The pangolin or anteater is, like the loris, an entirely nocturnal animal. It is brown in colour but the young are pale white. One was brought to me when I was on an estate in Passara by some labourers who had killed the mother the previous night. I was advised to give it low fat milk by the local veterinary surgeon. Unfortunately it died two days later.

When the young have developed to a certain degree, they move about by clinging onto the backs of the mother. Pangolins have large scales on their body and powerful curved claws. They excavate anthills for ants and termites, which they lick up with their long, sticky tongues. They walk in a waddle but at the slightest sign of danger, curl up with the head inside the coil.

The oil extracted from the pangolin was used in early times as a medicinal potion. There is a story of a medicine man who thought he had killed a pangolin for its medicinal value. He had slung the animal round his neck and started on his journey back home. On the way the pangolin, which had not died, had revived and curled itself round the man’s neck, thereby strangling him. Later in the day the dead man and the wounded pangolin were found.

(To be continued)

(Excerpted from Jungle Journey in Sri Lanka edited by CG Uragoda)


Scarcity, prices, hoarding and queuing



By Usvatte-aratchi

We live in a scarcity economy and will do so well into 2024, past the next Presidential elections if it comes then; it may not. (The new minister may open bets.) All economies are scarcity economies; otherwise, there would be no prices. We also live in plentiful economies; look at the streets of Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, Paris or San Francisco during day or night. Scarcity is a relative term, as most terms are. A scarcity economy is one where prices rise relentlessly, where cigarettes are more expensive in the evening than they were the same morning. Scarcity economies will have two or more sets of prices: one official, others in markets in varying shades of grey until black. Scarcity economies are where everyone (producers, traders, households) hoards commodities, hoards everything that can be hoarded, at reasonable cost. Scarcity economy is one where productivity is lower than it was earlier, where both labour and capital idle. Scarcity itself may push down productivity. Observe thousands of people standing in queues to buy all kinds of things whilst producing nothing. That is labour idling. Others hang on to dear life in crowded trains arriving in office late to leave early, to get to ill lit homes where to cook each evening they repeat what their ancestors did millions of years ago to light a fire. Money is one commodity that can be hoarded at little cost, if there was no inflation. The million rupees you had in your savings account in 2019 is now worth a mere 500,000, because prices have risen. That is how a government taxes you outside the law: debase the currency. In an inflation afflicted economy, hoarding money is a fool’s game.

The smart game to play is to borrow to the limit, a kind of dishoarding (- negative hoarding) money. You borrow ten million now and five years later you pay 500 million because the value of money has fallen. US dollars are scarce in this economy. It is hoarded where it can wait until its price in Sri Lanka rises. Some politicians who seem to have been schooled in corruption to perfection have them stored elsewhere, as we have learnt from revelations in the international press. Electricity is not hoarded in large quantities because it is expensive to hoard. Petrol is not hoarded very much in households because it evaporates fast and is highly flammable. That does not prevent vehicle owners from keeping their tanks full in contrast to the earlier practice when they had kept tanks half empty (full). Consequently, drivers now hoard twice as much fuel in their tanks as earlier. Until drivers feel relaxed as to when they get the next fill, there will be queues. That should also answer the conundrum of the minister for energy who daily sent out more bowser loads out than earlier, but queues did not shorten.

As an aside, it is necessary to note that the scarcity economy, which has been brought about by stupid policies 2019-2022, and massive thieving from 2005 is partly a consequence of the fall in total output (GDP) in the economy. Workers in queues do not produce. The capital they normally use in production (e.g. motor cars, machines that they would otherwise would have worked at) lie idle. Both capital and labour idle and deny their usual contribution to GDP. Agriculture, industries, wholesale and retail trade, public administration, manufacturing and construction all of which have been adversely affected in various ways contribute more than 75% of total GDP. Maha (winter crop) 2021-22, Yala (spring crop) 2022 and Maha 2022-23 and fishing are all likely to have yielded (and yield) poor harvests. Manufacturing including construction are victims of severe shortages in energy and imported inputs. Wholesale and retail trade which depend directly on imports of commodities have been hit by the sharp drop in imports. Tourism, which is more significant in providing employment and foreign exchange, collapsed dreadfully since late 2019 and has not recovered yet. About 16 percent of our labour force work in the public sector. They have failed to contribute to GDP because they did not engage in productive work due to variegated reasons. Teachers were on strike for two months in 2021. In 2022, so far government employees have worked off and on. Wages of government employees are counted as contributions to GDP, by those that make GDP estimates. However, here is an instance where labour was paid but there was no output equal to the value of those wages. Such payments are rightly counted as transfers and do not count to GDP. For these reasons estimates of GDP for 2021 must be well below the 2020 level. The 3.6 growth in official estimates is unlikely. The likely drop in 2022 will be roughly of the same magnitude as in 2021. These declines are not dissonant with misery one sees in towns and the countryside: empty supermarket shelves, scant supplies of produce in country fares, scarce fish supplies, buses idling in parks and roads empty of traffic. There have been warnings from our paediatricians as well as from international organisations of wasting and probable higher rates of child mortality. It is this sort of sharp fall in wellbeing that engenders the desperation driving young and ambitious people to obtain passports to seek a living overseas. You can see those from mezzo-America amassed on the southern border of US. Will our young men and women end up beyond the wall of China?

Of this lowered supply of goods and services, this society is expected to pay a massive accumulated foreign debt. (Remember the reparation payments in the Versailles Treaty). In real terms it will mean that we forego a part of our lower incomes. Do not miss this reality behind veils of jargon woven by financial analysts. It is not something that we have a choice about. That is where international help may kick in. Gotabaya Rajapaksa government after much senseless dilly dallying has started negotiations with the IMF. There is nobody compelling our government to seek support from IMF. They are free go elsewhere as some who recently were in their government still urge. Examine alternatives and hit upon an arrangement not because it permits the family grows richer but because it will make life for the average person a little less unbearable.

If prices are expected to rise people will seek resources to hoard: money to buy commodities, space and facilities to hoard, security services to protect the property and much more. Rice producers cannot hoard their product because animals large as elephants and small as rodents eat them up. Because of the unequal distribution of resources to hoard, the poor cannot hoard. In a scarcity economy, the poor cannot hoard and famines usually victimise the poor, first and most. If prices are expected to fall, stocks are dishoarded to the market and prices fall faster and deeper. In either direction, the rate at which prices change and the height/depth of the rise/fall depends on the speed at which expectations of change in prices take place. A largescale rice miller claims he can control the price of rice at a level that the government cannot. His success/failure will tell us the extent of his monopoly power.

When commodities are scarce, in the absence of a sensible system of coupons to regulate the distribution, consumers will form queues. A queue is rarely a straight here, nor a dog’s tail (queue, in French, is a dog’s tail which most often crooked). Assembled consumers stagnate, make puddles and sometimes spread out like the Ganges, with Meghna, disgorges itself to the Bay of Bengal. They sometimes swirl and make whirlpools and then there is trouble, occasionally serious. There is order in a queue that people make automatically. To break that order is somehow iniquitous in the human mind. That is why breaking the order in a queue is enraging. For a queue to be disobeyed by anyone is infuriating, and for a politician to do so now in this country is dangerously injurious to his physical wellbeing.

The first cause of rising prices, hoarding and queues is the scarcity of goods and services in relation to the income and savings in the hands of the people.

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Terror figuring increasingly in Russian invasion of Ukraine



In yet another mind-numbing manifestation of the sheer savagery marking the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a shopping mall in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kremenchuk was razed to the ground recently in a Russian missile strike. Reportedly more than a hundred civilian lives were lost in the chilling attack.

If the unconscionable killing of civilians is a definition of terrorism, then the above attack is unalloyed terrorism and should be forthrightly condemned by all sections that consider themselves civilized. Will these sections condemn this most recent instance of blood-curdling barbarism by the Putin regime in the Ukrainian theatre and thereby provide proof that the collective moral conscience of the world continues to tick? Could progressive opinion be reassured on this score without further delay or prevarication?

These issues need to be addressed with the utmost urgency by the world community. May be, the UN General Assembly could meet in emergency session for the purpose and speak out loud and clear in one voice against such wanton brutality by the Putin regime which seems to be spilling the blood of Ukrainian civilians as a matter of habit. The majority of UNGA members did well to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine close on the heels of it occurring a few months back but the Putin regime seems to be continuing the civilian bloodletting in Ukraine with a degree of impunity that signals to the international community that the latter could no longer remain passive in the face of the aggravating tragedy in Ukraine.

The deafening silence, on this question, on the part of those sections the world over that very rightly condemn terror, from whichever quarter it may emanate, is itself most intriguing. There cannot be double standards on this problem. If the claiming of the lives of civilians by militant organizations fighting governments is terror, so are the Putin regime’s targeted actions in Ukraine which result in the wanton spilling of civilian blood. The international community needs to break free of its inner paralysis.

While most Western democracies are bound to decry the Russian-inspired atrocities in Ukraine, more or less unambiguously, the same does not go for the remaining democracies of the South. Increasing economic pressures, stemming from high energy and oil prices in particular, are likely to render them tongue-tied.

Such is the case with Sri Lanka, today reduced to absolute beggary. These states could be expected ‘to look the other way’, lest they be penalized on the economic front by Russia. One wonders what those quarters in Sri Lanka that have been projecting themselves as ‘progressives’ over the years have to say to the increasing atrocities against civilians in Ukraine. Aren’t these excesses instances of state terror that call for condemnation?

However, ignoring the Putin regime’s terror acts is tantamount to condoning them. Among other things, the failure on the part of the world community to condemn the Putin government’s commissioning of war crimes sends out the message that the international community is gladly accommodative of these violations of International Law. An eventual result from such international complacency could be the further aggravation of world disorder and lawlessness.

The Putin regime’s latest civilian atrocities in Ukraine are being seen by the Western media in particular as the Russian strongman’s answer to the further closing of ranks among the G7 states to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the issues growing out of it. There is a considerable amount of truth in this position but the brazen unleashing of civilian atrocities by the Russian state also points to mounting impatience on the part of the latter for more positive results from its invasion.

Right now, the invasion could be described as having reached a stalemate for Russia. Having been beaten back by the robust and spirited Ukrainian resistance in Kyiv, the Russian forces are directing their fire power at present on Eastern Ukraine. Their intentions have narrowed down to carving out the Donbas region from the rest of Ukraine; the aim being to establish the region as a Russian sphere of influence and buffer state against perceived NATO encirclement.

On the other hand, having failed to the break the back thus far of the Ukraine resistance the Putin regime seems to be intent on demoralizing the resistance by targeting Ukraine civilians and their cities. Right now, most of Eastern Ukraine has been reduced to rubble. The regime’s broad strategy seems to be to capture the region by bombing it out. This strategy was tried out by Western imperialist powers, such as the US and France, in South East Asia some decades back, quite unsuccessfully.

However, by targeting civilians the Putin regime seems to be also banking on the US and its allies committing what could come to be seen as indiscretions, such as, getting more fully militarily and physically involved in the conflict.

To be sure, Russia’s rulers know quite well that it cannot afford to get into a full-blown armed conflict with the West and it also knows that the West would doing its uttermost to avoid an international armed confrontation of this kind that could lead to a Third World War. Both sides could be banked on to be cautious about creating concrete conditions that could lead to another Europe-wide armed conflict, considering its wide-ranging dire consequences.

However, by grossly violating the norms and laws of war in Ukraine Russia could tempt the West into putting more and more of its financial and material resources into strengthening the military capability of the Ukraine resistance and thereby weaken its economies through excessive military expenditure.

That is, the Western military-industrial complex would be further bolstered at the expense of the relevant civilian publics, who would be deprived of much needed welfare expenditure. This is a prospect no Western government could afford to countenance at the present juncture when the West too is beginning to weaken in economic terms. Discontented publics, growing out of shrinking welfare budgets, could only aggravate the worries of Western governments.

Accordingly, Putin’s game plan could very well be to subject the West to a ‘slow death’ through his merciless onslaught on the Ukraine. At the time of writing US President Joe Biden is emphatic about the need for united and firm ‘Transatlantic’ security in the face of the Russian invasion but it is open to question whether Western military muscle could be consistently bolstered amid rising, wide-ranging economic pressures.

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At 80, now serving humanity



Thaku Chugani! Does this name ring a bell! It should, for those who are familiar with the local music scene, decades ago.

Thaku, in fact, was involved with the original group X-Periments, as a vocalist.

No, he is not making a comeback to the music scene!

At 80, when Engelbert and Tom Jones are still active, catering to their fans, Thaku is doing it differently. He is now serving humanity.

Says Thaku: “During my tenure as Lion District Governor 2006/2007, Dr Mosun Faderin and I visited the poor of the poorest blind school in Ijebu Ode Ogun state, in Nigeria.

“During our visit, a small boy touched me and called me a white man. I was astonished! How could a blind boy know the colour of my skin? I was then informed that he is cornea blind and his vision could be restored if a cornea could be sourced for him. This was the first time in my life that I heard of a cornea transplant. “

And that incident was the beginning of Thaku’s humanity service – the search to source for corneas to restore the vision of the cornea blind.

It was in 2007, when Dr Mosun and Thaku requested Past International President Lion Rohit Mehta, who was the Chief Guest at MD 404 Nigeria Lions convention, at Illorin, in Nigeria, to assist them in sourcing for corneas as Nigeria was facing a great challenge in getting any eye donation, even though there was an established eye bank.

“We did explain our problems and reasons of not being able to harvest corneas and Lion Rohit Metha promised to look into our plea and assured us that he will try his utmost best to assist in sourcing for corneas.”

Nigeria, at that period of time, had a wait list of over 70 cornea blind children and young adults.

“As assured by PIP Lion Rohit Mehta, we got an email from Gautam Mazumdar, and Dr. Dilip Shah, of Ahmedabad, in India, inviting us for World Blind Day

“Our trip was very fruitful as it was World Blind Day and we had to speak on the blind in Nigeria.”

“We were invited by Gautam Mazumdar to visit his eye bank and he explained the whole process of eye banking.

“We requested for corneas and also informed him about our difficulties in harvesting corneas.

“After a long deliberation, he finally agreed to give us six corneas. It was a historical moment as we were going to restore vision of six cornea blind children. To me, it was a great experience as I was privileged to witness cornea transplant in my life and what a moment it was for these children, when their vision was restored.

“Thus began my journey of sight restoration of the cornea blind, and today I have sourced over 1000 corneas and restored vision of the cornea blind in Nigeria, Kenya and India till date.

“Also, I need to mention that this includes corneas to the armed forces, and their family, all over India.

“On the 12th, August, 2018, the Eye Bank, I work with, had Launched Pre-Cut Corneas, which means with one pair of eyes, donated, four Cornea Blind persons sight will be restored.”

Thaku Chugani, who is based in India, says he is now able to get corneas regularly, but, initially, had to carry them personally – facing huge costs as well as international travel difficulties, etc.

However, he says he is so happy that his humanitarian mission has been a huge success.

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