Literary lovers in Lanka

Last month, Sri Lanka played host to some of the world’s finest writers at the Fairway Galle Literary Festival.

Sri Lankan authors included Ashok Ferry, Shehan Karunatilake, Nayomi Munaweera, Anuk Arudpragasam, and Sunila Gallapatti. The international roster contained the talents of Phillippa Gregory, renowned historical fiction writer and author of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, the multi-award winning Colm Toibin, author of ‘Brooklyn’ and Dame Margaret Drabble.

Over four days these brilliant literary minds treated and entertained book-lovers in a series of talks, workshops and presentations. For the first time the festival also included a whole day devoted to Sinhala language authors and their work. The festival also conducts an outreach programme, this year taking place in two schools in Galle and two in Jaffna, involving 600 children. The North South University Collaboration is another important initiative, bringing together university students and teachers from across the country and giving them a chance to interact, with a particular focus on building bridges and reconciliation.

Although the title heralds literary talent, the FLGF is a celebration of all cultural pursuits, and included events on architecture, poetry, cookery, journalism, film and theatre. For this, there can be no better location than the historic port town of Galle, the picturesque and artisanal haven, on Sri Lanka’s South coast.


The beautiful lighthouse in Galle

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2017 For Gecko Sri Lanka

Happy 2017 everyone!

We’re a month into the new year, well on your way to that new year’s resolution goal of “New Year, New Me”. Well Gecko itself has a new(ish) team leading the way for 2017, so I thought I’d take the chance to introduce us and what we have planned for the new year.


Yasath Samarage
The new face of Gecko Sri Lanka, Yas is taking the reins as our president this year. One of our founding members, Yas has been a key player for us for the last 13 years! But it’s not all work with Yas, any chance he gets he’ll be dropping movie quotes like no tomorrow… even if a lot of the time we struggle to place them.13322127_10153922274113801_6764710462743254997_n-copy

Vice Presidents
Denesh & Ashan
Introducing the duo who are taking the role of joint Vice President. You’ve come to know Deno as the lovable host of the Gecko Pub Quiz, with his unique mash up of comedy and charisma.

Backed up by your favourite geek Ash (aka me), whose moustache ends up all over Instagram and Facebook every November. We’ll be Yas’s right (and left) hands these next 2 years… though… you’ll have to make do with just Deno during Comicon… #GeekLife.


Second of the Sri’ siblings, Dharsh is stepping in as secretary. With an infectious smile that keeps us all cheerful, Dharsh is our number one for lifting our spirits. Though don’t let that fool you, as the previous 1st lady of Gecko, she’s a seasoned pro at keeping us in order.


New to the committee, and to the charity itself, Dilani is taking the role of Treasurer. With a captivating and bubbly personality, Dilani is a welcome addition to the team. We’re looking forward to having her fresh perspective and ideas to help take Gecko into 2017.

Special Advisory
Last but not least, Semini our special advisory (also known as Spad). To be honest we don’t really know what this position will entail, as we just made it up for her, but we just couldn’t go another 2 years without Sem having a role within the committee.

Also with another year, comes another set of events!!

The Gecko Pub Quiz
Our ongoing event held at The Railway Tavern in London Liverpool Street. A night of comedy, pub food, and Deno’s personal flair as our returning host. We’ll be posting information on this shortly, but for now please keep March 12th (Sunday 5pm-8.30pm) free for what promises to be an excellent night! Also there’s bigger and better prizes to be won, so bring your A game!

The Gecko Sixes
Our annual cricket tournament full of sun, fun, and of course… MUTTON ROLLS (other snacks available). Once again happening over the summer period, look out for more info on this in the future.

And of course, yet again I’m raising money for testicular & prostate cancer under Gecko’s name this coming November. Enjoy 1 month of me desperately struggling to grow a moustache in the name of men’s health!

So once again, Happy 2017, we hope to see you at our events, and hope you have a great year!!

Written By Ashan Herath

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Gecko’s 2016 in Review

From all of us at Gecko, we hope you have had a Merry Christmas, and wish you all a peaceful and prosperous 2017.

The committee would like to thank all of our followers for your support of our work this year, and we look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.

We held our Annual General Meeting in early December, and are pleased to welcome a new executive committee- more details to follow in January!

For now, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the highlights of our work this year, and update you on the progress of our supported projects in Sri Lanka, which your kind donations have made possible.

In February, we held our third pub quiz, once again at The Railway Tavern in Liverpool Street, London. Sri Lanka’s answer to Dermot O’Leary, Gecko’s very own quizmaster Denesh Srikantharajah guided everyone through a varied and entertaining series of brainteasers and fun bonus rounds. With some excellent pub grub and beverages, a great evening was enjoyed by all. Team “Ross Geller”, aptly named from being comprised of married couples and Ross, emerged victorious and took away the well-earned cinema vouchers.


In May, torrential rain caused severe flooding in a number of areas in Sri Lanka, with a devastating impact on many homes and livelihoods. We were glad to be able to provide an emergency fund of £500.00 towards the flood relief efforts conducted by Sri Lanka Red Cross at this time of need.


August saw the return of our summer cricket carnival, The Gecko Sixes, now in its ninth incarnation. With the added excitement of a quarter final round, and freshly cooked hoppers, courtesy of RUCI foods, clear sunny skies, another great day out was had by all. We were also pleased to crown new Gecko Sixes Champions, attending the event for the first time.


In total, Gecko has raised £1,968.59 from the Pub Quiz and The Gecko Sixes this year.

In addition to the emergency flood fund (£500.00) donated in May via Sri Lanka Red Cross, we are proud to support further ongoing rehabilitation work by Sevanatha in the Sedawatte region, including the construction of basic facilities such a toilets which many families were stripped of in the flooding. Our thanks to Give2Lanka for facilitating this donation of £750.00 and supporting this as well as a large number of honourable charitable causes in Sri Lanka.



We have also donated £750.00 to The Organization of People for Engagement and Enterprise (OPEnE) to aid the development of their education hub centres in Iluppaikkadavai and Mannar in the North of the country, to support children in curriculum challenges and life skills, through after school classes.




Once again, our heartfelt thanks to you all for your support of our events this year. We are always looking for new committee members to play a larger role in organising our events. We are a friendly, approachable group of young volunteers in the UK and have really enjoyed working with Gecko over the years. If you are interested in getting involved, or know anyone who may be, please get in touch with us at You can also follow us on Facebook.

Finally, the committee would like to thank our outgoing president, Madura Jayatunga for his hard work and leadership over the past two years. Madu has been at the forefront of Gecko’s work right from its inception in 2005, and his drive to carry the charity’s work into its second decade has been inspirational to us all.

We wish you all a Happy New Year, and look forward to seeing you in 2017!

The Gecko Committee

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Flooding Relief Effort

By Yasath

Gecko Sri Lanka is glad to be able to donate £500.00 in support of relief efforts coordinated by Sri Lanka Red Cross Society following the devastating effects of flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka last week.

Torrential rain has afflicted the country in recent weeks, resulting in mass flooding and mudslides which are feared to have killed in excess of 100 persons, and left hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.

Our charity was founded in response to a natural disaster and while we are proud to have supported a number of long term community projects and initiatives since, we are glad to support the country any way we can in this hour of need.

Find out more about Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and their work here.

You can find more news on the flooding in Sri Lanka on the BBC website in the World News Section under Asia.



Image from



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Gecko Sixes Charity Cricket Tournament 2016

The recent upturn in the weather has our minds wandering to summer and cricket fields, and of course, our favourite annual sporting contest, the Gecko Sixes. After a disappointing show by the Sri Lankan team in the T20 World Cup, and a tough tour of England about to start, perhaps it’s time to show the pros how it’s done. Well, dust off your bats, stretch out that bowling action, and come along!

Date: Saturday 13th August, 11am – 5pm

Venue: Victoria Recreation Ground, Balaclava Road, Surbiton, London, KT6 5JL

For those who haven’t come before, the Gecko Sixes is a fun-filled day of soft-ball cricket for literally everyone – from seasoned pros to complete beginners. It’s £10 to play, with all proceeds going to charity. Each team is comprised of six people, but even if you don’t have a ready-made team, just come along and we can sort out the teams on the day. We want girls to get involved too, so girls score double runs. Matches are 5 overs per innings; it’s all action cricket! Aside from the cricket, there’ll be plenty of snacks and refreshments, including delicious Sri Lankan favourites like mutton rolls and samosas!

Here’s our video of the action from last year. We can’t wait – see you there!

Visit our Facebook Event page here and click attending to get more updates about the event: 


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Gecko Pub Quiz 2016

2016 Pub Quiz PosterBy Ashan

As per Gecko tradition, once more we see off another -Sri Lankan- year with our infamous Gecko Pub Quiz 2016! (SL NYE: April 13th, fun fact for future quizzes)

On a typically cold February Sunday, Gecko Sri Lanka welcomed our guests into the Railway Tavern for our warm company, warmer food, and hot as hellfire pub quiz. Six rounds, eight questions each.

For those who couldn’t make it, here is just a little taster of what you were missing out on:


tim-peake-space-selfie1)Science & Technology: What is happening in this photo?

2) Sport: Who was the highest run scorer for Sri Lanka in tests for 2015?

3)  Geography: List these UK cities in order from East to West? A) Liverpool, B) Edinburgh, C) Carlisle, D) Manchester

4) TV & Film:Romesh Ranganathan hosted a BBC comedy show in Sri Lanka – what was it called?

5) Which protest of December 16, 1773 was the catalyst for the American Revolutionary War?

6) Music: What song is being described in this video? (from our international correspondent and well known gecko, Hemita!)

Once more, our own Denesh Srikantharajah kept the evening lively with his easy-going, Dermot O’Leary-style of hosting. As quizmaster he brought back the classic bonus rounds, such as the loveable “Heads or Tails” and our quick fire round.

When all said and done, we collected the answers, counted the points, and in the end it was Madu’s team who won by a point! Team “Ross Geller” (named due to their married couples… and one guy called Ross) got to walk home with their heads held high, beaming with pride… and cinema vouchers!


Thanks again to everyone who attended, not just for making it another fun filled night, but for helping us raise £465 for charity! We hope to see you all next year for more brain teasing questions  and fun-filled bonus rounds!



Answers: (1) Selfie from space, (2) Dinesh Chandimal, (3) D-C-A-B , (4) Asian Provocateur, (5) The Boston Tea Party, (6) Black Magic by Little Mix!

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Gecko Pub Quiz: What You Need to Know

By Madura

The Essentials
Railway Tavern, 15 Liverpool St, London EC2M 7NX
Time: 6.30pm – 9pm (approx)
Food & drinkCan be purchased from the bar

2016 Pub Quiz Poster.jpg

It’s just under one month till we once again sharpen our pencils, brush up on our general knowledge and pack into the homely upstairs of the Railway Tavern for an evening of heated deliberation, whispered collaboration and haughty chuckles.

The Gecko Pub Quiz will return to our favourite pub in Liverpool street on Sunday 21st February. The quiz will begin sharp at 6.30pm, with entrance costing a cool £10 – with all proceeds going towards charity. Come along with teams of 7 or under, or cobble together a team on the day, and make some new friends while you’re at it!

This years quiz promises to just as fiendish and funny as the last, with 6 rounds covering Science to Sport and Music to Movies. As always each round will be broken up by our trademark bonus rounds, each offering a slightly different challenge to those found at your typical pub quiz.

If you have any questions, please post them on our facebook page, and one of our admins will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks a lot, we look forward to seeing you soon!

The Gecko Committee

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Mental Health in Sri Lanka

By João

“Shame, guilt, humiliation. I do not want to go through it all. Better if I just stay indoors. Away from everything and everyone. It feels so oppressing, as if all April’s heat has entered my body, and the monsoon will never come to release me from this heaviness. I feel suffocated. Eventually, things will get better, this weight will be lifted off my shoulders. Or maybe not, and I’ll just stay here, on my own, waiting for some help which will never come”.

Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, mental health problems. For many, concepts difficult to put into words – they are not like a visible bruise you can see on your skin, a broken bone causing agonising pain, or a nagging migraine which just won’t go away. Yet health problems affecting our psychological and emotional well-being are as real and tangible as any physical illness, affecting the lives of millions across the world.

The story in Sri Lanka is no different. Despite demonstrating an enormous resilience towards adversity, the country’s recent history of conflict and natural disasters has left profound scars in its population. Thousands of Sri Lankans are thought to experience mental health problems, yet help and support is not always available, particularly for those living in more remote communities away from the capital and coastal regions.

Over the past few years significant efforts have been made to improve mental health care practice across the island. Numbers of health care staff trained in psychiatric skills does however remain low, particularly of those combining mental health and community work training.

Together with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) located in Angoda, and the University of Kelanya, Unity in Health has embarked on a small yet ambitious plan to train more community mental health nurses in the country – professionals who can support those who suffer alone and in silence, and bring much needed treatment and above all hope where none seems to be left.

The course consists of a Higher Diploma in Community Mental Health Nursing, to be offered to approximately 50 to 60 general nurses (numbers to be confirmed) currently working in hospitals across the island. For a period of three months and with the support of both UK trained health care volunteers and local lecturers, students will be encouraged to broaden their knowledge on mental illness and related care, community based support, and to engage in practical placements across different settings currently operating in Sri Lanka. Ultimately, it is hoped that the availability of more trained nurses in community mental health care will stimulate the creation of much needed multidisciplinary, community based health care teams particularly in regions where these are currently non-existent. In essence, our final aim is to bring professional care and support to those most forgotten and ignored.

We would not be able to deliver this without the help of others. The support and enthusiasm of Gecko and all its friends is immensely appreciated by us all – you are helping to make this a reality, and for that we are all very grateful.

We would be delighted to see you in Sri Lanka whilst delivering the programme, so if you happen to be around later in the year, do let us know – it will be a pleasure to share our experiences with you all.

Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan writer who died earlier in April of this year, has a wonderful quote with which we could not agree more:

“I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it’s humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.”

On behalf of all future nurses to be trained and from our team, once again thanks a million to all “Geckos”!

We hope to see you soon,


Unity in Health


Staff at the National Institute of Mental Health, having a break under a tree, January 2015

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Gecko Sixes 2015: The Legend Continues

By Denesh

8.33am. It’s Saturday morning. But not just any Saturday morning … no, it’s the morning of Gecko Sixes. So just like a child on Christmas Day, I leap out of bed with giddy excitement and immediately look outside the window, only this time praying for sun and not snow.

As we pull up to the Victoria Recreation Ground at Surbiton, the excitement builds. The sight of the vast open space and the smell of freshly cut grass bring into focus what we’re here for: a fun-filled day of soft-ball cricket played out on the backdrop of friendly banter and good-spirited competition, all in the name of charity. This is our eighth edition of Gecko Sixes, and it’s due to be bigger and better than ever.

And so we start setting up, plotting the boundaries that will provide the barriers to success and the gazebo that will shelter the delicious food that will soon line our stomachs. A quick look up to the sky – the magic of the Sixes continues to defy the poor forecast. Perfect.

The first teams begin to arrive, and not even train delays can prevent them making their way to the ground. The windballs are out and the bats are picked up from the pavilion with gusto as men, women, boys and girls stride out purposefully simply for a relaxing warm up. With Yasath – one of two vice-presidents of Gecko – leading the troops, the groups are drawn up and the format of the tournament is explained to the eagerly awaiting crowd. 13 teams this year, I see … a magnificent turn out, especially considering the numerous spectators present. I look around the ground to see familiar faces combined with new friends that are experiencing the tournament for the first time. It’s lovely to see the event branching out to new audiences and raising the awareness of the charity.

Okay, it’s time the talking stopped. It’s down to business now. The teams set out to the five pitches around the ground and the scene is set for something special. And then it begins – orange windballs raining down from the sky, the sound of clattering wickets and joyous celebrations. How pleasant to see cricket being played in the spirit of the recent England-New Zealand series rather than what promises to be a spiky Ashes series to come. It’s amazing to see people of different abilities combining in unison to create cricketing magic. The highlight of the group stage surely must be the tied match between teams F and I: the last ball top-edged but spinning beyond the keeper’s grasp to the boundary to send team F into hysterics as they progress as group winners.

So there we have it, four teams progress to the semi-finals. And two unlucky runner-ups led by brothers Wikum and Madu respectively play out an eventful plate final, with the latter coming out on top. Time for a break – and the aunties are doing an incredible job serving the mutton rolls and patties, sandwiches and cake, keeping the crowds happy and well-fed. Oh, someone’s got the frisbee out for a little fun on the side, and the picnic blankets are out with people lounging in the sun that has finally begun to peek out from behind the clouds. Excellent.

Unfortunately this is where my team meets its end, with an exciting low-scoring game deservedly swaying in Team Manthi’s favour. In the other semi final, Team Sam beats Team Ham, despite the batting efforts of the excellently nicknamed Joe “School of Hard” Knox. Two first-time finalists, a brilliant advert for the tournament. Terrific.

And there we have it. It all comes down to this – the sun timing its entrance perfectly as it floods the grounds in glorious sunshine. And the tone for the final is set from the very first ball, a magnificent one-handed catch on the boundary by Heshan sending the crowd into raptures and leaving Jonny deflated, having batted exquisitely throughout the tournament. With a score of 28 to chase, captain Manthi and the stylish Shiraz set about their task with ruthless efficiency, carrying their team to victory. Handshakes all round, with gracious winners and sporting runners-up – what more could you ask for?

And that’s all folks – the medals are presented to the victors and special thanks to Yasath, who was the organiser-in-chief, as well as Madu, president of Gecko. And of course the final word belongs to Unity in Health, the charity organisation to which we are donating all proceeds from this year’s event. They are setting up a diploma for community psychiatric nursing in rural Sri Lanka, targeting an area of health that is often overlooked and poorly funded in the country. A wonderful project to match a wonderful event.

So as the crowds disperse, I look up to the sky – and it starts to pour it down. I could not have timed it better myself. The magic of Gecko Sixes lives on …

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The Gecko Sixes Charity Cricket Tournament 2015: 10 days to go

By Semini

Less than 2 weeks to go till our annual charity cricket tournament which will be held on June 20th at the Victoria Recreation Ground, Surbiton. Registration opens at 11am so grab your friends/family/loved ones/strangers and come join the fun!

Join our Facebook event here.

This is the 8th year we’ve been running the tournament and it goes from strength to strength. We’ve learnt that whilst some of you come for the cricket, a lot of you come for the food and the fun – and we love that!

For those of you that haven’t been, the format is the same every year. You can enter in teams of 6 or come on your own or in smaller groups and we’ll find a team for you. Your team will be entered in the group stages and you’ll play other teams for a chance to go through to the semi-finals and final! Each game has only five overs an innings so each game is short and sweet and allows your team to play a few matches over the course of the day.

This year we will be supporting Unity in Health’s project to strengthen the training of Community Mental Health Nursing in Sri Lanka by development of a new diploma qualification.   All profits from the day, coupled with our hugely successful Pub Quiz in April will be donated towards this honourable work. To find out more about the work of Unity in Health in Sri Lanka, see here.

At this point I would love to give you some tips on the game and how to win the competition… but those of you that know me will know that my sporting prowess is nothing compared to my enthusiasm towards mutton rolls. What I do know is that everybody is welcome – we always have a mixture of abilities and ages; girls even score double runs!

It costs £10 to play and £5 to spectate and is a guaranteed great day out for all. We can’t promise good weather (although we’ve been pretty lucky so far) but we are certain you’ll have an awesome day so come join the fun!


If you need any more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can find us on facebook or contact Deno on 07515003807.

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