“Service and Sacrifice”: Celebrating the centenary of International Women’s Day with Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“Each person must live their life as a model for others”~ Rosa Louise McCauley Parks-February 4, 1913-October 24, 2005, African American Civil rights activist

We will be celebrating the centenary of International Women’s Day on March 8th 2010. This year’s theme of International Women’s Day is “Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all”.

In 1910, The Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen established a Women’s Day international in character to honour the movement for women’s rights and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament.

A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day to press for their demands.

Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah

Humanityashore spoke to Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah in order to highlight the centenary celebrations of International Women’s Day 2010.

“I enjoyed cooking and serving food for all. I love to take care of others. I like all food. I led a healthy and wealthy life in my village- Tharmapuram” says charming and soft spoken Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah who sits straight on a chair in a living room in Kalubowila.

She celebrated her 99th birthday on February 6th 2010 in her son’s house outside Colombo. Her children, daughters-in laws, grandchildren, great grandchildren and relatives sent her greeting cards, called and visited her in person and wished her long life.

Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah has 8 sons (one died when he was 18 year-old), 12 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. She hails from Chavakachcheri in Jaffna Peninsula.

She moved with her family to Tharmapuram on 29th of April 1959, and continued to live there till she got displaced in 2009. She came to Colombo in October 2009 after spending sometime with her granddaughter in Vavuniya after the displacement. She did not want to come to Colombo, but her children wanted her to rest in Colombo for awhile. Her husband Reverend Thambyrajah was a Priest of Church of South India and he died in 1982.

“I am the first person in our family who lived this long, and I very much want to go back to my lovely village Tharmapuram, celebrate my centenary birthday and live there happily and die peacefully. It is my dream” mentions Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah in her pleasant voice.

It was a miracle that we were not injured and survived. My sons carried me on a chair all the way throughout the journey. It is a God’s blessing that we all survived unhurt. I thank the God wholeheartedly” says Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah with a big smile on her beautiful face. The war began when she was in her 60s.

“I miss my beautiful village very much” says a very gracious person Louisa Arulamma Thambyrajah while tears fill her eyes.

She is the only surviving founding member of Navajeevanam (New Life), which was established in 1959, and provided education and rehabilitation for the children in need. It is situated on Paranthan-Mullaitheevu main road. Their motto is “Ready for Both: Service and Sacrifice”.

Her grandchildren call her “Appuchcha”. Her memory is still strong .She is very well informed about the news from around the world. She remains a loving and caring person and strong-willed source of inspiration.
HumanityAshore.org ~ Email: dushi.pillai@gmail.com


  1. Senthivel says:

    We are family friends of the Thambirajas. Our association was with Arulrajan (AruL) and Theebarajah ( Theebam). When Arul was in Toronto he had the same characters as their parents especially helping others.

    I was new to Canada and he gave his car and also found a part time job watering plants in office complexes. I take this opportunity to wish her and I hope I will have the opportunity to see her on the 100th birthday.God bless her and their families with good health.

  2. sherrine & Owen says:

    We wish to take this opportunity to wish this Lady a Happy Birthday, and all the Best.

    Many a good lesson to learn from this Lady.
    Never to give up, no matter how hard it gets.

    All the Best

    sherrine & Owen

  3. Mohan says:

    Navajeevanam is very close to my heart since 1979. Amma as she is known to many of us is a very special person. Her mere presence in any occasion is bound to cheer up everyone present there. She is ‘Jill’ of all trades and master of most of it.

    I know she will not be happy at anywhere but at Navajeevanam. I trust and pray that god will guide her back to Murasumoodai and would enable her to celebrate her 100th B’day happily and peacefully.

    Insha Allah Thaya, Nibbitto and I will be there to share the joy. You have been a wonderful mother to many of us