Berkeley Student Publishes Photo Book Benefitting Orphanage

Berkeley Preparatory School sophomore Anuksha Wickramasinghe has possessed a passion for photography for as long as she can remember; she also has a compassion for her ancestral home of Sri Lanka. She has now combined her two interests into a project from the heart and published a book of photography showcasing the beauty and mystery of the island nation.

“From a young age, I’ve loved taking photos and capturing moments to be able to convey a story.  Sri Lanka is a place that has many facets and many stories, most of which aren’t often told.  It’s a place of great beauty, but it also has a darker past of bloodshed and violence.  I’ve always wanted to create a piece that reflected the allure of Sri Lanka.”
Anuksha said she decided to publish her book in Sri Lanka in order to further connect with her target audiences and gain more support for a place very near and dear to her heart, the Grace Girls’ Home, which is located in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. “The girls at Grace Girls’ Home are some of the most loving, kind, grateful, and deserving children ever, but because of the lottery of birth, many of these children have had to suffer atrocities that no human being should ever endure.  There are girls who have had to beg on the streets and sleep in local graveyards, living a day-to-day life with little to no hope before they were taken into this home.  Others have seen their parents shot in the war or killed by the devastating 2004 tsunami, and it is thanks to Grace Girls' Home that these girls have been able to find new meaning, new love, and new opportunities in their lives.”
Anuksha spent a lot of time contacting publishers for her book in Sri Lanka.  “I was very fortunate to have Gunaratne Offset, one of the biggest publishers in the country show interest in my book.  It was about six months of back and forth through email, but ultimately, I feel that it was worth the time and effort to produce something that did justice to my cause.”
Anuksha explained that, for generations, her family has lived in Sri Lanka, a small island nation almost halfway across the world.  In the 1980s, a civil war between the two major ethnicities broke out, causing mass destruction, casualties, and the polarization of the entire country.  Many lost their lives and family members, and the country became a warzone with people fearing for their lives and forcing them to leave the country. “My parents came to the United States and attended college, leaving behind the only place that they had ever known,” she said.  “While the story of my family has a happy ending, the same is not so for many others.  As both a girl with a Sri Lankan heritage and a human being, I feel a deep connection to this cause.”
Currently, her book “Sri Lanka: Through My Eyes” is selling in Sri Lanka and she is shipping copies to the United States for those interested. All profits will be donated to the orphanage.
“We should all take a moment to acknowledge our privilege and understand the power within us to do good for others who are less fortunate,” Anuksha explained. “I hope, through my work, I can bring attention to those in Sri Lanka and inspire others to take action and help humanity, be it locally or globally.”


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