An engineer for the North Marin Water District who once lived in her native Sri Lanka without running water has scheduled a gourmet buffet fundraiser to benefit nonprofits that advocate for safe water and safe housing.
Chandrasekera of Novato has created “A Taste of Sri Lanka 2013” on Oct. 17 not
only for the international Water for People organization but also to benefit
Homeward Bound of Marin’s Oma Village housing project. The special dinner will
take place at Homeward Bound’s Key Center in Hamilton, and advance tickets are available on a link below.
The two causes are dear to Chandrasekera, who moved to Marin in 2000 but was phased out of her consulting job in 2003.
“I lived without having water in the lovely home I lived in Sri Lanka, and my family -- including our two young kids at the time -- was close to being homeless in Marin during another phase of my life,” she said. “These two nonprofit organizations are close to my heart.”
Chandrasekera, who has a Ph.D. in ocean engineering, landed an associate engineer position with the North Marin Water District in 2004 and qualified for affordable housing in Hamilton the following year. She designs and manages projects such as the construction of water tanks, and water and recycled water distribution pipelines.
“Carmela has been an ardent supporter of the Water for People program and has been instrumental in encouraging NMWD employees to contribute funds to the charity annually since 2006,” said David Bentley, NMWD’s auditor-controller. “Through her NMWD pancake breakfasts, lunchtime potlucks and silent auctions, Carmela has raised thousands of dollars for the charity.”
A wife and mother of two grown children, Chandrasekera said she has been inspired to become more active in the community after graduating in 2013 from the Leadership Novato program offered by the Novato Chamber of Commerce. She was named the program’s Ed Stark Honoree for her personal leadership qualities.
Liz Watson, who runs the Leadership Novato program for the chamber, said she has been impressed with Chandrasekera’s quiet and unassuming ways, especially when she spoke from the heart to her Leadership classmates about her journey as an immigrant and about the day she became a U.S. citizen.“This upcoming event - her brainchild - is leadership carried forward in its most fundamental and aspiring form,” Watson said. “Carmela is one person making a significant difference from the seed of passion and a very personal experience.”
In July, the Novato City Council approved the plans for Oma Village, a 14-unit housing complex to be built at 5394 Nave Drive in Novato, about a mile south of Homeward Bound’s headquarters and very close to the Chandrasekera’s home. Oma Village will be open to families in transition and working toward economic sustainability. Homeward Bound is the county’s largest provider of shelter and services, working toward the goal of ending homelessness with training, housing and hope.
Water for People promotes access to safe water and sanitation practices in developing countries, although not yet in Sri Lanka. Chandrasekera said she believes the problem is more severe in other countries where Water For People have current projects.
Chandrasekera said the event will be a chance to enjoy the redolent spices of Sri Lankan cuisine and learn about two projects offering hope to families. She’s handling the cooking along with staff from Homeward Bound’s Fresh Starts Culinary Academy.
The menu includes:
· Kaha Bath - lightly spiced aromatic long-grained Basmati rice
· Kukul Mas Curry – chicken cooked with spices, Sri Lankan herbs and coconut milk
· Parippu Hodi – mild red lentil curry tempered with shallots, garlic and mustard seeds
· Curd Sambol – thinly sliced cucumber with refreshing yogurt
· Fresh salad
· Vanilla ice cream topped with roasted cashews and palm treacle
· Caramel pudding
Complimentary tea, coffee, water and lemonade will be served, and wine will be available for purchase.
Tickets are $50. All proceeds benefit Water for People and Oma Village. Advance ticket purchases can be made at http://tasteofsrilanka.brownpapertickets.com.