“The benefit from working on a project like this goes beyond fighting cancer. We learn to fight as one Sri Lanka and have no differences dividing us.”

Hilir Mohamed’s life changed forever in 2014 when his son was diagnosed with cancer. Having endured the cruelty of the disease that ravaged his son’s life, Hilir wanted to ease the pain and suffering of thousands of others, who suffered a similar fate. It was also his son’s dying wish to procure a PET scanner for the Apeksha Hospital in Maharagama.

Looking back, Hilir says that the project seemed like a daunting challenge that he wasn’t confident he could overcome. He initiated the effort to collect funds to buy a PET Scanner for the hospital at a time when there was communal disharmony in the country. He recalls that as a Muslim, he was worried that collecting funds would hinder his efforts of reaching out to the wider community of people from all races and religions. This notion was soon changed.

Hilir endured and accepted the challenge. His first motivation was his son’s request and secondly the need to serve society. The generous donations of many across Sri Lanka made it possible to raise the funds needed for the PET Scanner within a short period of three months. He recalls seeing funds transferred into the account every 12 seconds. This brought him the realisation that his effort had brought people together regardless of their colour, race or religion.

Having established a team to take his voluntary work forward, Hilir dreams of a day humans will find a cure for cancer. Until then, he promises to keep up the fight to save lives. The Fight Cancer Team, that he set up to further his efforts, includes about 150 members representing different fields in society, people of all religions and social backgrounds. He says the intention now is to continue their social service beyond handing over the PET Scanner to the hospital. His goal is to make the Apeksha Hospital in Maharagama the best hospital in South Asia by 2025.

His current efforts include fundraising for LINET beds and Tomotherapy machine for the hospital. He is also keen on procuring a CT Scanner and an MRI Machine for the hospital. He says the motivation now is to get essential equipment that the hospital requires and replacing the old machines with new ones.

Hilir has now dedicated his life to fighting cancer and is willing to make any sacrifice to bring people together for a good cause. “I had to sacrifice the time I spend with my family and business, to make sure this project got underway and I did so with no regrets. Not only did I get to fulfil my son’s last wish I got an opportunity to bring people together, to awaken their humaneness. The benefit from working on a project like this goes beyond fighting cancer. We learn to fight as one Sri Lanka and have no differences dividing us.”

Social service, for Hilir is all about the intention to do good. “I started the Kadijah Foundation in remembrance of my mother, 20 years ago, so I have experience in social service. All of this helped to make this project a success. As a citizen there is a lot you can do for your country and people. If the intention is good, then whatever you wish for and want will be a success.”