Capt. Elmo Jayawardena took to the skies when Sri Lanka’s commercial aviation was, to coin a phrase, just taking off. He is today known for his writing published in mainstream media, often anchored to his work with Candle Aid Lanka. Elmo went through an impoverished childhood, and his success today as a philanthropist was achieved through singular dedication and hard work. We talk about his first job, how he got into the airline industry and the hardships he had to endure when growing up.

Remarkably, Elmo is also an award winning writer. His book Sam’s Story won the Graetian Prize in 2001 and is one of the successful books Vijitha Yapa has ever published. We talk at length about the characters and leitmotifs in Sam’s Story, and what compelled Elmo to write it.

Candle Aid’s work is clearly Elmo’s chief interest in Sri Lanka, and we talk about what made him begin, its nature and what he expects is the future for the organisation after he has moved on.

  • mel

    Did he say when the crow book was coming out?

    Enjoyed the interview

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    I rarely watch these interviews all the way through, but this one I did, and I couldn’t help but do so. Elmo is a one cool dude, without trying to be. He is authentic; he has soul, he has an exemplary philosophy of life.A flyer, a trainer, a writer, who does good things for people: What a guy! He also brings the best out of Sanjana.

    You know, all these debates, discussions and disquisitions on Grounbd views about a Sri Lankan identity; about what it is to be a Sri Lankan? I think it has just been solved. Just dig Elmo; listen to the man. By his very being, his ontology, he cuts through the debate and the polarisations. What you here is a Sri Lankan voice, a Sri Lankan consciousness, a Sri Lankan identity. Not constructed, but evolved, lived, lived out daily. Capt Elmo Jayawardana is what it means to be a Sri Lankan; he represents Sri Lanknness while also being at ease anywhere on the globe. He and his wife Dil are what a Sri Lankan is at his/her best. Anyone wants to know what it would mean to be Sri Lankan and how to be Sri Lankan should check this guy out: this conversation with Sanjana, his books, his life.

  • Susan

    Thoroughly enjoyed this interview..Elmo is so down-to-earth; so real! Every Sri Lankan should listen to this interview!

  • Tony Snelgar

    Once again Elmo has inspired us with his incredible passion and insight, delivered with an air of nonchalance, humility and brilliant simplicity that leaves one gasping for inspirational breath….inspirational life. I will never forget the times spent with him flying, canoeing, reading poetry, singing to strumming guitars and soaking up the red earth of good wine. And never forget the faces of the hundreds of children, blind people and fishermen standing with him like brothers and sisters as if they were at a picinic gathering. We will hear many more discriptions of him as he progresses back “from 36 years of age to his time”. But this is truly “a man for all seasons” and a soul for all people!
    Blue skies and red sunsets to you, ‘Mithura’
    Tony Snelgar (Still rising each blue sky day to teach.)

  • N. Paul

    He is the living god, a man who goes above and beyond to help a another human kind. I am truly honored to know Captain Elmo Jayawardena and his beloved wife. May you both have an eternal life.