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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ajahn Brahm of Perth

Speedy has made the following comment under the posting "Sanath de Tissera".


You are instantly recognisable Sanath. Have a good holiday. You are lucky to be in Perth. You must see and listen to the wonderful Ajahn Brahm.
For your information, Sanath and Kanthi are prominent Dayakayas. I had the pleasure of visiting Ajahn Brahm and monastery in Perth a couple of years ago.

 On extreme left is Cecil Saverimutto who is a GP in Perth.

End of Year Reflections

End of Year Reflections
(It is expected that a lot of my batch-mates will share my lament)

The Band is playing till late
As Holidays come to a close
Calendar on its last date
Flirts with 2012’s last dose

Our tired heads on a pillow rest
Thinking of the years spent
Hurts, like birds, fly the nest
Hurrah! It’s high time they went!

Love, Peace, our new housemates
Love to all, any creed or race
That includes any one who hates
Us for some fall from grace

Work is over- but days go by
Achievements belong in history
“Not much use to the world am I
About my worth? No mystery”

Sunrise, sunset, eat pray sleep
Ever like clock- work goes on
Retirement is a ravine deep
Which relentlessly drags on

But, Hark! The dawn of a New Age!
2012 Bows out gracefully
2013 takes centre stage
Love, Peace, kick in gleefully

And new Hope there is for all
World’s bitter wars may end
Gun usage too, will fall
And every person will be your friend?

Happy New Year to all my batch mates and their families

From Zita

Friday, December 28, 2012

E-Mail and Photo from Speedy

Hi Lucky,

Just to keep the Blog going, I thought you might like to post this picture of the UK contingent in 1991. It was taken at the late Somasunderam's house in Cheadle, Cheshire. As you can see, a few of our colleagues in the picture are no more. I think there are movements afoot to gather as many as possible somewhere sometime in the UK this year.
The picture was taken on the 13th of July 1991.
Wish you a Happy New Year.

Visitor from Perth

My old friend Sanath de Tissera and wife Kanthi are in Sri Lanka on holiday. They visited us a few days ago. Sanath is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Perth, Australia. He was unable to attend our recent Reunion due to a family wedding that clashed with our event.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bernard Randeniya – A Life Remembered

By Nihal D Amerasekera

At Medical College he was known as RADW Bernard. Although we were in the same year, I got to know Bernard when my parents moved to his home town of Wattala in 1963. We travelled daily by train to Maradana with Razaque Ahamat. We began to study together for the intensely difficult 2nd MB examination and struck up a friendship which lasted a lifetime. During those heady days of our youth, there were many fun filled events like the Block Nite, Colours Nite and other Medical College functions. Those bring back numerous memories of music, dancing, fun and laughter. Bernard always featured in them prominently and never missed an opportunity to enjoy.
He immersed himself fully in the life of the University playing a full part in its activities, always. Bernard took part in the festivities of the infamous Law-Medical match with the rest of us. I recall with much fondness the camaraderie during a trip to Kandy with Bernard, Lucky Abeygunawardene, Sanath de Tissera and Lakshman Jayasinghe.  These are memories that will remain with us for many more years.
After Internship in Ragama he married Ranjani Wijetunge, his sweetheart from schooldays. I visited them when he was DMO in Rattota, MOH in Minneriya, Medical Superintendent in Kalutara and also when he was the Director of the Cancer Institute, Maharagama. In this his final posting  I was immensely fortunate to be his host in England when he visited the UK for a Conference. Each time we reminisced at great length the good life in Medical College and the wonderful friendship we enjoyed.
Bernard was held in high esteem in the Health Service as one of its most colourful and successful managers, and as a man who led from the front and inspired all those who worked with him. His great professionalism was accompanied by an infectious enthusiasm for life and mischievous sense of humour. He used his charm and skills of persuasion to obtain expensive equipment for the Cancer Institute to benefit the numerous patients who came for treatment. Despite his achievements, he was also a modest man, protective of his privacy, embarrassed by praise and with a deep aversion for publicity.
In early 1999 when we met up in Colombo, he gave me the sad news of his illness which proved terminal. I kept in touch with him and admire the courage which he showed until the very end. He passed away with great dignity in November 1999 at the age of 58 years. Bernard was a devout Catholic . His Faith gave him great comfort during his final illness.
His cheeky grin and infectious laugh are precious memories for us all. Bernard was my best friend and I will miss him. He was far too young to leave us.
May his Soul Rest In Peace


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is this happiness

Is this happiness

By Mahendra Gonsalkorale

Born to die
And time between.
Is Life just about how best to fill the space?
Is happiness an impossible dream?
Like seeking the beginning of a rainbow?

Chase the fleeing animal and grab it

The joy of success,
Now it’s done, pleasure abates
Is this happiness?

Run the race after years of toil and preparation

Heart and soul went into it, and now you’ve won!
The joy of success,
Overpowering effervescence
Now it’s done, pleasure abates
Is this happiness?

Exhilarating gush of air on the face

In a fast open car on a beautiful country road
The spine tingling thrill of speed
And then,
Inevitably slows down
Back where you were
Now it’s done, pleasure abates
Is this happiness?

The tempo goes up and up

Elation at the peak
The joy of success
Abatement after attainment,
Now it’s done, pleasure abates
Is this happiness?

Chase a dream

Through obstacles and pain
Keep going, don’t give up
Realise the goal
The joy of success.
And then,
Back where you were
Now it's done, pleasure abates
Is this happiness?

The temperature neither rises nor falls

Neither happy nor sad
Pain while rising
Pain while falling
with Joy at the peak,
But when it neither rises nor falls
Neither happiness nor sadness is felt
Change brings joy or sorrow
But Change is constant
Constancy could be numbing and empty
Like a sheet of white paper without poetry.

Forever seeking, finding and seeking again,

Never satisfied
Feel the joy of success, only to be back where you were
Now it’s done, pleasure abates
This cannot be happiness.
Let go, stop clinging, stop wanting
learn to savour the moment, the only reality
Be Content and at Peace
As you are, wherever you are, whoever you are
This is happiness.

Monday, December 10, 2012

N.Balakumar Remembered with Affection - E-Mail from N.D. Amerasekera

Dear Lucky,

I am deeply saddened to hear the loss of another friend from our great batch of 1962. Bala was a great guy with a lovely sense of humour. I last met him at Somasunderam's batch reunion in Manchester probably around 1997. We talked a lot and enjoyed a good laugh and a whisky. It was a long night when we danced the jig unashamedly. We shared many fond memories of the good and the hard times in Medical College.

 He was a respected General Practitioner in Huddersfield surrounded by green hills and deep valleys close to the Yorkshire Dales. Bala enjoyed the clean air and the solitude of the English countryside. He had a strong sense of right and wrong which we acknowledged at Medical College. He fought for his rights with great courage throughout his life. Bala was a much valued member of the community in which he lived since he emigrated in the 1970's.

He was bedevilled with poor health in his final years and was grateful for the support of his close family.

I remember Bala with much affection and recall his unstinting support for the numerous pranks throughout our days at Medical College. He never missed those lavish functions, trips and reunions, then.

May he find Eternal Peace



Sunday, December 9, 2012

N. Balakumar

News has just reached me that yet another member of our batch N. Balakumar has passed away in London. As you know, Bala was ailing for some time. May he Rest in Peace.
I am grateful to Indra Anandasabapathy for conveying this sad news to me.

Be a Founder Member of CoMSAA

I am pleased to let you know that the deadline for Founder Membership of the Colombo Medical School Alumni Association (CoMSAA) has been extended to December 31st, 2012. For details, please visit the CoMSAA website at:
The following from our batch have already been made Founder Members.
Suriyakanthi Amarasekara
Anton Ambrose
Swyrie Balendra
S.A.P. Gnanissara
V.A. Hettiarachchi
Ranjan Hulugalle
Lareef Idroos
Bandula Jayasekara
Sanath Lamabadusuriya
M.Z. Lameer
Douglas Mulgirigama
Lucian Perera
Lalini Rajapaksa
Rajan Ratnesar
Mahesan Richards
Kusuma Ruberu
Harsha Samarajiwa
Pramilla Senanayake
Chandra Silva
H.N. Wickramasinghe
S.S. (Jimmy) Wickramasinghe
L.N.D. Abeyagunawardene
Mahendra Gonsalkorala
Kamali de Silva
Farouk Mahmoud
Lareef Idroos (President of SLMANA - West Coast) and Sanath Lamabadusuriya (former Dean of the Colombo Medical Faculty) have largely been responsible for getting our batch members to join CoMSAA. I am told by Founder President Professor A.H. Sheriffdeen that Lareef has also helped in a successful fund raising project.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Change - a poem by Mahendra Gonsalkorala


Deep blue sky with clean, bright cotton wool puffs,
Shining sun rays spreading hope and happiness
Sea stretching till it meets the sky
Wave upon wave with majestic power
Ripples near the shore with darting lights
Patterns of white foam appearing and disappearing
Stretching and spreading warmth on the golden shore,
Receding but returning
Forever and forever,
Long lines of foot prints nearly washed out
Never tiring waves, never resting
Forming patterns for you to imagine

The gushing wind, so strong but caressing, loving, healing, calming
The smell of sea weed, fish, salt rolled into one,
Take a deep breath with closed eyes
Calm and be happy, at least for now.

Then everything changes,
The sky turns grey and heavy with dark gloom,
Streaks of lightning
Sheets of rain, so strong it hurts the face,
The waves now strong and angry
Wave upon wave lashing the shore with anger
Loud deafening thunder,
I close my eyes and cover my ears and shiver

This is what life is
Calm and beautiful one moment.
Sad and tormenting the next,

Nothing is permanent,
Change is the Universal law

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Tribute to Sidath Jayanetti

By Nihal D Amerasekera
It was with great sadness I received the news of the passing away of yet another friend from our wonderful batch. Sidath Jayanetti joined our batch with the reputation as a fine Rugby player from Royal College, Colombo. He always had a great presence and an air of confidence but had the humility kindness and charm to be liked by everyone who knew him.

My first close contact with him was when we started our clinical work together with Dr Thanabalasunderam in 1964. It was a gruelling 2 months of apprenticeship which brought us all together. The harsh criticism and hard comments never wiped away his broad smile. All through the Rags, Law Medical Match, Block Nights and Colours Nights he was there with us to enjoy the fruits of our labour at Medical College. How time has flown since those happy days of our golden youth.
Sidath was superb company, always. His anecdotes and stories of people and places brought us much laughter. His sheer presence radiated happiness. My last contact with him was in London when he attended the Batch Reunion in 1997 with his family. We reminisced and drank to our health. My lasting memory is that broad smile which was Sidath's trade mark. He was a gem in a world of pebbles.
My thoughts are with his family at this hour of grief.

May he attain the ultimate Bliss of Nirvana.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sidath Jayanetti

I just heard the sad news that yet another member of our batch had passed away. Please see Nalin's e-mail below.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: nalin nanayakkara <>
Date: Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 10:19 AM
Subject: Dr Sidath Jayanetti


I am informing you with deep regret that Dr Sidath Jayanetti is no more.
He passed way in Miami, Florida last night, the victim of a massive stroke.Sidath was my classmate at Royal and at Med College and after I got married we got related, he was my wife's first cousin.At Royal he was a classy Rugby winger, he used to run like the wind to the amazement of all the onlookers.It was just 10 days ago that I sent him two DVD's of our 50th Med School reunion of Sep 2012.He called me back to say that he recognized most everyone there.Sidath was looking forwards to going back to SL in Dec. and we agreed to meet there.Ciest la vie !

Nalin N

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Colombo Medical School Alumni Association

Dear Friends,
Everyone agreed that our recent Batch Reunion was a tremendous success. Our batch also had the largest representation at the first ever Mega Reunion of Colombo Medical Graduates held in Colombo some time ago. This gentle reminder is about another important matter.
Sanath Lama and I have already requested you to consider joining the Colombo Medical School Alumni Association (CoMSAA). Some of you have already joined. If you have not done so already, please think about it seriously. I am resending you the information you need.
Instructions on how to apply for membership is given in the application form.

Download Application Form
MS Word
For more information about CoMSAA, please click on:
Thank you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Interview with Sanath Lamabadusuriya

(Courtesy official website of the Student Medical Journal of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo).

If you are sure of yourself, stand your ground!
An interview with Professor Sanath P. Lamabadusuriya

Ruwanthi Seneviratne, Manu Wimalachandra, Dakshitha Wickramamsinghe


Senior Professor and former chair in Paediatrics and former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Colombo, Professor Sanath P. Lamabadusuriya is a well known and much respected medical academic. He has made an immense contribution to teaching, research and the practice of medicine both in Sri Lanka and overseas. He has also been awarded a prestigious MBE by HRH Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the field. Here, Prof. “Lama” as he is affectionately known, shares his experiences with our editorial team.

What was the initial period like?

My choice was to specialize in the medical side rather than the surgical side, since surgery never attracted me. I graduated at the top of my batch and so I had the opportunity to get my choice of appointment for internship. I chose the professorial medicine unit for the first 6 months under Professor K. Rajasuriya and for the next 6 months, to the surprise of many, I chose to work under Dr. P.R. Anthonis, as working with the professor of surgery at that time you were more a clerk than anything else. To this date I believe I made the correct choice. Initially the unit had a SHO, but he left during my 2 nd month and I had to take on his role as well. I had a lot of responsibility, which I enjoyed thoroughly.

How did you become an academic?

After my internship, I served at the Chest Hospital, Welisara for a period of nine months. During this time two vacancies were advertised at the Colombo Medical Faculty; Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Pathology and Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics. I applied for both posts because I always liked the academic setting. The interviews for the post in Pathology were first, and to this date I'm thankful to Prof. Gerry Cooray for not selecting me!

When I went for interview for the post in Paediatrics, I found that it was chaired by the Vice Chancellor at that time, Mr. Walwin De Silva. Prof. Rajasuriya, Prof. Priyani Soysa and Prof. Chapman were also there; quite a panel! Many in the field of paediatrics had also applied for the post, but one by one they got knocked out. Prof. Soysa asked me why I didn‟t do paediatrics for my internship and my reply was “I did medicine for the first 6 months, so I could not do paediatrics for the 2 nd 6 months”. Of course she knew it was a hollow answer, but this was not known to the non-medical people in the panel. I was selected for the job!

What were your first experiences as an academic?

We as undergraduates never took paediatrics seriously because there were only 2 questions in the clinical medicine paper, and one could easily pass medicine without knowing much paediatrics. Therefore I had not done much reading in paediatrics. Before assuming duties I wanted to read up, but the only book I had was a book by Prof. C.C. De Silva and Mrs. Vishvanathan, meant for mothers!

I assumed duties on the 1st April 1969. In the beginning, I was sharing responsibilities with 2 house officers, and had first on call duty for 3 months.

I received a Colombo Plan scholarship to go to UK to do my MRCP and DCH. The British Council had arranged a course in paediatrics at the Institute of Child Health, but I informed them that I would prefer a job in the National Health Service. I applied and was selected for the post of SHO in neonatal paediatrics at the Whittington Hospital in North London. I was on call every other night, but the salary was 120 pounds, much more than the 72 pounds I would have received from the scholarship! Max Friedman, the Consultant whom I worked with, didn't allow reading notes when presenting cases and this was a training by itself. During this appointment I had to sleep in the unit, if a baby was being ventilated. During this very busy and intensive appointment, I managed to pass the MRCP (London) examination at the first attempt.

I was sent to the UK for a period of two years, but within 6 months, I had finished the exams. I was faced with two options, to work as a registrar and get a better salary, or to get some research experience but to manage with the scholarship money. I had no one to ask for advice, and fortunately decided to get into research and forego the monetary benefits. To this date, I am very happy I made that decision.

I started reading for my PhD in 1972, with Dr. John Harries at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and Institute of Child Health. However, my leave was about to finish in 1973 so I applied for an extension of leave. The dean didn't like the idea but Prof. Soysa backed me and managed to get the leave extended. If they had not, I would not have stopped my PhD to come back, and my career would‟ve taken a different course. I wouldn't have come back to Sri Lanka.

During this period of research I had to fall back to the scholarship allowance of 72 pounds again. I worked for the Southern Relief Service during the weekends and for the 20 hours of work I was paid 30 pounds. I was provided with a chauffer driven radio car and I had to visit patients‟ homes because their GPs were not available. I criss-crossed the London streets innumerable times, visiting homes. I resumed duties at the LRH on 1st January 1975.

People were happy to see me as many were not returning after foreign training, at that time. During the first 3 months I was only entitled to a 3 figure salary, but that was more than enough. I was single, living with my parents, the bus travel cost only 25 cents either way and the lunch was Rs. 1.60, so I had a comfortable life. I brought a bicycle in my sea luggage, but arriving at the LRH in a bath of sweat didn't help my work, so I opted to get a car with a car permit. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and I got to know the students very closely.

Tell us about your experience at the Galle Medical Faculty.

The Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, was established in the late 70s and I was chosen for the post of Founder Professor of Paediatrics. One of my biggest achievements there was the Cleft Palate Project, in collaboration with the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. The Co-Director of the project was Dr. Michael Mars, Consultant Orthodontist, at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormand Street, London. In addition to the service rendered to the patients, it also had the world‟s largest database on unoperated cleft lip and palate with more than 1000 patients. It was so successful that the BBC even made a film about the project called “When to Mend Faces”. The film was televised in 1992 in a programme titled QED and won an award.

A lady who had seen this documentary was interested in donating £250,000 for a health development project. They contacted me, but I was on sabbatical leave, and the project was awarded to the disability studies unit of the Colombo North Medical Faculty. The money was used to start a diploma course to train speech therapists, and as a direct result, we now have nearly 60 speech therapists in Sri Lanka.

In 1988, during the final few months of my sabbatical leave in Saudi Arabia, many of my friends wrote to me advising me against returning to Sri Lanka as the political situation was unstable. I however, returned, to the surprise of many! I had no personal threats, and I did not go on strike a single day.

A few years later, the chair fell vacant in Colombo, and I returned to Colombo as Professor of Peadiatrics.
How is your teaching experience overseas different to the one in Sri Lanka?

The British students ask questions whenever they are in doubt, whilst our students are very subdued. The foreign students also have a very broad knowledge and are more mature. They may not know the nitty-gritty of paediatrics, but you can have a decent conversation with them on just about any subject. May be it ‟s our “epa” culture; there is no encouragement for anything!

Can you give us some tips about handling children?

Handling children is an art that is developed through experience. The key to it is a conducive
environment and age and gender appropriate toys. The power of toys is amazing!

Any special message to our students?

Spend more time in the wards rather than in the library; because you never know when you might need what you have seen. A x-ray of the chest which had an azygous system I saw as an undergraduate helped me in my MRCP clinicals!

And if you are sure of yourself, stand your ground!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Speedy's Reunion Presentation

“Challenges and  Opportunities in an Ageing Society”

Summary of  Lecture delivered at the 50th Anniversary Reunion Academic session of the Medical Entrants of 1962 in Sri lanka on the 1st of September 2012 by  Dr Mahendra Gonsalkorale.

The World population is growing rapidly. From an estimated 2.5 billion in 1950, it reached 6.1 billion in 2000 and is projected to grow to 8.2 billion in 2025. It took over 4000 years to reach 2 billion but it will take less than 75 years to quadruple that number. Sri lanka’s current population of just over 20 million will grow to 23 million by 2030. People are also surviving longer at all ages and more and more are achieving old age. Increased life expectancy is a Global phenomenon. Correspondingly, due to decease in fertility rates, there is less than the expected numbers of younger people, and the net result is a change in the age distribution pyramid from the familiar broad based, gradually tapering shape as in the mid 60s and before, to one with a relatively narrower base with a “fat” middle (the older people) and a taller shape (because of the persistence of the very old).

 The proportion of elderly people in all countries is increasing. From about 4-10% just 50 years ago to 15-20% now and expected to increase to 25-30% in the mid 2000s. In Sri lanka, there are about 1.9 million over the age of 60 (10%) and this is expected to increase to 4.5 million (25%) by 2040. In America, there are currently around 40 million over 65s compared to 23M just 50 years ago. Within the over 60s, there is a massive increase in the very old. The balance between the older and younger is affected and this will have a significant effect on the care of older people and in the financing of pensions.


More old people and less (proportionately) young people means

       More age associated diseases such as  dementia (Alzheimer’s), cardiovascular diseases,

                degenerative neurological disorders, cancer, arthritis and related disorders, chronic        respiratory disease, other chronic diseases.

       Increase in disability levels in the population

       Less people to support and care for older people.

       Large increases in health and social care costs. 

The burden of Dementia is one of the most worrying concerns for the future. The WHO estimates that worldwide, nearly 35.6 million people live with dementia. This is expected to double by 2030 (65.7 million) and more than triple by 2050 (115.4 million). The vast majority of these will be elderly.

Dementia affects people in all countries, with more than half (58%) living in low- and middle-income countries. By 2050, this is likely to rise to more than 70%. The WHO observes that only eight countries worldwide currently have national programmes in place to address dementia 

This may all sound very negative but there is a more optimistic view to be taken and with greater preparation and anticipation of need, the lives of both the elderly and the young could be enhanced. Older people can have a better quality of life and the young could look forward to a time of fulfilment and relative leisure when they become old. 

Some of the challenges that need to be met are the following. 

(1)    Meeting health, social and housing needs. These are also fuelled by rising expectations, technological advances which are often costly, medical breakthroughs and other factors

(2)    Resourcing  (financial and other)  the demands of an ageing population who consume more resources, with the added factor of a relative decrease  in economically productive young wage earners

(3)    Evolving a society devoid of intergenerational disputes and replete with respect and love - a cohesive, equitable and productive society, with the wisdom and maturity of old age balancing the exuberance of youth. Today’s young are tomorrow’s old, all have a stake. 

These challenges could be met by adopting various measures such as, 

(1)    A major shift in attitudes and perceptions of what it means to progress through life from birth to death, getting rid of the negative image of old age, utilisation of a range of skills and talents of old people set free from the need to pursue active employment, greater involvement in voluntary work, providing support for children and grandchildren.  

(2)    When the retirement age was set years ago, the expectation was that retired people would live on the average about 5 years more before they die according to life expectation at the time. This has changed over the years and at present, retired people can expect to live at least a further 10 years or more. This has major funding implications and current pension arrangements are not sustainable and the concept of retirement needs to be reviewed. The Shakespearean concept of 3 score years and 10 is outmoded and a good model is one of the 3 ages, the first is one of growing up and learning, the second is one of adulthood with employment, marriage and parenthood and the third age is one of gradual withdrawal from active employment with pursuit of leisure. These are blend into each other. 

(3)    Forward planning to meet the demands of a large increase in the number of old people.  

(4)    Change emphasis from a Disease Model to a Preventive model. The aim is to ensure that longevity is matched by a long disability-free period and not by the nightmare scenario of prolonging life by extending the period of disabled life that often precedes death, using the old adage, “add life to years and not years to life”.

(5)    Towards this end, the message that for a healthy old age, living a healthy life when you are young has to be promoted. Among suggested measures are :- 

       control of hypertension,

       attention to a proper diet, weight control

       regular mental and physical exercise

       correction of lipid abnormalities

       smoking cessation

       correction of abnormalities of heart rhythm  such as atrial fibrillation

       Social interventions, e.g., the provision of libraries, heating allowances, free health checks which though needing funding will produce long term savings and benefits.

       Imaginative housing and home care schemes

       incentives such as low cost or free recreational facilities and transport for older people  

(6)    Creative use of new technologies e.g., use of telemedicine, smart homes, house robots.  

(7)    Suitable national and international legislation to protect older people. 

(8)    It is also suggested that we need to rethink our attitude to death and prolongation of life. The largest proportion of the total healthcare budget spent per person is at the end of life.

                Death is as inevitable as life and without death, life cannot be sustained. Death is not a                 failure, accept death with dignity and equanimity.  

In conclusion,  

We have to change the way we think about how we live and progress from birth to death.

We have to re-engineer the concept of retirement

We need to devote more resources towards dementia research

We need to fight against ageism, paternalism. We need to get away from the concept of a World for the Young to a World for All.

We need to harness the immense potential of technology and remain optimistic.