Galle, Sri Lanka


Photographer: Brett Davies

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Hemaloka Thero is senior monk at the Sri Sudharmalaya Buddhist Temple in Galle, a city in southern Sri Lanka. He has lived there for almost thirty years, offering people his guidance on how to live good, peaceful and meaningful lives. He has two students, young monks who began studying with him as small boys after he promised their parents he would raise and teach them until he drew his last breath. Each day, early in the morning and before noon, Hemaloka and his two pupils eat food given to them by people from local villages and a nearby town. As they eat, Hemaloka teaches them the principles he believes are important for their future. First, he says, improve your mind by listening, learning and studying. Second, give yourself to the people; help those who need guidance, especially those who are disadvantaged. Third, respect all people, regardless of their religion, race or position in life. Hemaloka learned these principles from his master. He hopes that one day his students will in turn pass them on to another generation of monks.