Internationally renowned business coach Tony Achmat died on May 23, 2018.
To many of you, he was the life-changing dynamo of a guy who helped you develop your business, score million-dollar contracts or advance in your career. To us, he was a personal friend and collaborator. His retirement plan was to move permanently to Sri Lanka, live with the family of Kumar Fernando, help them expand their business, and start an English school for Sri Lankan children. Later on he hoped to build an educational center/resort for Westerners, where people could come for yoga sessions and soft skill trainings.
Tony died literally days before a plane was to take him to that new life in Sri Lanka. In previous stays he had set everything in motion - the school was being reconstructed, the family house was refurbished and a new annex added for Tony. From the money earned by the school, Tony expected to buy Kumar a boat to run river cruises for tourists, expanding his small tuk-tuk touring operations to a new level.Tony only came back to Prague to close his business after 27 years and say goodbye to his friends. He sold or just gave away all his possessions. His apartment was as empty as his bank account, having given all he had to others prior to his Australian pension arriving.
While his sudden death was a shock to us all, it had deeper consequences in Sri Lanka. For several months now, much was left unfinished and the money invested into the school reconstruction (including pre-paid rent) was lost. The family who welcomed Tony with open arms now undertook a series of considerable personal expenses for three separate Buddhist vigils, as the religion demands for a happy hereafter. The dream of expanding the tour business stands in limbo.
Tony was a force of nature, a man who couldn’t stop himself helping others, so we decided it’s time to give something back and, to whatever degree we can manage, continue his legacy. We ask all of you who benefited from Tony’s advice and presence in your life to join us in a one-off effort to generate funds for his "family” in Sri Lanka. We can’t fulfill all of Tony’s dreams, but we can make sure that the family he came to call his own is safe, secure and has the chance to develop further in their collective future.
As you may or may not know, Tony was born in Indonesia and grew up in a Catholic orphanage in Australia. We had the opportunity to witness how much this “adopted” family in Sri Lanka meant to him. He called Kumar “son” and Radeesha and Vihanga his “grandchildren.” He invented ways to ease daily life for Nadeesha, who is a cancer survivor--from teaching her easier and faster recipes to buying her a sewing machine.
His efforts to help his new family and the general community had a ripple effect. He quickly became “Papa,” a renowned figure in the town and the head of a family clan of 160 people. This was no small deal. Tony believed in hands-on charity and he considered the Fernando family an epicenter of improvement and prosperity that automatically expands, thanks to their pure hearts and generosity. They deserved his help, because they never failed to offer and share it, nor to learn and spread positive energy. This is not about helping a family you don't even know, it's about enabling Tony’s ripple effect in the future.
There are many things we can accomplish, depending on the amount raised – from buying Kumar a new computer (and ensuring appropriate training) to getting the small boat Tony planned for river cruises. Such a boat would cost approximately 60,000 CZK (2,330 EUR). Tony had already pre-arranged a dock landing at a popular riverside restaurant. That boat is available and the tourist season begins there in November. So yes, there is an urgency to this.
Ideally, we’d like to also provide continual English training for Kumar, his wife Nadeesha and their two children. So far, most of their English skills came from Tony’s personal efforts and English is critical for their future.
Jim must fly to Sri Lanka to be sure all this happens properly, another 15,000 Czech crowns.There is no way that "Uncle Jim" could replace their beloved "Papa," but at least he can make sure everything meets Western quality standards.
There is much to be done, just to wrap up what Tony began. Let’s roll up our sleeves, pull out our wallets and do something that will make Tony’s spirit smile.
Remember what he used to say? “God has no hands but ours!”
Jim and Michaela Freeman
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Feel free to enter any amount you wish or select an amount with a reward - prints of Tony's zentangle art.
Just before he died, Tony completed a set of illustrations for the Value Anatomy project, on which we collaborated. 56 animals were chosen to represent essential human values. In the end, these four were replaced with other archetypal beasts, so these beautiful drawings will never be published. Tony's Value Anatomy set will be used for books, cards and other presentations. These four will only be available through this campaign as small thank-you gifts to our donors.
- Tony wrote an article about his hands-on philanthropy in Sri Lanka for the Slovak magazine United Life
- Michaela wrote an article for their Value Anatomy project on the day Tony died. The site also contains bios of Tony, Jim and Michaela in the Our Team section.
- Kumar's Sri Lanka tour business has a website Tony helped him build, as well as an impressive Facebook page, complete with client photos. If you ever go to Sri Lanka - you surely know now who's your guide :-)