Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne is the Founder and the President Emeritus of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka, a grass-roots humanitarian organization based on the concept of ‘sharing of labour, thought and energy for the awakening of all’. Sarvodaya has been active throughout Sri Lanka since 1958 despite numerous hardships it has faced over the years.
Born in 1931 in the South of Sri Lanka, Dr. Ariyaratne had his primary education in the village school, secondary education at Mahinda College, Galle, and his higher education at Vidyodaya University. He started his teaching career at Nalanda College, Colombo, and while still a teacher there he took forty high school students and twelve teachers on an educational tour to an outcaste village. During this memorable visit, Dr. Ariyaratne guided his students and fellow teachers along his vision of sharing labour, thought and energy with the villagers and helped them develop their village. This first shramadana work camp marked the beginning of the Sarvodaya Sharamadana Movement.