Anula Ratnayaka, 49, spent 10 years as a caregiver in Israel before she was murdered by Hamas terrorists in the October 7 assault on Kibbutz Be’eri.
The Sri Lanka Daily News reported that Anula was shot dead after managing to hide Ettie Morado, the Israeli woman she was taking care of.
The report stated that “the elderly woman of the house who was rescued has said, ‘I am blind. Anula was my eyes. She hid me under the bed and went forward to see what was happening.’”
On October 28, Anula’s body was repatriated to Sri Lanka and was buried in the north Colombo suburb of Kelaniya, India Today reported.
In a Facebook post, Nimisha K Varghese wrote: “We have been 5 years of friendship. You are my best friend who I can run to and talk to without an introduction… language or country was not a barrier… you have been my best friend since I came to Kibutz Be’eri… I will never forget you… thank you for everything, for loving me, For all the support and everything.”
In the Facebook post, Anula can be seen in photos hanging out with friends at a branch of the “Golda” ice cream chain in Israel, and in what appears to be the very familiar surroundings of a kibbutz assembly hall.
The news site BNN Breaking wrote that Anula was a resident of the town of Eriyawetiya “whose hopes for a better life were tragically cut short miles away from home on foreign soil.”
The article referred to Anula as an “island daughter in the heart of the conflict.” It stated that Anula was “not merely a statistic” in the bloodshed of an intractable conflict, but rather, “she was a 49-year-old mother of two who worked tirelessly for a decade in Israel, far from the familiar landscapes of her hometown, Eriyawetiya.”
The article added, “in the grand scheme of war, Ratnayake may represent a single life lost, but she also stands as a poignant emblem of the cost of conflict.”
On October 25, a memorial was held in Petach Tikva for Anula. Friends and loved ones — Israelis, Sri Lankans and others from points beyond — came to pay their respects.
In a Facebook post, Israeli Efrat Vaknin spoke of her love for Anula, who took care of her late mother-in-law Aliza before her death a few years ago. Efrat wrote that even after Aliza died they would drive down to Be’eri to visit Anula and Etti, the elderly woman she took care of. Efrat wrote that Anula is the one who set up the WhatsApp group “Family” and that “we were a family in every way.”
Efrat wrote of a woman who loved people and life and always put others before herself. She also wrote that she misses the messages from Anula on Fridays wishing her “Shabbat Shalom” and the sweetness she spread to all who crossed her path.
“We can’t send you pictures and videos of [Efrat’s child] Cleo, and you won’t send me pictures of your trips around the kibbutz and kibbutz events, and we won’t be able to drink your tea or the delicious cookies you made. We can’t hug you anymore… Anula, we miss you so much.”
Yael Gilboa, Aliza’s niece, also eulogized Anula as “devoted and with a heart of gold, she also took care of the cats in the yard, and probably also birds and other creatures… We grieve with Anula’s family and friends and send them our condolences. She will not be forgotten.”