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Ms. Deloraine Brohier
 

"This communication is on the "hot line" for special and happy news concerning Ms. Deloraine Brohier, President of The Dutch Burgher Union of Sri Lanka

 
On 26 April 2002 she was conferred the honour of Knight of the Order of Oranje-Nassau bestowed on the occasion of the Official Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen of The Netherlands, Queen Beatrix.

 

A simple ceremony took place at the residence of the Ambassador of The Netherlands, in Colombo, on the evening of Friday 26 April 2002.
 
What was most touching is that her father, the late Dr R.L.Brohier, received the honour of Officer of the Order of Oranje-Nassau (which is a notch higher in the Royal Order), in l979.  Extremely rare is it, she is told, that a daughter follows a father in being granted recognition in this prestigious Royal Order.

 

Associated with her in this year's Dutch Honours Order List with the same award is Dr K.D. Paranavitharne, former Assistant Government Archivist a scholar in archival Dutch and a writer.
 
Looking back ....... Daily Mirror Thu Aug 25 2004
 

R. L. Brohier's daughter talks about growing up in old Ceylon
By Marcus Doherty
 

I had the pleasure of visiting Deloraine Brohier at her home in Colombo. It was my first encounter with the author of The Saga of the Colombo Club and I immediately found her to be a very interesting and refined woman with an air of youthfulness.


After receiving a very hospitable welcome, Deloraine began talking about her childhood and her concerns for children today. She believes her varied life was a direct result of the environment in which she grew up. Her father Richard Leslie Brohier was instrumental in her writing career and her love of travelling. She said; “I was always encouraged to write and explore Sri Lanka’s countryside. I was always learning about wildlife, customs and about all kinds of flowers. Nowadays children are left in front of a television with no guidance or input other than what comes through the box. Children grow but grow without guidance – we never had a television or even a radio growing up.”
 

Her ancestry is clear from the moment you enter the living area, which has many ornaments and artefacts of a Dutch tradition. Deloraine belongs to a group of Sri Lankans known as ‘Burghers’. Her family is of a Huguenot-French decent – the first of the Brohiers having arrived in Sri Lanka in 1777.
 

Deloraine’s father worked for the Survey Department and continually moved between outposts, when he wasn’t based in Colombo. The family was travelling from post to post where she said her education began. “My parents would not let us children sleep when we travelled. My mother Werkmeister Pansy, was a teacher and she would be pointing out flowers and wildlife to us on the roadside, while my father would draw our attention to landmarks and tell us the story of battles long ago,” said Deloraine. “Seeing through the eyes of my parents opened up a real vista, we were gradually awakened to an education of observation,” she explained.
 

Deloraine graduated in 1950 from University Ceylon, Colombo and enjoyed a short stint as a teacher until she decided teaching was not for her and became a scriptwriter at Radio Ceylon, eventually moving into broadcasting.
 

“I really enjoyed my time there, it was a good experience” she reflected, adding “the work, places, people were all very interesting and of great value for my next job at the United Nations”.
 

It was the mid 1970’s when she worked for the UN in New York City, where she used the opportunity to travel, visiting Boston, Oregon and Florida. It was a habit ingrained in her since childhood and a trait of her father.
 

Her father was born in Colombo and left school to enrol at technical college where he studied surveying. With hard work, perseverance and a helpful word from D.S Senanayake, the then Minister of Lands and Land Development, he made his breakthrough into the Survey Office as Supernumerary Surveyor in 1910. His talent was not to go unnoticed, dipping yet again into his reserves of energy and determination he gradually climbed the ladder and by 1933 was the Superintendent of Surveys. It was during this period that he commenced writing his work on Ancient Irrigation Works in Ceylon – the first volume he completed inside three months. Two more were to follow and the writings remain the most highly regarded source on the subject.
 

He was not only a talented writer, his thirst for knowledge was limitless. He was also critical of the way people explored the deep jungle and countryside of the island.

“My father would walk into deep jungle and pitch a tent, staying there for days” said Deloraine. “He would spend his time exploring, writing about the wildlife and the vegetation and would speak to villagers and local Buddhist monks. I remember sitting with some village people in the thick jungle and how hospitable they were to us,” recalled Deloraine.
 

“He had such enthusiasm, he once found old picture plates of Dutch furniture, so he preserved them and published them in a book called ‘Furniture of the Dutch Period in Ceylon’.” His journeys into the forests and jungles also led to books entitled “Seeing Ceylon” and “Food and the People”.
 

Richard Brohiers illustrious career continued even until after his retirement. His achievements in the role of Assistant to the Surveyor General, and his appointment to act as the Deputy Surveyor General during the late 1940’s, prompted D.S Senanayake to make a special request. In 1950 he accepted the invitation to serve as a Member on the Gal Oya Development Board.
 

When Deloraine returned to Sri Lanka from her work with the UN, the minister of tourism invited her on the board of directors, a seat she occupied for nine years.
 

Like her father she was also awarded the Order of Oranje-Nassau. Deloraine continues in her role as woman president of the Dutch Burger Union and her desire for travel is still thriving.
 

The account of her life, as well as her father’s can prompt a person to reflect on their own life. Her story serves as a worthy reminder as how detrimental television and a sheltered existence can be to a child and conversely, how educational the world outside remains.