All over the world, society is divided into the privileged & under privileged classes. In a country, where a caste system existed up until recently & in some parts of the country, still do up to date, this division is seen clearly. Education is a tool that ensures that despite our origins, there is a possibility of reaching greater heights. Knowledge is power & this particular power lets you overcome many obstacles in life. Many children cannot receive the basic education that is given freely to them due to either lack of supplies or other livelihood conditions, preventing them from receiving their education.
As part of our commitment to maintaining this tool & allowing greater access to many more young children, the Rotaract Club of General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University took up the task of supplying much needed stationary & also various other key necessities. As an annual project of the club, “Sisu Saviya” took up the initiative to distribute books, stationary, shoes & bags among the students from grades 1 to 11 of Mediwala Vijaya Vidyalaya, Boossa, Galle, with the aim of easing at least a small part of their burden.
The chairpersons for the Sisu Saviya project 2017 were Rtr. Harith Samarasinghe & Rtr. Senuri Gunetilleke. The young students of Mediwala Vijaya Vidyalaya were waiting eagerly, with a simple bouquet of anthurium flowers, to welcome us as we arrived on the morning of 06th of December 2017. Students from the smallest grade 1 child to the teenage grade 11s were neatly lined up in anticipation & many little inquisitive eyes followed us, as we unpacked box after box from the bus.
A warm welcome awaited us at the main hall which was decorated simply & filled on that day, with students as well as their parents. The members of the club were seated nervously on the stage, as we were unaccustomed to such honorable positions of seating. The program kickstarted with the recital of the traditional buddhist ‘gaatha’. The Principal of the school as well as the Vice Principal addressed the gathering & doused the student’s curiosity by affirming that we had indeed visited them to gift them with whatever it was that lay inside the boxes. Excited chatter echoed through the hall as the students stared longingly at the boxes, wondering what could be inside, especially the younger students. It was a humbling sight to see such contentment on their faces with such simple gifts. If only the whole world could be that content with the simple things in life.
Our project chairperson, Rtr. Harith, addressed the gathering & emphasized the importance of school life & its value, reminiscing about his own school memories. He also stressed that although school is primarily for gaining knowledge, it most certainly is not limited to that & the friends & memories that one makes during school stays with us for life. Next the president of the club, Rtr. Ravindu Jayakody,!addressing the gathering, especially the parents gathered, hoped, that what we had for them in those boxes would help ease the burden, at least in the slightest. He pointed out that we as children, must recognize the sacrifices made for us by our parents on our behalf. He also emphasized that we couldn’t have done it alone without the tremendous help given by students of the university & all the well wishers. The importance of education was emphasized & how it was necessary to move forward in life. Although there was some shuffling around, the attention was focused on our president & there was a clear eagerness to receive the goods that were brought. Subsequently the students eagerly lined up & gratefully accepted the neatly wrapped bundle of exercise books we handed out to them along with the schoolbags that were handed out to the younger grade students. After the delivering of the goods, a young grade 08 student, delivered the Vote of Thanks in Sinhala & was followed by another young boy who delivered the Vote of Thanks in English. It was a delight to see, that they have shown a keen interest in developing & being well versed in both our mother tongue & the secondary link language.
The project Sisu Saviya, was different from the rest of the projects done by the Club, due to the fact that it helped open our eyes. I believe it helped put in perspective exactly how privileged & lucky we are. Through Rotaract I believe I have learned many valuable lessons, but this by far has been an eye opener to the hardships faced in life & how sometimes, we do complain for things that may not be so relevant. We often measure our happiness by the material things we may or may not have such as the latest smartphone or fashion wardrobe, but there are those who simply long the necessities in life.
We must always keep in mind there are those who are longing for the simplest of pleasures in life, those fortunes we take for granted. Imagine a turn of events, where you are left longing for a new book for the new year or a pair of shoes…
Article by Editor, Rtr. Chayangi Kannangara