The world, classified as per societies unfortunate standards and directives, consists of the “haves” and the “have nots.” The criteria which classifies each individual into one or the other is vastly subjective.
If I were to ask you to classify yourself as a have or a have not, I would assume that the mere fact that you do not own the latest I Phone or the trendiest and latest fashion outfit would make you think of yourself as a have not. I know I would. Society would.
Consider for a moment a scenario in which you had to long for a pair of shoes to wear to school, or a book in which to write your school notes. Sadly, I would find it rather difficult to ever imagine myself in such a situation, hypothetical though it may be. Is it the lottery of birth which denies or grants us the luxuries in which we live? What then of those who in reality long for a set of books to take to school? Are they the have not’s? Or are we? What makes us equal other than the fact that we human?
Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the greatest equalizer of the conditions of men, – the balance-wheel of the social machinery.
As part of our commitment to the sustainability of this equalizer, the Rotaract Club of General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University took up the charge of helping, supporting and promoting education among the students from grades 9 to 11 of Kuleegoda Sumana Vidyalaya, Ambalangoda, through the project titled “Sisu Saviya,” an annual project of the Club. The chairpersons for the Sisu Saviya project 2016 were Rtr. Renzie Thajudeen and Rtr. Ranishka Ratnasekara.
The students of Kuligoda Sumana Vidyalaya, Ambalangoda were nothing but smiles when we arrived at the humble school in the early morn of the 24th of October 2016. Students from grades 1 to 11 were accommodated at the school, and inquisitive eyes followed us as we unpacked boxes from the bus. A warm welcome awaited us at the main hall which was filled on that day with 60 students from grades 9 and 10. The members of the club were seated nervously on the stage as we were unaccustomed to such honorable recognition and treatment. The principal of the school as well as a head teacher addressed the gathering and 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 whispers and chatter echoed through the hall as the students stared longingly at the boxes, wondering what could be inside. I couldn’t help thinking then of how beautiful life would be if we could be content with the simple things.
The president of the club Rtr. Kushan Yapa addressed the gathering and emphasized on the fact that what we had for them in those boxes, although small in value, would someday be invaluable to them depending on the choices they made in their life. He also went on to state that there was no such thing as haves and have not’s, although society would seem to think so. Regardless of what we lacked in life, should we chose to make this an excuse we would fail. He stressed on the value of education and how each and every student in that hall could be anyone they wanted to be, should they chose to work towards it. The students listed intently with smiles on their faces as he spoke on, and when the moment came for the distribution of the little gifts inside the boxes, the happiness in the air could be felt even to the weariest of souls. The students lined up eagerly and gratefully accepted the neatly wrapped bundle of exercise books we handed out to them.
The next part of the day was to focus on the students of the school sitting for the Ordinary Level Examination. They were handed out past papers and a seminar was conducted in order to help them with their exam which was only a month away. The students treated us as equals, addressing us as “akki” and “ayya” which created a sense of comrade amongst us all.
The project Sisu Saviya, unlike any other project done by the Club, helped us rather than it helped those we intended to help. Rotaract has thought me to never be surprised by the lessons one could learn from those we so wrongly fully call the “less privileged.” I often find myself wondering as to what privilege really means. Is it having everything one could want? Or is it having nothing and feeling no want? We often lose the small joys in life, the little contentment’s, in the hope of bigger happiness.
Consider once again a scenario in which you had to long for a pair of shoes to wear to school, or a book in which to write your school notes….