On our recent tour to Jaffna we witnessed the dire consequences of a destructive war. Many children have lost their fathers or mothers. However, it was heart-breaking to hear that the war has brought about an even worse problem for those who survived the savageness of it. Living in camps, most parents have found other partners and deserted their families for good. Many of them have never visited their families ever again. The natural instincts for seeking happiness has taken precedence over their familial bonds.
Chanthiramohan Vithushan’s father has either given up on them or nowhere to be found. Vithushan and his mother live amidst many difficulties; their daily survival, let alone education is a huge question mark to them. With the new bike, Vithushan can now have a new start to his trips for education and other purposes. Although, a bike may not mean much to most of us, who are fortunate enough, it means a world to them. From schooling to buying daily supplies, most of them are walking 3-4 kilometres to reach their destinations.
Denihiya’s story is not much different to Vithushan. Not only she lost her father to a new family, but also does not have a place of her own. Now the family lives in one of their relative’s places (pictured below). Her daily voyage to school was an arduous exercise. Now with a bicycle, she can make a quick trip to school and back home.
Shanthamohan Roshani and her family (pictured above) live in this small hut. Torrential rains can take away their sleep or force them to have sleepovers elsewhere in the neighbourhood. Like many other children, she had lost her father and mother both. She and her sister is taken care of by the grandmother, who for most jobs is not suitable due to her age. None of these challenges have taken a dent on their will to learn and get educated and become productive citizens of their respective communities. Roshani aspires to become a teacher one day.
K Nilojan (pictured below) is a 10 year old very bright kid who wants to beat all the odds to become an Engineer one day. Losing his father or his home to the brutal war has not made Nilojan feel sorry about himself. His courage and enthusiasm was all evident in the way he greeted us with a smile at his doorstep.
It was a great visit for all of us – to see the joy of these kids of owning a new bike was well worth the efforts. As these children march on to reach their life goals, we invite everyone to be a part of their success. After all, every great journey has begun with a single step.