THE GLOBAL VOLUNTEERING NETWORK
HELP A PEACE HERO
Quick Summary: A response that led to helping out a remarkable individual who had been a victim of the Sri Lankan civil war, along with their family, gain employment and improved housing.
We have become used to hearing about heroes and victims of war. They are indeed worthy of our consideration. But are these groups really exclusive of one another? What about victims of war who become heroes of peace. This appeal is about one such hero whose fight for a decent life is an inspiration to everybody.
It would be very difficult not to be stuck by the genuinely warm smile of Sasikumar as he greets guests at one of the new three-star hotels Sri Lanka’s renowned Nilaveli Beach. Sasikumar, cutting a tall, smart figure, seems to epitomise the new found hope and confidence of Sri Lanka, as it emerges from almost 30 years of bloody violence that had claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Sasikumar clearly values his employment as a receptionist. It provides him with the means to look after his family of six, two parents and three younger siblings, who have all made the brave decision to return to the country of their birth, having spent 19 years in India (from 1990 to 2009) as refugees displaced by the war that was raging in Sri Lanka. The inevitable obstacles that came with such displacement did not deter him from gaining a BSc in Microbiology, with a first class classification, from Bharathidashan University in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, in 2006, which held the promise of fulfilling his childhood dream of working for the wellbeing of his fellow citizens, while improving the living conditions of his own family. Given this remarkable achievement, he could not be faltered for feeling dejected by the circumstances he has to endure today. Yet, that is far from the case: though he seems distinctly overqualified for his current job, there is absolutely no resentment in Sasikumar; he is just happy to be gainfully employed.
When representatives of MegaReach (www.megareach.org ) came across Sasikumar, it was only by chance that we got to know of the sadness that is so well hidden by that smile. Having overcome so many cruel ironies, today Sasikumar is fighting a seemingly insurmountable battle: his brother is in need of urgent cardiac surgery. Though Sri Lanka has a very good health system that is free at the point of care, it has extremely long waiting lists. That means many more years of suffering. The alternative is to find means to pay for private care, even though the costs are prohibitively high. Even one hundredth of the sum required to pay for such an intervention was beyond the fortunes of his family.
Remarkably, that was only one part of the problem. He only came to reveal the abject poverty of his family’s circumstances when we probed for further details. From the time the family made the brave decision to return to Sri Lanka in 2009, right at the end of the cessation of hostilities, they had to live in temporary accommodation under a thatched roof that leaked constantly. In early 2016, they managed to raise a loan to build some walls around the structure, as the first step towards building a more sustainable facility. Though the “house” lacks doors or windows and in devoid of electricity and running water, Sasikumar is quick to point out, with customary optimism, that the government had kindly gifted them a sanitary facility a few months ago. The cruel irony of the situation was that this effort towards self-improvement actually disqualified them from being awarded a shelter under the many rehousing schemes that are taking place in the area: Sasikumar’s family were deemed to be in suitable permanent accommodation. Again, Sasikumar has no objections about that. The others, he points out, were in a far worse situation than his own family; “thankfully, I have a job” he says smilingly.
Sasikumar’s family clearly deserves better. We at MegaReach believe Sasikumar represents a wonderful opportunity to practically demonstrate the benevolence Sri Lankans are well known for. What better way to underline the beauty of ethnic harmony than reward a family who risked their lives for it, in spite of all they endured as a result of ethnic conflict.
There are two main ways we could come together to help his family.
One is to find a way to help his brother have surgery. Perhaps the best hope is to repeat the model we adopted when presented with a girl in similar circumstances in 2015. As described under the “Cardiac Surgery” tab in the “Completed Projects” section of this website , we got together a full team of medical specialists to perform that life-saving surgery free of charge. Could you help find a similar team of philanthropists?
The other is to help renovate the family dwelling, complete with electricity and running water. This should be just the type of medium=scale project for a group of people who want to make a real difference to society.
Please circulate this message among everyone, anyone you feel may be able to help. We at MegaReach are happy to coordinate the effort, if you want us to. If not, we will gladly share the contact details of Sasikumar, so that you may get in touch with him directly. We actually encourage potential benefactors to do so, as that may help identify the many ways in which we could help this family’s struggle to improve their circumstances. Please help us bring light to this family.