Miracles: An Angel’s visit to tea bushes
I belong to a home to hundreds of lush tea plantations in Nuwereliya, Sri Lanka. I grew up watching women just as my mother walking along long treacherous roads, encountering venomous snakes to take their children to schools, hospitals and markets and relied on the politically corrupt trade unions to resolve labor issues. Males were often arrested and remanded on suspicion as LTTE terrorists or their sympathizers during conflict. Young girls were often vulnerable for sexual harassments by male authoritative roles. Our social status and Tamil ethnicity has ensured that our plight has been continuously ignored for generations. Though we toiled on the Tea plantations to make the state prosperous under gruelling and inhuman conditions our basic needs as health, electricity, transportation, safe drinking water and rights as citizens voting and citizenship were denied. We led a life of slavery and were treated as commodities. The estate authorities and men were skeptical of the use of literacy to young girls as me; they worried about the possible social outcomes if educated women gain power over their lives and turn towards white collar jobs. Girls were married off at a young age. I realized that there is no escape from the vicious circle of the highest level of exploitation unless I receive higher education. I was determined to sit for the entrance exam, while working on the fields. I could not compel my mother, the only bread winner to send me to a school as I knew that she was always living on the edge and any loss of wages although a dollar per day means imminent starvation. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would get selected to a school. Now, I wanted to act. I believed if only I can share the kind of education I received with my people who are living under abysmal conditions then something would change. After school, I conducted Basic English and Mathematics classes to my friends and their mothers. This would strengthen household economies and give a voice to the underrepresented women within my community. I wanted to help them in formal transactions and analyze printed material. To read and question newspapers, slogans, and instructions on medications, signs and prices at markets, and sign contracts. I want my communtiy women to be empowered and given dignity that ensures their participation and leadership in the development of the community at large by the government.