As they say, not all heroes wear capes.
Some are ordinary people with no stars in their eyes – they do what they have been doing and don’t think big of their achievements.
Yet, those achievements have changed lives, transformed people and empowered others to go where no one has gone before.
They come from everyday ranks. They rise above the pettiness of race, religion and creed.
They are heroes because they are humble enough to acknowledge that they have made a difference – for all the right reasons.
Hiruni Nadeeshani is one such young woman who believed in a child with special needs. She was the teacher who together with his mother who never gave up on her son, turned him around – who had the conviction to teach a differently abled child to excel in an exam used to evaluate talented children across Sri Lanka.
A teacher at the school where the parents enrolled Ramal, a child with special needs in order to help him fit in with average children, Hiruni, along with other teachers, took him under her wing.
Together, they coached a child with speech and comprehension difficulties, giving him the confidence to sit for the Grade Five Scholarship exam and pass with flying colors.
In a Facebook post, Hiruni shared an emotion packed message – when she asked Ramal what he wanted as a present for passing the exam well, he told her in sign language that all he wants is a heart.
When she asked him what his position was in the exam, he smiled and said he was No 01 – in sign language.
If he could speak, he would have spoken volumes.
Words fail me as I write this.
This child and this teacher both came from an under-privileged school in need of many facilities, Karagampitiya Wijaya School.
Today, as her post about Ramal’s success went viral, the school and its star pupil and the teacher who never have up, have become a talking point, with many offering to help the school.
There are more heroes whose courage and commitment brought out the best in humanity during the same Grade Five Scholarship exam.
Umer Ahamath is a ten year old Muslim boy attending a school in Chilaw where he lives. He studies in the Sinhala medium. He scored 196 marks in the scholarship exam, bringing credit to his school and to the entire Chilaw district. Everyone in his town are proud of the little boy’s achievements.
There’s nothing remotely racial or religious about talent and skill. Umer has shown us that.
There are more heroes.
The Kaddupulam Govt Mixed School in Chankanai, Jaffna recorded a Year Five Scholarship success – after 35 years.
S.Thabishran of Kaddupulam passed the Grade 5 scholarship exam with 179 marks at a school without access to resources.
The smile on his face speaks volumes for the joy he and his family, his teachers and his school, feel in registering such a success.
He comes from a school that is functioning amidst numerous needs – for resources, for teachers and for facilities.
There are others heroes too.
The children who sit the scholarship exam often seek better schools, ones with more resources and opportunities.
The majority come from rural villages and are tremendously talented – their stories should inspire us everyday.
Their stories should empower the rest of us, the parents and the students from schools with plenty of resources and facilities, to appreciate and be thankful for what we have and often enough, take for granted.
From Ramal to Umer, Thabishran and the others who have gone on to score high in a competitive exam, it is the first taste of success in their pursuit to be given access to a better education.
They are the future of Sri Lanka. Their stories should drive us all to do something bigger and better than what we are doing now.
They never complained of what they didn’t have – instead, they made the best use of what they had to achieve results that make us all proud of them – and the future.
May their tribe increase.