Friday, October 3, 2008
a story of life in transition from rural to urban
A boy from Ratmale, left school and reached 18 in May, and followed a few courses in computing in the area. I gave him a PC to enhance his knowledge, and then he pressed me into getting him a job in Colombo to further his skills and get out of the village, where he would otherwise have had either to farm, join the forces or the home guard, or do manual work like brick making or rock quarrying or sand mining, or offer himself as a day laborer.
I managed through friends to place him in a job, repairing and maintaining computers and peripherals, where he has to go to different locations to carry out this work. For the first 6 months when he will receive training his monthly allowance is Rs6,500. I agreed to provide him lodging free, but he has to find his own food and pay for his traveling and clothes.
This is the first time he has left the comfort of his own home, and has now to learn to fend for himself, something he has never done before. He has to find his own food, and now realizes the cost of eating out and expense of clothing as well as traveling. While I agree the allowance is not sufficient for this he has somehow got to learn to manage, if he is to get to the next level and get a training which will make him more marketable and earn a real living. I recall the day when I began working and how difficult the first three years was in order to survive, as I had to pay almost two thirds or my net salary just for the room rent.
I don’t want to see him give up due to these short-term difficulties. He needs resilience to realize that the sacrifice today will pay dividends in the future. Without the close family, he has been used to all his life, except for his mother, who had abandoned the family shortly after his birth, he has to fight his battles on his own and grow up fast. I have done my best to cushion him from the molly coddling at home to the harsh realities of long commutes and city life.
In addition to his struggle, he also has to cope with the petty jealousies of people in the village he comes from, not wanting to see him succeed even though they do not see the hardship he has to undergo just to live from day to day. Sinhala people have a very bad characteristic of not wanting see a neighbor succeed and do all in their power to prevent success. Discouragement is the evil he has to face when he goes home.