Friday, October 14, 2016

Madushan’s journey – A reality check – a true story

As if to illustrate similarities and differences in the paths people take in life, let me relate a true story, so that my proposal for a 8 week mentoring program in my previous blog entry can be put in perspective.

While in my blog entry I alluded to a 50% success rate, that is yet unproven, and varies with time, and was for discussion purposes only. It can be more or less, depending on how the program proper is designed, executed and evaluated over time.

In the case of Madushan who left school TEN years ago, with NO O levels except in Art, and who over this whole period, I have helped in placing advising and encouraging he is now 26years still with no success UNTIL!

His only perceived skill, I was aware of was in Art and Sculpture, and he got a bicycle in school for winning some kind of art competition. There are few opportunities to excel in this field, unless one is able to be mentored and trained by professionals specifically to develop this latent talent. There was no way he could enter a college of Fine Arts!

He has worked over the years, as a House Boy in Colombo, in numerous Hotels in Colombo and in the Polonnaruwa District, with little success, where he dropped out for silly reasons of clashes where he had perceived that he was being used by others more experienced and with more years of service. He even had a stint in Dubai cleaning supermarkets after hours, none of which led to a permanent work ethic. Nothing seemed to go his way, a wondering wanderer!

In the middle of all this he had also suffered a nervous breakdown, when some girl friend (in reality a professional con artist) in Colombo, taking advantage of his innocence, duped him of all his savings in one shot, and disappeared never to be heard of from again.

Last month when I was again trying to fix him with a hotel job, which he could go for within a 25 minute bus ride from his home here in Ratmale, Minneriya, where he had already been for a first interview, he had BY CHANCE walked into a vehicle body tinkering shop by the side of the road, in Hingurakgoda, not far from his home here, and asked the owner if there was any work. The owner, perhaps needing a hand with some work he had, took a chance and asked him to give it a try, and see how he could fare, not promising any payment at first!

He only had one other staff, who had not turned up for work, but who had some experience in this field. Madushan was shown the basics of the first stage in preparing the surfaces of a repair and asked to try his hand.

This boy who was on a high dose of psychiatric drugs, who could barely get up before 9am, has NOW worked 40 consecutive days of his own volition, and shown a mastery for the work, so much so, that despite him being told initially that he will just be given, travelling and lunch money to get to work, during his apprentice period, now earns Rs1000 a day.

He lives with his father, who does not have a job either, being too frail to work, and would be considered extremely poor, barely being able to scrape the money to pay for the drugs, where he goes to consult a specialist in Kandy once a month to have a blood test taken and review his medicines and get a new prescription for the following month.

You can imagine my surprise when he turned up in a Hero Honda 125cc that looks new being well maintained with 80K km clock, which he had just bought for Rs60,000 from a one owner in Hingurakgoda. I did not ask him yet how he financed it, but I know he will have paid for it in full within a few months.

Now he is up by 6.30 and out of the house by 7.30 and occasionally comes late when work demands it, and for someone who had shivering hands due to the strength of the drugs like lithium he took, now does not either seem to have a tremble or any problem in waking, nor is the worse for wear!

If he is able to keep this up, and graduate and take on the contract work that comes, he will be well set in a year or two. His workshop turns down at least 5 jobs a day, due to the work load, and seems to be an extremely lucrative line of work, that can earn for a fully trained operator, Rs200K a month, with their eyes closed. Even collision repair business from insurance companies are referred to them.

I ask, could this skill have been identified 10 years ago, when he left school? Will my program help him do that? I don’t know. However if it did, he would now be the master of his own universe, being considered one of the most admired in the village! From being one of the least!

Of course as this story shows, there is luck on the way, timing must be right, and the stars all aligned in your favor. In short, FATE. However you cannot wait for something to fall into your lap, YOU MUST GO AND FIND IT YOURSELF.  

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