Before his father’s death, Masilamany was living a happy, normal life. Like most children, he attended school and played with his friends. However, after this tragic event, his life took a different direction. As a farmer, his father was the family’s breadwinner and his untimely death, unfortunately, created a series of difficulties for the entire family, which put them in a dire situation. Food and money became scarce and that meant they would be forced to survive on only one meal a day. They would also go without provisions for clothes or shoes and for the foreseeable future, they would be wearing the old tattered clothes and worn shoes they owned. The family started to lose hope.
As the first born child, Masilamany dropped out of school and took on the role of the breadwinner for the family.
At the young age of 12, he had yet learned any technical skills and was left to do hard physical labor. However, at this time Sri Lanka was engaged in a civil war which compounded the family’s problems and hindered their potential for economic growth. Masilamany’s mother decided that in order to survive, the family had to leave their native village and seek a safer place to live. They found themselves in a refugee camp where there too, it was hard to secure work to provide for the needs of the family. Their poverty intensified to the point where they found it necessary to give the youngest child away in marriage as they were unable to feed her.
When Sri Lanka’s civil war came to an end and the family returned to their village, they found their house destroyed. The family built a temporary shelter using tin sheets and Masilamany resumed his back-breaking job as a day laborer and the family continued to struggle to make ends meet.
It was not until 2016 when CERI came to his village offering a series of workshops encouraging youth to participate in life skills trainings and vocational training that things started to change for Masilamany and his family. In an effort to recuperate some of the learning he lost when dropping out of school, Masilamany decided to participate. His hopes and dreams, that died years ago when his father passed, started coming back. As his skillset grew, he became more positive and it became evident that he had great leadership abilities. Masilamany learned to focus on the needs of his community as a whole, unlike before when he focused only on the needs of his immediate family. He saw the importance of working together to restore hope and he encouraged other youth to join the CERI Transitional Care program. His emerging leadership abilities did not go unnoticed and community members started to look to Masilamany to address conflicts or difficulties in the village when they happen to arise.
CERI was there for Masilamany with life skills, counseling, encouragement and vocational training. Now, at 22 years of age, he is a man, a dedicated Christian spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Sri Lanka.
Although he experienced the death of a parent, the severities of war, displacement and the devastating effects of hunger and lack of opportunity, Masilamany is firmly convinced that, “all is never lost in life” and, “there is always light at the end of the tunnel.” CERI’s timely intervention convinced him that regardless of the difficulties and hopelessness, there is a faithful God who promised He will never forget and never forsake His children.