By Anita RameshLooking sharp in his black suit, it’s hard to tell Meenojan’s successful demeanor masks the tragic experiences he suffered as a child. When he was just four years old, his mother died of cancer. Shortly after, his father abandoned the family. In an instant, his whole life changed. At 13, he entered the foster care program operated by Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) – the overseas arm of BCFS – in Sri Lanka, a small island nation off the southern coast of India. CERI’s foster care program serves children and youth like Meenojan in need of family placement, providing case management and a stable home environment, as well as support for food, clothing and education. Meenojan’s CERI case worker tried to help him pursue higher education, but Meenojan was unsuccessful in qualifying for school. Desperate to earn some money, he searched for any opportunity to work odd jobs and became a laborer in a local temple. In his spare time, Meenojan continued his attempts to get into school or a vocational training program. Three months later, with help from CERI, Meenojan was admitted to a vocational school to learn hotel management, where he was recognized as an outstanding student for his hard work and dedication to his studies. Today, Meenojan is an 18-year-old young man working in one of Sri Lanka’s premier hotels, making a good living to support himself.
I wish to share with everyone that being successful does not depend on your background,” Meenojan says. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to CERI who helped me overcome challenges in my life. I extend my deepest gratitude and appreciation to CERI. At the same time, I will never forget my roots and where I came from.
CERI is the international arm of the BCFS system of health and human service non-profit organizations