Once upon a time there was a boy.
This boy was born in the verdant tea plantations of Sri Lanka to a humble tea worker and his wife. The family of 7 was poor, but had everything they hoped for in each other.
Life was good. 🙂
Then Christmas happened.
Christmas that year was anything but merry. That night, the boy’s relatives had come to his house to mourn the loss of their uncle who’d tragically passed away. A house of celebration was turned into a house of mourning when a corpse replaced the conifer as the centerpiece of his home. The boy was distraught. “This can’t be Christmas. It can’t get worse than this” he thought.
He couldn’t be more wrong.
Just then, someone from the house decided to pump more air into the kerosene lamp because there wasn’t enough light.
All it took was one pump.
The kerosene lamp burst into liquified flames which spilled on a number of people. The mourning turned to wailing as people were trying to reach the nearest exit to escape the conflagration. The 10-year old screamed and shouted for help. With his crying baby sister carefully tucked in his hands, the boy rushed out of the burning house desperate to find the rest of his siblings.
As he rapidly surveyed the smoky air for someone who can help, his eyes fell on a familiar silhouette. “AMMA! (mom) ” he tried to scream above the screams. “WE ARE HERE!!”
The boy was elated to see the one person who’d always been there for him. That can’t be anybody else but her. “AMMA!! AMMA!! COME HERE!! WHERE ARE YOU?? WE ARE….”
Suddenly he froze.
As the smoke cleared just enough to see, the boy witnessed a sight that would change his life forever.
His mom was screaming while being burned alive by the flames.
She suffered from severe third degree burns all over her body and died a few days later.
After the death of his wife, the father sent the boy and his 4 siblings to the homes of his brothers because he couldn’t work and take care of them at the same time. The boy was scarred for life. He missed his mom, dad, and 4 siblings who were adopted by other family members. In addition to the emotional pain felt, the boy also endured physical pain caused by his uncles. Finally, on the 2 year anniversary of his mom’s death, the 12 yr old took his meager saving of 10 rupees ( less than a dollar), his luggage consisting of one white t-shirt and a blue pair of shorts, and ran away from his family in an effort to put his life back together.
fast forward 5 years.
The 16-year old was working as a house boy for some American doctoral students after weeks of being homeless, food-less, and restless. One of the students, Mr.Ron Walcott, took notice of the boy’s work ethic and offered him work as his assistant. Soon thereafter, the boy would travel all over Sri Lanka to help translate Sinhala and Tamil to English while Mr.Walcott analyzed that data for his dissertation. For the next 4 years, the American would be this boy’s father, teacher, and mentor.
The dissertation was done. The time came for Mr.Walcott to leave Sri Lanka.
The satisfaction of a job well done was eclipsed by his imminent departure from the boy. He knew that once he left, the boy would be left in the streets. Nobody is going to hire a dhemalaya ( derogatory term for a tamil-speaker) let alone a 3-rd grade dropout.
It dawned on him that the best thing he could do to help the boy was to provide him with a good education.
Mr. Walcott took the boy to the best high-school in Kandy at the time, argued with the principal to get the over-aged boy enrolled, paid his school fees for the next 3 years, and left the country.
40 years have passed since.
I’m in southern California as I write this and I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the events that led up to this moment.
The boy was my father.
Because of the kindness of Mr.Walcott, my father was able to finish high school, meet my mom in the same school, get married, get a nursing degree, work as a nurse in Sri Lanka, and currently work as an orthopedic staff nurse in Oman.
A month ago, my father came to the States for the first time in his life to see his son graduate from college.
Today, for the first time in over 35 years, he was able to meet the man who literally changed his life forever.
And I took a selfie with both of them 🙂
I probably wouldn’t have been born if not for the kindness and benevolence of Mr. Walcott. My dad wouldn’t have been in school and never would have met my mom. But the Lord has been so kind to us through and through and has used a random American guy to deliver my dad from poverty and position his family for greatness.
If you’re reading this, you are privileged. You have something that someone else doesn’t.
I don’t care who you are or what you have, but you have the power to change someone’s life.
I invite you to make a decision to change someone’s life today.
All it takes is seeing a need and DOING something about it.
Who knows. You might even affect the lives of people who aren’t even born yet.