In times of need…

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The G.C.E. Ordinary Level exams 2021, having been postponed several times, are now being held island wide, starting from 23 May 2022 till 1 June. This time it is going to be tougher for the students to face the examination since they are made to face the academic battle during a very difficult time. It is no exaggeration to mention that this year’s O/Level batch is the most affected batch in the recent history since they have been in the receiving ends of both the pandemic and the on-going economic crisis. Many students find it difficult even to travel to the exam centres due to the fuel crisis, save for studying with a burden-free mind.

While the situation remains such, several individuals and organisations have extended their arms of generosity towards them, providing free transport to and from the exam centres and other facilities. Some of those organisations and individuals recently shared their thoughts with Ceylon Today.

Royal Palms Beach Hotel, Kalutara is one such organisation that has taken an initiative to provide transport facilities for O/Level students till the examination ends, covering up the area from Holy Cross College, Kalutara to Lyceum International School, Panadura.  Also, they provide table water and breakfast that includes a packet of milk in the morning to the students. Speaking to Ceylon Today, the General Manager of the Royal Palms Beach Hotel stated that around 200 students, both girls and boys, benefit from their project and emphasised that they have also employed a mature lady to travel with the children in order to ensure the safety of the students during the travel. “Since the tourism industry has faced a major downfall, we are also going through a rough patch. Nonetheless, we continue to support our fellow Sri Lankans because we believe that the only way out of this crisis is to help and look after each other. So we never cease to back them. Though we haven’t given any publicity, we have done a plethora of CSR projects like this and have even won Presidential Awards for them.” He further shared with Ceylon Today.

Induwara Dilanka Senarath, the owner of Semini Holiday Resort, Anuradhapura, has also stepped up to help O/Level students who find it difficult to come to the exam centres in Anuradhapura from the areas such as Padaviya, Kebithigollewa, Medawachchiya, Rajanganaya, and Horowpathana, by providing them free accommodation at his resort. Speaking to Ceylon Today, he mentioned that the resort is able to accommodate up to 20 students at the moment. “It is my late father, who used to be a teacher at Niwanthaka Chethiya Maha Vidyalaya, who found this Holiday Resort. So I thought it would be a great deed to help out the students sitting for O/Levels during these difficult times in remembrance of him.” He shared. Speaking further, Dilanka mentioned that still there are vacant rooms and if any student needs accommodation. 

CINEC campus, Malabe, is another organisation that has taken an initiative to provide transport facilities for O/Level students. Their shuttle service works from CINEC campus premises to Malabe town, transporting students to all the exam centres en route. “We provide transport for students no matter how many; whether it is just one student or a hundred. Though we have scheduled the transport from our campus to Malabe, sometimes we arrange vehicles to even further destinations also, depending on the request of the students. For an instance, few days back, we arranged a car to take two students to Baththaramulla.” They shared with us. “We don’t get any relief from the long fuel crisis though we are providing this service to students. We also have to wait in the long queues at the filling stations. But we will endeavour anything and continue this service till the exam ends.” CINEC campus shared upon our inquiring. Moreover, they reminded that any student can take their transport if they come to the campus in the morning and inform the security officer.

These are only a few of the many who came up to lend a hand to the students who are facing one of the greatest challenges of their lives in the times of a dire economic crisis. There are numerous other individuals and organisations in various parts of the country, doing a great job in supporting O/Level students, in silence. In fact, we must appreciate all these heroes who continue to remind us that humanity and compassion in this country have not completely disappeared yet.

By Induwara Athapattu