Safran goes the extra mile


In a sea of negative ad peddlers, there are rare souls who go the extra mile, without receiving any applause. Despite rarely being appreciated, when they do something, they give it their all. They do not need power or money to make a change. Their passion and dedication make the world a better place.

In general, public toilets in Sri Lanka are not pleasant places. People are forced to use these facilities because they have no choice. The upkeep of these places is terrible.  One cannot forget the smell, broken doors, filled dustbins, and wet floors of public toilets.

However, the male toilet near the Chalmers Car Park in Pettah is different. The place is a hallmark for a valuable story of compassion of a young man. His name is Safran, a 30-year-old with a shy smile.

“I have kept my surroundings clean, neat, and tidy from childhood. I didn’t do this merely for the people who use this facility, but for myself too,” Safran said.

When Safran got the job to maintain the public toilet six months ago, the place was no different from other public toilets in the country. The doors were half-broken and there wasn’t much privacy. The floor was so dirty that one would only dare to step on it in an emergency. However, Safran turned the place around within weeks.

“As I do not want to work in an unclean environment, I gave it a thorough cleanup. Soon after, I began to decorate the place. I brought some flower pots and kept them in the corners and at the entrance as well.”

Safran did not crave for attention from anyone. He felt it was his job to upkeep the place, and create a pleasant atmosphere for customers. Very few people spent a minute to appreciate his effort. Most did not bother. But Safran didn’t seek validation and laboured on.

“I brought more flower pots and vases. I also pasted some beautiful stickers and hung pictures on the wall. Even though I’m very busy with giving tickets and collecting money day and night, I set aside a few hours to water the plants and make sure they get enough sunlight. I usually need about three hours for that. I have to wake up early. But the satisfaction I get is immense.”

He doesn’t plan to stop there. He wants to add more colour to the place, by bringing some more floral arrangements. 

“Now, many people who use the toilet praise my efforts. I am really happy they appreciate me. But I never expected that. I just want to do my bit for society. I am not a wealthy person. But I want to work to the best of my ability,” he said.

To serve society, one does not need to be wealthy or in a high place. Everyone can bring change in their homes and workplaces. Change should begin in one’s mind and soul. These saintly persons make the world a better place.

By Methmalie Dissanayake