Success Story of Nadarajah Kirupananthans
‘St. John’s College is my father and mother,’ said Nadarajah Kirupananthan when asked about the role played by the institution in his life. For a quick glimpse into his life, please keep reading…
‘My hometown is Kumalamunai, in Mullaitivu. I have 7 siblings. Therefore the total number of members in my family is ten. We lived in abject poverty and great difficulty. There was always a shortage of food. I went to work in the quarry after school and went out to sea in the evenings with my father from grade 6. I don’t remember going to school regularly.
War added to our sorrow. I missed out my education from grade 1 to 3 and then again in grade 10 due to war. After I sat for my O/L examinations, the war became more intense. After two months of studying in the advanced level classes, schools closed. Now and then schools and pocket schools functioned here and there – but I was not allowed to attend due to constant shelling. I valued education but my parents valued me more.
During the height of the war we suffered untold hardships. After the war, we were sent to camps and rehabilitation centres that didn’t have even the most basic of facilities. About three families lived in an ordinary tent. It was to be our home – a place where we ate, studied and slept. I couldn’t study well in such circumstances. We had no stationery. There were about 59,000 people in our camp alone – and we had only three makeshift schools. Teachers who were assigned to help the children were not regular. The teachers also faced the impossible task of teaching very large groups of students. Owing to the class sizes, students too couldn’t study much.
Not adequately prepared, I sat for my A/L examinations in 2010. After sitting for the exam, I was helping children in lower classes with their education when I got to hear that the Principal of St. John’s College was giving opportunities for affected children to study in Jaffna. Knowing fully well that the only way to break out of the poverty cycle is through education, I asked the Principal to help me out. Soon, I found myself walking in through two gigantic gates –to a place that transformed me totally.
I had nothing…nothing at all. St. John’s provided for me. I was given free education, accommodation, meals, sports gear, stationery…everything…the college even gave me a bicycle to go for tuition, paid for by the school. Even when living with my family, I had to go to school and then work for it. But St. John’s did not expect anything in return. St. John’s gave all what she could, free of charge, with a big smile on her face. I have no words to describe my feelings of gratitude to her. I am indebted beyond my ability to ever repay.
After gaining admission to St. John’s College, I became even more resolute in my decision to study. Parameswaran (now in the Engineering faculty), Anistan and I would study hard during the study hours. We were given tea at 9:30p.m. We drank half of it and kept the remaining half. We went to sleep at 10:30p.m. and soon after the hostel master was fast asleep we crept back to the study room or classroom and studied for another couple of hours. The half cup of tea we had saved earlier came in handy.
I sat for my A/L examination again (took Drama and Theatre, History and Tamil - first time through St. John’s) and was ranked 36th in the District. I owe it all to St. John’s.
St. John’s didn’t not stop helping me once I sat for the A/L exam. St. John’s went the extra mile and made me finish a Cadet Course, Montessori Course and English Language Development Programme. The exposure and education I received moulded me into a better me.
St. John’s kept giving me pocket money during my four years at the varsity. Between semesters I went to my hometown and gave free classes and organized paper discussions. The years at the university went quickly and I sat for my final examinations. Right now I am waiting for my results.
My ambition has always been to be a teacher. So, after sitting for my finals, I approached the Principal of St. John’s College, respected Reverend, Father Gnanaponrajah who was gracious in employing me as a teacher for Political Science, History and Drama. I want to teach at St. John’s and at the same time do my M.A. I also want to help develop my village, Kumalamunai. I also want to help the many students in the university who are considering giving up their studies because of poverty at home.I want to look after the less fortunate the way St. John’s looked after me. I want to transform lives the way St. John’s transformed mine.
I will never ever forget St. John’s College or my sponsors for making me who I am today. I wish to specifically thank Mr. Sritharan Rasaiyah in France and Mr.Thana Sri Ram, an old boy in UK for sponsoring me. I simply don’t know where I would be today if not for this magnificent institution and if not for my sponsors.
Thank you very very very much for transforming my life and for indirectly transforming the lives of those who I am going to transform. May God bless you all.’