Op-Ed: Can I get a change for a 20? by Haroshan


Canada, a country of opportunities, a land of peace built by immigrants and cultivated by decades of multiculturalism. Like most immigrant parents, my parents came here poor. We came as refugees from the civil war that was taking place in Sri Lanka. My dad used to work day and night and my mom attended school because she wanted to get a good job in order to help my dad out in the long run. They faced hardships; racism, underpay, and especially fatigue from the countless hours of work. I was three years old when we moved here. My father came to Canada before my mother and I had therefore I have no memories of him till that point. My dad was very ambitious; he wanted to get us out of poverty. I barely spent time with him as he would always jump from one work to another. My mother had a hard time adjusting to the western culture, so she never understood the problems I faced whether at school or on the streets. I was lost most of my childhood and I did not have the guidance I needed. So every decision I made, was an experience that taught me right from wrong. I made a lot of friends, lost a lot of friends, fell in love many times, broke my heart most of those times, have been discriminated against, and I have made memories that will last forever. Now when I look back at everything I have been through, I realized one thing; I am alive.

I am grateful for everything I have been through, and I am grateful for everything my parents did for me. How many of us are not? I mean, sure sometimes (or most of the time) we do not have the perfect communication we want with our parents. However, we can not blame them for that, to be frank, we have to be understanding. They went through hardships and that crafted them and changed them to be tougher, and stronger. We have not experienced what they have, we did not feel what they felt so how can we ask them to change, when change is what they had to do to survive. Instead of asking our parents to change, why don’t we change the situation that caused our parents to change; poverty.

Poverty in Sri Lanka has left many children on the streets, scavenging for food, or should we say …crumbs. We escaped the war in Sri Lanka, we were the fortunate ones, but what about those who were not as fortunate? Our brothers and sisters we left there are not guaranteed another meal while we are here taking our lives for granted. How many times have you thought about what you have done or what you can do to help the people bach home? While you eat, they starve. While you sleep, they search for food. While you party, they are fighting stay alive. If it were not for a series of opportunities, you could be one those kids. Instead, you are blessed to live in this country of opportunities. Will you not go back and help the young children who need you?


In Montreal, a person earning minimum wage working 40 hours can still pay their rent, buy food and have enough to go out on the weekends. That means that those of who live with our parents and work 40 hours a week end up saving a lot of money We live in a materialistic period, where fame and fortune classify our status. We think of ourselves, and our needs; whether we are on pursuit of fame or fortune, we fail to look back at the ones we left behind. Our land torn by war, our literature and legacies burnt down, and our people, our brothers and sisters, our children are starving, suffering and fighting to live.

I see humans, but I don’t see any sign of humanity”- Jason Donohue

What if I told you for $20 you can buy change… change in the form of a future.

$20 can get a child in Sri Lanka one semester of school. You are providing the child with education. You are providing the child with a future. Every dollar you spend here, has a lot more value in a child’s life in Sri Lanka. I am not saying you should pour out all your earnings, but I am confident that you can help guarantee a child’s future. What better feeling is there than knowing you saved a life? Sponsor a child, adopt a child or the next time you visit Sri Lanka, bring some extra money and help institutions there improve their facilities. Yes, we lost our people in the war, our people to the Tsunami, but let us make a change to not lose any more of our people than we already have. Our children need us.


Every child deserves to have a future.

As Tamils, we have to look out for one another. These children who would call you “anna” or “akka” deserve guidance, a guardian, a champion, they deserve to know that they are not forgotten, that we will come back for them.  Be the hero that your parents were for you. As humans we all have the potential to achieve great things. Make this one of them.

“Every child deserves a champion- an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”- Rita Pierson.


– Haroshan Thaya


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