“A TEA-PLUCKING PRODIGY” – By Des Kelly


 

 He needs no introduction, need I say more ?, Van Langenberg’s the name, we call him Joe. Anything on his mind, a story to 

tell ?, Joe gets right down to it, relating it well. We are proud to have you on eLanka, mate. 

Desmond Kelly

Desmond Kelly.
(Editor-in-Chief)  eLanka.  

BATTLING MONUMENTAL ODDS: – By Joe Van Langenberg

 

This is an awe-inspiring story of a group of young lasses from Sri Lanka, otherwise known as ‘Paradise Isle’, which the late & great Jack Jersey dubbed his “Shangri-La”.

What makes this story more remarkable, is the fact that a group of young Tamil ladies employed as tea pluckers, on one of many tea plantations in Central Sri Lanka, have gained admission to some of the most prestigious universities in the country.

Despite working in less- than- perfect conditions, earning barely enough to help keep the homes fires burning, these feisty & determined members of the fairer sex, have triumphed over adversity; carving out a niche for themselves, broadening their mental horizons & paving the way for the rest of their sisters. Led by Theresa, who set an impressive benchmark by being the first to have secured admission into one of the better-known universities & who has become a role model whom the others now look up to, Theresa currently in her spare time, volunteers at her old school where she spends qualitative time inspiring & encouraging students to pursue their dreams; while simultaneously drawing attention to the fact, that impossible is a word found only in the dictionary of fools.

The young women are wished only the very best in their future endeavours Tea pluckers have been in the distant, not-too-distant & at times relatively recent past, some of the most exploited members of the working class movement; which equal opportunities advocates have reportedly termed, “slavish working conditions”.

However, they were given a shot in the arm, during the collective tenure of Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) leaders, Ministers & trade union firebrands, the late Arumugam Thondaman (Snr & Jnr). Regrettably however, the honeymoon was short-lived. But now once again, the status quo has seemingly & impressively been elevated.

The Tamil community who were for decades given the thin end of the wedge, in light of been marginalised, treated as sub-standard citizens & allegedly racially profiled, are slowly but surely, finding themselves standing shoulder to shoulder besides their Sinhalese compatriots. Sadly, there will more often than not, be vestiges of communal discord. That is lamentably a toxin, which can only be watered down & not sucked out in its entirety!





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