Equal opportunities for all | Daily News
Saiva Mangaiyar Vidyalayam, Wellawatta

Equal opportunities for all

Ishara Jayawardane

With great power comes great responsibility says Head Girl of Saiva Mangaiyar Vidyalayam (Hindu Ladies College), Wellawatta, Gayathiri Manoharan. Perfect Prefect features Manoharan who believes that we should promote a society which values diversity and provides equal opportunities for everyone.

Manoharan points out that in the 21st century, we have access to unbelievable technology and resources. Yet there are still people suffering all over the world. They lack the most basic resources to survive. What she says is absolutely true. For example, people in Yemen are facing horrific levels of hunger, with some having to eat tree leaves to survive.

“No human should live through these extreme conditions. So my cause is uplifting humanity. Every day we listen and witness so many issues through social media. Yet all we do is share and like. If you take our generation, sadly, many are not aware of what is going on in the world. We cannot continue to be spectators. We need to start getting involved. The youth must not think that an individual cannot make a difference. This kind of thinking is definitely a serious impediment when it comes to creating change and when it comes to working towards the betterment of society. Can you imagine if everyone else starts to think this way? In fact, it is our responsibility to seek ways to contribute, large and small. What counts is the effort and nothing else. I truly want to see a future generation free from discrimination based on caste, race, social status and gender. As humans we all have 206 bones, 5 liters of blood, 32 teeth and 1 heart. This is the ultimate truth and reality. We should promote a society which values diversity and provides equal opportunities for all, especially in education. No child should be deprived of an education and a chance to improve his/her quality of life. When it comes to mental health issues, I feel we should break the stigma and make everyone aware of how important mental health is in one’s life. Everyone’s goal should be to make the world a better place for all of humanity,” explained Manoharan.

She loves watching movies, listening to podcasts and music. But one band in particular has caught her attention. And that is the South Korean Boy Band BTS. No doubt the quality of their music is great, but they also cover subjects like mental health and gender norms.

“I would like share a message by the leader Kim Nam-Joon (RM) of BTS at the UN General assembly which inspired me the most – ‘No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin color or gender identity - speak for yourself.’ I also greatly admire Oprah Winfrey. She is an inspirational leader, a philanthropist, an activist and a really good entertainer. She has touched and enhanced the lives of millions of people. What admires me the most is that she speaks on human rights issues and she has inspired so many young girls to stand up for themselves and fight for their rights. ‘Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping-stone to greatness’ is one quote of hers that I love. Her views have really made a great impression on me, helping me to develop my character and personality.”

She adds that it is the issues that ‘challenge the mere existence of humanity’, that makes her passionate and makes her want to get involved in the process of solving these problems. “I think we really need to ‘restore humanity’. There are so many people out there who are suffering because they have no proper food or shelter. Many lack opportunities to improve the quality of their life. Nowadays mental illness is on the rise, and drastically. We also know that social media does affect your mental health. These are issues people need to be aware of. We need to step out and spread love and kindness.”

She has always believed that hard work and determination are the two most important traits one needs to succeed. She understands the importance of commitment in achieving goals. She is very fortunate to lead a team of 45 wonderful prefects who are devoted to the school.

“With great power comes great responsibility and I’m fully aware of that. As the Head Prefect I know I have to be a pillar of strength to my team and give them moral support. My attitude as a leader really depends on the situation. Because sometimes I am very serious and other times I always try to lighten the mood, because I know my mood and attitude influences my team. Leadership isn’t about preaching. It is more of a discussion. Being able to communicate effectively is key when it comes to the overall performance of the team. Conflicts may arise, but I need to unbiased and find the most effective solution,” said Manoharan.

Self- doubt has never been a problem for her. She has always believed in herself and continues to receive the blessings from the almighty. Her parents, teachers and well wishers are a source of strength. With guidance from these hard working and dedicated teachers she has been able to hone her skills. For Manoharan, failures are her best mentors. She feels that participation is more important than winning and she has never missed an opportunity to showcase her talent at school or elsewhere. Whatever she has attempted in life, she has done so with her fullest commitment.

“My message to the youth is to follow the master which is the heart. Face the devil -the challenges. And finish the game which is your goal. These are the three steps which I follow in whatever situation. Always know your worth and never underestimate yourself. Self-confidence will play a huge part in your success and failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, but this time more intelligently. It’s never a setback. It’s a mirror where you see yourself with greater clarity. So don’t be afraid of failure and challenges because we all have to face the harsh realities of life. So learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, and develop the cognitive and social skills to face the world,” pointed out Manoharan.

She is studying in the bio science field, and the dream is to be a doctor or hold a position related to the field of science. In addition, being a philanthropist is also a way of life she is thinking about. “My goal is very simple, and that is to leave the world a better place than when I found it. Whatever I do, I want my actions to benefit society in some way. When talking about dreams, I truly want to be a member of the UN organization, representing my country. This will give me the opportunity to work with others, and together we can solve issues that I feel passionate about,” said Manoharan.

She has many outside interests such as doing stage plays, playing different characters both in Tamil and English dramas. She has been learning Bharatanatyam from the age of 5. Her other interests include singing, drawing and playing instruments like violin. In addition to the field of music she is a member of different clubs, participating in community service activities. When it comes to sports, it is swimming and discus throw.

“There are two ladies who inspire me. One is our manager Mrs. Sivanandhini Duraiswamy who is a very inspiring lady and a role model for many young girls in Sri Lanka. She has put her heart and soul into what she loves best - the betterment of education and other philanthropic activities. She is truly an inspiration because she has done so much for the development and betterment of society. Next is my mother Mrs. Nalayini Manoharan, who has taught me so much about how to tackle challenges in life. She has proved that physical disability is not a barrier when it comes to achieving one’s goals. She has served society with wisdom and knowledge,” said Manoharan.

Manoharan finally wished to thank her parents and grandparents for their unwavering support and for the sacrifices they have made for her. She wished to thank her teachers for molding her into the person she is today and also wished to thank Mrs. Suranutha Jeyaruban (former teacher-in-charge of Prefects guild) for providing her with the proper guidance and support to become a leader. She also expressed her gratitude to her team of 45 prefects for their dedication during the past two years. And last but not least she wanted to thank her dear principal Mrs. Arunthathy Rajavijayan, whose leadership she admires. She will always remember her principal as a lady whose planning and execution is flawless.

“Life is all about accepting the challenges that come along the way. So choose to keep moving forward and savor the journey. We only live once, so living life to the fullest is all that matters. Love all serve all.”

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