When we were kids she was the aunt who pampered and spoilt us. She had the peculiar ability to attract children and keep them under control. Each one of us at some point, thought or wished that we were aunty's favourite nephew or niece. With age, realised that it was a highly contested space!
During war times, besides the times she visited us and stayed with us, the interactions were not regular. On my way on the first post war visit to her house. I got in to a three wheeler at Point pedro and told that I want to be dropped close to "Veerapathira kovil", driver asked "Is it to Jeyam aunty's house?". I was surprised and replied "Yes, how did you know that she is my aunt?". He replied "No, she is Jeyam aunty to all of us".
I knew she had a great career as a Teacher serving in Gampola and then in Point Pedro. At that point, although I knew she was in to social services. I was ashamed that didn't know details of her transformation to "Jeyam aunty for all".
Then I understood, how she has given community leadership to form a grass root level, not for profit women's empowerment organisation during tough times. Through this organisation she has managed to obtain funds to establish and run a micro financing system for the village. It was a mini Grameen at work! Frequently, what she set up is referred as the model for those who want to set up similar initiatives in the region. She also was engaged in promoting livelihood projects for women. Introducing and encouraging them to start small businesses around sewing, creating packaged food, etc.
I admire for what she has managed to achieve. Mainly the amount of lives she has been able to positively impact on. Fortunately, I was one of those lucky ones to have had a chance to get positively influenced and inspired by her. For me she is a real life hero.
May her soul rest in peace!
Mrs. Jeyamangalam Ganesharatnam (22/05/1946 to 10/09/2015)