Rashmi Nimesha Gunawardana is a ten year old young student of Daraniyagala Deloluwa Junior School, who had been born with only one leg and going to a normal school just like other children in her village. However, she has never been discouraged by having one leg to do all the work in the world. Instead she used what she had as an individual, to conquer her challenges in everyday life.
Recently, Rashmi was able to pass her grade five scholarship exam with flying colours and became the first to get 153 marks, which was easily made her qualified to enter to a leading school in the Capital of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Rashmi Nimesha had been the only student of Deraniyagal Deloluwa School to attain such a high mark for the last ten years. Therefore, there’s no doubt that she is a gem to her school and to her Deraniyagala community.
She challenge our negatively label taboo “disable child,” or “crippled one.”
Both of Rashimi’s parents are school teachers. Her father, Mr. D.P. Sarath Gunawardana is a teacher at the school, where Rashmi attends. Her mother, R. M. Dammika Podi Manike is a music teacher in Seethawaka Midddle School in Deraniyagala, Sri Lanka. Both parents support Rashmi’s growth and success by attending her needs, wishes, and concerns.
Rashmi’s father says that there are challenges in the future related to conducting Rashmi Nimesha’s higher studies as a student. He mentions that Rashmi is in a position where she is unable to feed by herself as there are no hands and does everything with her left leg. Moreover, he says that someone needs to help her with removing shoes, and then needs to help her to do her writings (I believe what her father saying is, Rashimi needs someone’s assistance such as, taking the pencil and positioning the pencil between toes).
“Everyone in her classroom helps her. Rashmi performs a good leadership in her class. First, she went to Sanasa Pre-school in Deraniyagala. Teacher’s in that school put a lot of effort to help her. All teachers encouraged and they were behind her from grade one. A lot of parents overjoy when their children pass grade five scholarship exam. It is not that we are not happy but as parents my wife and I are helpless when looking at what difficulties we have ahead of us as. What we desperately need is guidance and some sort of strong social assistance. My daughter always travels in a vehicle. We take her to school in a rented vehicle. She cannot be taken in a motor bicycle. Rashmi needs some sort of electronically working arm gadget, which would immensely help my daughter to conquer some of her difficulties” mentioned Rashmi’s father with a heavy heart.
When a journalist questioned Rashmi about her victory, she humbly replied that she has not given up her dreams. “Even I am destined to born with only one leg, I never pitied myself. Since I have both my parents, I never felt sad. The biggest dream I had at the time, was to pass the scholarship exam with flying colours and receive lot of gifts and awards from President Mahinda Rajapaksha as brothers and sisters (students) who were entitled to such great gifts in previous time” said young Rashmi Nimesha with an innocent smile.
Rashmi Nimesha is a true role-model who shows us that there is no need to give pity look at people who are disabled. There is no need for us to look at children or adults like Rashmi Nimesha with sympathy or negativity.
- All we have to do is, look at what strengths and skills they have to offer the society and cherish them.
- We should not talk or label them as “Disabled people” or “Handicapped people” or else “Cripples.”
- We need to respect people like Rashimi as they deserve the same gratitude, attitude, and respect like us.
Call them by the first person such as, “People with disability” rather than Disabled people. Call them “Children with Special Needs” rather than Handicapped or Crippled Children.
- Always remember it is the respect and value you give to another human by using the word “PEOPLE” at the first (first person in communication)
Rashimi Nimesha Gunawardana is another courageous child in our society that teaches us what it means to look at someone’s strengths rather their weaknesses or disabilities. This is a good lesson for all of us in Sri Lanka.
We wish you all the success and courage, dear daughter Rashmi!