Srimali is the Director of a Web sites design Company called Am Web Designers and Developers in Sri Lanka. She has generously donated her time and skill to construct our website.
She has a wonderful story to highlight power of learning and the acquisition of strong communication skills particularly in the international language of English.
When we met Srimali she became aware of the project work Zena Kennedy Foundation (ZKF) had been undertaking involving educating children with an emphasis on English literacy programs.
She was moved to share her personal story with us and during the course of speaking with her she remarked “One word transformed her life [the language of] English”.
Below is her story which she has shared with us and we hope that it will be a source of true inspiration to others.
I (Srimali) was born in a village and came from a broken home.
As young children we had the opportunity to travel to Singapore and the Maldives, as my father worked for Air Ceylon.
We experienced a world which was completely different to our village. Unfortunately as we only spoke Sinhala we were not able to communicate with the people whom we encountered whilst travelling.
Many spoke English and we longed to be able to acquire the ability to speak and communicate in that language.
As time went by, we went to various English classes but did not effectively grasp the language taught by teachers who themselves were not sufficiently fluent English speakers. So our development of English language skills was impeded.
Unfortunately in Sri Lankan schools the main focus of English teaching is merely to prepare students to face their final year exams. Consequently very little focus is placed on the spoken English language skills.
When I completed my education and commenced looking for a job my employment prospects were severely limited by my inability to communicate effectively and fluently in English. Various vocational study courses which I undertook were not helpful to me due to my lack of English language fluency.
One day I attended a Youth for Christ camp. There I met many people who spoke with me in English.
Despite my limited skills in the English language, they encouraged me to persist in learning English and they never laughed at me due to my language limitations.
Encouraged by their kindness I attended their meetings regularly and gradually increased my fluency in speaking English.
Interacting with people who spoke good English helped me to overcome my fear and the mystery of the English language.
As my English skills improved I managed to secure employment as a Stenographer. After a number of years I acquired a position as the Executive Secretary at the US AID project. This was a proud and happy moment for me as it was the type of work I had strongly desired to acquire.
Since that time I have received many job offers from Sri Lanka and overseas and I believe that my fluency in English has been a strong contributor to providing me with these opportunities.
Today I am married with children and we encourage all members of the household to communicate in English whilst at home.
My daughter graduated from the University of Colombo, with a specialization in English Literature. My son received a scholarship to study Business Studies in Japan. I believe one of the reasons the application was successful was because of his well developed English language skills.
Currently I operate my own company which is involved in website designing. My client base comprises of local and international clients and a large amount our communication is done in English.
I believe my well developed English skills enable me to conveniently and effectively deal with both my foreign and local clients and many are happy to use the convenience of dealing with a person communicating in English.
I am now convinced as a result of my own experience that to be successful in Sri Lanka and the international commercial world a well developed knowledge of the English language is necessary.
I am aware of numerous graduates who cannot get the desired job because their English language skills do not meet the required standards to communicate effectively in the domestic or international environment.
To hear that the Zena Kennedy Foundation is focusing, through its Educate Me Liberate Me Program, on helping participants develop powerful skills in English with speaking & listening as a priority is exciting news.
I know that my life was empowered and liberated by learning how to speak English to the western standard.