Which is why I thought it wouldn't be inappropriate to extend that hand and reach to help someone else, too.
My friend Pradeep is an economic student at the university of Lund in Sweden. He is a citizen of Sri Lanka. Pradeep worked as an internal auditor at several banks all over Sri Lanka for over four years, during his four years, he saved up enough money to start a new life and pursue his education abroad. He chose to move to Sweden and study here, with the intentions of starting school and finding a job on the side to help fund the remaining of his studies. What he didn't know and account for were two very important truths: Sweden is expensive, one. Two, it's extremely difficult to find jobs in a small town in Sweden if you don't know the language, regardless of your skills and experience.
To begin with, his move here proved to be way more expensive that initially accounted for because he was given a university dorm room that is about 30% more expensive than most of the corridor rooms he was hoping to get, on top of that, the room was located in a neighboring village from which he needed to take public transport to get to school. A monthly card costs a little over 500kr.
Secondly, Pradeep overestimated how fast he would be able to find a job. At first, he found a job at a restaurant for which he would be paid 40kr an hour which some of you might already know is 100kr below minimum wage. He worked there only a few hours during Saturdays, and that income never added up to too much. He then found another job at another restaurant where he worked for 3 days for a similar wage but never got paid for it. Finally, a delivery company decided to give him a job where he would deliver food with his bike. The wage is 50kr per delivery, but Pradeep works hard enough to make a decent living out of the job. The issue here though, is that he got this job in the middle of November, and that is when the next semesters tuition fees were due. At this point, Pradeep had been without an income for three and a half months, had incurred unaccounted for expenses, and was studying one of the most demanding programs at the university full-time. He simply did not have the funds to pay his tuition fee on time for the next semester.
He has now applied for a reprise at the admissions office and has been granted until the middle of January to make the payment.
It was during this semester's finals when I actually got to meet Pradeep and learned of his story.
We were studying for statistics exam, a class I hated and he enjoyed and was considerably better at than me. Everyday after classes, a few of us, him included would regroup and sit in a corner and study statistics. Most of the time, it was just him going through a concept time and again trying to get us to understand it as well as he did before he went off to work at 5pm everyday.
It amazed me and still does how someone under so much stress and pressure could remain so well composed, so hopeful, so kind, and so motivated to work, to study, to help others all at the same time.
Living in this part of the world and having come from a background where we have support systems and assistance in place, I think we often fail to acknowledge the magnitude our own privileges and the struggle of others.
Just thinking about what he was going through the past few weeks, I could not help but be stressed and frustrated, at how unfair life is. I could not understand how he was keeping himself together under such tremendous pressure when someone like me felt like breaking down just hearing it. And usually I take myself to be someone very cold and very out of touch with the world of "everyone's equal". I believe that life is hard, but we owe it to ourselves to try hard enough, whatever hard enough might mean to different people. This is not one of those cases.
This is a case of a very hard working man, trying very very hard to change his life for the better and at the expense of no one but himself. Because when I tried to help by a sliver of an inch, he refused my help and was determined he would be fine on his own. It actually took me a long time to convince him to take any help of any sort. Which is why I decided to start a crowdfunding page for him. I think a little help from a lot of people can add up to a lot and I like to believe that there are many people out there who are willing to commit a small act of kindness that could impact someone's life greatly.
Pradeep needs to make the payment of 50,000kr to the university in less than a month. The remaining 5,000kr will go to his December's rent which he couldn't afford to pay on time.
It is true that he is receiving about 10,000kr per month from his new job. While that is a decent wage, it isn't enough to accumulate to 50,000 in such a short period of time, even if you disregard all the other expenses one has such as rent and food. Which is why the goal is to get him through this coming semester so he can work and save up enough money to pay the rest of his tuition fees on time.
Otherwise, he would be forced to pursue less fortunate options that would include dropping out and going back ro Sri Lanka. Something that to me is unthinkable. Because Pradeep has already invested about 100,000kr in his new life here in Sweden, which was his entire life's savings. He's gone through a lot to during his time here. It makes no sense for all of this to have been for nothing.
So during this holiday season, I would like to ask all of you to think of all the times you've needed help and someone has reached out to help without truly having to or needing to help you. They helped anyways, and you are where you are today, reading this because you put in effort, because the people around you helped. Make this holiday different, make Pradeeps efforts count, and let's all together make sure to prove that all of this has not been for nothing.
Lastly, I would like any of you who are willing to spread the word and share this with people who might care enough to help.
Thank you for your time and attention.