DILEEP CHATHURANGA

“It is important to help someone wholeheartedly, without expecting anything in return, especially monetary gain.”

Hailing from a low income, single parent family, Dileep says his mother repeatedly instilled in him that education was his only ticket out of poverty. His father passed away in 1995, when Dileep was just four years old. Succumbing to a life of hardship, he lived in a mud hut that could not withstand even the slightest downpour and with no money even for a tin roof. Unable to bear to see his mother suffer during the rains, he opted to ask the local police station to give him two illicit liquor barrels confiscated by them for a makeshift roof.

His passion for helping students through their Ordinary and Advanced Level exams was also sparked because of this leaky roof. Unable to host alms giving for his father’s 20th death anniversary in his dilapidated home, he says he opted to instead donate school supplies to a remote school in Polonnaruwa.  Speaking with the kids, advising them on the importance of education, he recalls a female student writing a lengthy note to him, when he asked them if they had issues they would like to discuss.

Filled with anger at the plight of this student, who was being abused by her father, Dileep took it upon himself to help her find her way through her studies and was happy to report that she is well on her way to pursue her higher studies.

This ignited a passion in him to help other students, whom, like him hailed from an impoverished background with education being the only opportunity to change their plight. As a software engineer from the Moratuwa University, Dileep says his forte was math and he has conducted workshops on easy to remember techniques and short cuts for Ordinarily and Advanced Level Math at 113 schools across all 25 districts. During these workshops, he is not just a teacher to the students, he is also a motivational speaker and a guidance counsellor passing on the message that each of those students have the power to better their future.

Today, he says he has a passionate, likeminded group of youth who join him at these workshops, providing support with other subjects including Science and English. Their entire process is voluntary, with the team travelling by bus to each location and finding abode with a local family. He says there is no monetary benefits in what he does, but his passion for helping students excel is his biggest motivation to keep going.

Dileep is now keen on taking his ideology across Sri Lanka, putting his software engineering degree to work with the development of a study app and a website that will provide the tips and tricks he passes on to students, making it more accessible to them wherever they may be. He is also keen on inspiring youth to be more environmentally conscious, involving them in planting trees around Sri Lanka.

Dileep says “my mother always reminded me that education was my ticket out of our plight and that it is important to help someone wholeheartedly, without expecting anything in return, especially monetary gains. That is what I tell all the students as well and hope they will take inspiration from that.”