Updated: Apr 13, 2020
By: Caroline Ponnadurai
We can sometimes discount the power of a small act of kindness by a single person. However a small act of kindness can sometimes have an unexpected multiplied impact!
Sister Bridgitt was born in northern Sri Lanka, in a town named Jaffna. When she was young her grandmother and some friends knew a widow who was in a difficult situation and wanted to help her. In Jaffna the average household cooks rice twice a day, every day for their families. They decided that each time they cooked rice, they would grab an additional handful of uncooked rice and put it aside. At the end of the week they would pool what they had collected and give it to this widow. Bridgitt's mother carried on this tradition and implemented it in the church that she and Bridgitt's father led in their local village near the city of Illavalai . This way the church was able to help provide staple rations to the widows within the congregation and surrounding community.
This practice then spread to other churches within the province and wider through churches across other provinces. Today Sister Bridgitt runs an orphanage for over 100 children in Illavalai. In another location close to her orphanage she runs a shelter for destitute women and war widows.
In addition, many churches, with the help of Sister Bridgitt continue to support widows through the “handful of rice” program. The impact of this program has been extensive and the influence, far-reaching.
Such a simple yet tangible way to help those in need. A little kindness showed by a small group of women three generations ago has today spread across dozens of communities in a few areas in the North of Sri Lanka. We can never discount what God can do through the little acts of kindness that we can show to others. Together we can accomplish much, as each one of us does our part.
Sister Bridgitt is 92 years old and needs a hip replacement, She travels a 7 hour journey to Colombo to get her monthly injections to keep her pain under control. Nothing will stop her from doing what she is called to do. She says to me, that her work here is still not done. She is also good at texting and emailing at her age.
Meeting Sister Bridgitt and witnessing her life’s work has encouraged me and opened my eyes to the potential that lies within me. I have wished that if I could do half of what she does at my age now, I will be a very happy person. Through my journey to grasp the reality of my identity in Christ Jesus, and the inheritance I have been blessed with in Him, I have begun to turn my wish into reality. A small attempt on my part to impact my community in Australia and Sri Lanka. But, it’s a start.
As mother Teresa said “we all need to make the change that we want to see”. We need more people like Sister Bridgitt in this world for our future generation.