We live in a time where fear dictates every move. The freedom we used to have to step out of homes, to take a stroll on the beach, to go out and do our weekly shopping; everything has come to a standstill. However, amidst the fear and uncertainty most of us enjoy the luxury of relaxing at home, and feeling safe and happy with our loved ones in the comfort of our own homes. But does everyone enjoy the same luxury of staying home and staying safe during this unprecedented global pandemic? Real heroes are the people who continue to do their part for the country even when faced with danger.
The front-liners of the medical profession, the police and the tri forces and the farming community who make sure there is sufficient food supply are the heroes of the moment. The youth who labour relentlessly inside supermarkets sorting, packing, billing and delivering are also part of this group of unsung heroes of this time.
How can we forget the crucial role played by the teams of the supermarket chains?
Answering thousands of calls and staying calm whilst some callers vent their frustration and anger on them requires unlimited amounts of patience and dedication. They should be blessed for the sacrifices they make as they perform their tasks day in and day out.
When their parents tell them to stay home and be safe ( “ Leda hada ganne nathuwa thiyana deyak kala gamata wela idin puthe” ) they still take it upon themselves to fulfill their responsibility to serve their fellow countrymen without making their own safety their main priority.
The sense of being home and being safe is a luxury most of these supermarket workers have forgone willingly. It is thanks to them that the smooth supply of food and essential goods supply chain continues.
Sujith Wedarachchi, the Manager of Cargills Big City Katubedda, is one of thousands of these silent heroes. He is not only the Manager who guides his team of 13 staff who work continually but leads by example, filling in for every role.
According to Sujith , there are only 3 team members who hail from nearby areas. The rest stay at boarding houses and report to work daily. The work that starts at 8 am in the morning doesn’t stop until well past 9 pm or 10 pm. Not one of them complains when they miss their lunch or go on working with only a milk packet in their bellies.
They have taken it to heart that they are serving the country at a crucial time. This is their time to be the heroes who serve the people. Their sense of accomplishment and pride fuels them to work tirelessly, forging ahead. This far outweighs the need to stay safe and stay at home says Sujith.
Out of 13 staff members currently holding the fort at Cargills Big City Katubedda, six of them happen to be women, who work side by side with their male counterparts with the sorting, filling racks, packing according to the orders they receive and loading the packed parcels into vehicles.
As stated by Sujith, the team at Cargiils Big City Katubedda strive to deliver all orders they receive through whatsapp or online within 2 days. While they fully understand the errors that could occur from their end, having morning meetings to understand the problems they face in order to find solutions, pep -talks to boost morale and supporting one another have kept them going so far.
Recalling a few incidents that have made a real impression on him, Sujith says at one time he delivered an order to a home of a Doctor. They were told that if the family did not receive their order that day their toddler would have gone hungry. Some customers have even offered food and tea to the team that delivered orders.
These experiences are what makes their sacrifices more meaningful and worthwhile. It has given them the courage to report to work each day despite the tremendous pressure and the sheer exhaustion they face says Sujith.
Being a father himself, Sujith faces added hardships of which the public is not aware. He is deprived of sweet cuddles and loving hugs from his daughter as he strictly adheres to social distancing when he is at home, given the nature of his job. Seeing his little daughter crying because she is not allowed to hug her father is indeed heartbreaking.
This is the story of many supermarket workers in the country today. Sujith’s story has shed light to a part of the equation that is not often talked about during the battle to end Corona Pandemic.
The farmers who battle against nature and the supermarket staff that ensures the food supply chain is not broken deserve our recognition and gratitude. This is not only because they choose to work continually when most of us stay safe at home, but because of the numerous sacrifices they readily make in doing so.
That’s why heroes are not born but are created by the choices they make.