The power of simple random acts – How the ‘I Can’ project started in Sri Lanka

It’ February 14th, Valentines day and I am browsing the net, going from one link to the other, without a particular destination, enjoying tidbits from the cyber world.

I happen to come across an interesting TED talk Its about a school in India (Riverside School) that starts a program called I Can, where children aged 8 – 14, in small groups are empowered and inspired to become change agents. It’s a simple concept. The children are asked to pick an issue that bothers them, that they want to change, and then they are given a week to make the change. The impact and results are amazing. From cleaning up garbage, to making cities child friendly, to stopping child marriages, to teaching their parents to read and write, no issue was too big or too small. Kiran Sethi, the lady spearheading this project sees the potential of the project and starts taking the idea to other schools in the state and then across India. It gathers momentum and start spreading all over … Pakistan, England, Canada, Bhutan. Check how its spreading at

Coming back to my random web surfing. I tweet the link. My dear friend Bishan Rajapakse, in New Zealand picks it up and is equally inspired and does more than tweet it. He writes to Kiran praising her for her work and saying it would be amazing to start this in Sri Lanka. She replies. Of course … You Can! He puts me and several others in touch with Kiran.

In the meantime I have been meeting with a group of my friends, who are depressed and disheartened about some of the political and social issues in Sri Lanka. We wanted to get out of the apathy we were in and were looking for practical way to engage with social issues and the community, to bring in values, empowerment and good governance. I Can seemed like an ideal way to engage with children, teachers and the education system.

We pick up the idea, and today we are running a few pilot projects with amazing results. children have been involved in teaching under-privileged children English, stopping bullying in the school, cleaning up a garbage dump and convincing the municipality to give a job to an unemployed person known to them etc. Amazing what children will do when adults believe in them and they believe in themselves. The teachers are amazed too. Children whom they have hitherto written off as being ‘naughty’ and ‘undisciplined’ have worked the hardest and shown their true potential in their engagement with the project.

(Watch this space for more stories on our learning and experiences and results about the pilot project and how the project progresses.)

So what’s the moral of this story?

A simple random act can often have an unpredictable chain reaction and create change!

A tweet. An email. A contact and introduction. A group of friends.

A change initiative that is empowering children to believe in themselves as change agents and adults to start respecting the passion and action of children.

I did not know at the time I tweeted the link that it would connect me to a social change initiative that is growing as we speak. I didn’t realize that this would be a project that my friends and I would start doing.

What was the link?

Each one of us (me, the group of friends, Bishan, Kiran) in our separate corners of the world had one intention – the intention to transform human society, to empower the good humanness in all of us, to believe in children, to believe in the good in the world. This connected us. And simple random acts with this underlying intention connected us. That’s all. Simple.

I can make simple random acts, holding my intention closely to my heart, and see my intentions unfold, and connect with others.

I am not alone.

You are not alone.

Be brave. Be foolish. Make one simple random act of goodness. Share a story. Help someone. Believe in yourself. Believe in someone else. You never know how far it can reach.

Wishing life and energy to your good intentions!


p.s. Please do remember to click this link to watch the TED talk by Kiran and check out She is truly inspiring and the I Can movement is ‘contagious’.

We would welcome anyone who would like to be part of the project, and initiate ‘I Can’ projects in your own schools.