By Prasad, Co-Founder at Possible.
I was born in Sri Lanka, a small island off the coast of southern India. Sri Lanka at the time was a poor third world country mired in conflict. It still is in many ways and from about the mid 80s to the mid 90s during my time there, the country suffered from deep political and economic turmoil. My family lived in Jaffna which is in the northern part of Sri Lanka and for part of my time there, the area was under civilian control but had a heavy Sri Lankan military and police presence. However, for much of that time, a now defeated separatist outfit called the Tamil Tigers actually held sway in the area. The Tigers as they were often called routinely got into armed conflicts with the Sri Lankan military and the police. One time, even the Indian Army was deployed to the area on a peace keeping mission against the Tamil Tigers.
I have two younger sisters and a younger brother. My youngest sister would be born much later and away from the conflict zone. But for the oldest three of us, it was normal to hear the sounds of gunfire, of aircraft overhead firing their high caliber guns or rockets, or of the high pitched sound of artillery as it shrieked overhead approaching the target and exploding in a loud bang. Sometimes as children we would spend our spare time witnessing these events live as they unfolded from a relative distance. Most often we could only hear these events and anything visual usually involved aircraft overhead. We would watch these aircraft as if they were part of a game, guessing the number of bombs they were going to drop, trying to predict where they were going to land, or trying to predict if supplies being parachuted in to a besieged old dutch fortress turned military camp would land on target within the fortress. Initially, it all seemed so distant, as if watching a film unfold.
One time we were watching an Indian army helicopter firing its high caliber guns and crude rockets at something. This was nothing out of the ordinary as there had been a recent escalation of the conflict between the Tigers and the Indian army. Little did we know, the target was a car full of civilians that included my uncle, his wife (my mom’s sister) ,his brother and two of his relatives. They had been trying desperately to get out of the area and decided to do so during a lull in the fighting. The car was spotted by a helicopter gunship and was chased and hit. The car flipped over and caught fire. Multiple people inside the car were hit, including both my aunt and uncle. My aunt miraculously survived with two bullet wounds. My uncle’s brother would later succumb to his injuries at a makeshift hospital. Two others had relatively minor injuries.
I still vividly remember to this day my terrified, wailing uncle in his blood soaked shirt running to our house to find help to take the injured to the hospital. We were terrified. What we were witnessing didn’t feel real. As children we watched from a distance too afraid to find out what had really happened. What had started as an amusing hobby of aircraft spotting and a series of emotionally disconnected events for us as children had finally become real and hit close to the heart. The conflict became front and center in my life.
Fast forward a few months later we would find ourselves as refugees, forced to relocate to a camp, and a few months after that we would take a treacherous journey across the conflict zone and across no mans land, on rickshaws, on overcrowded and barely afloat fishing boats across a lagoon and on foot across landmine filled areas to reach safety within government controlled areas. We left with only what we were wearing and the little we could carry by hand. Once we reached the capitol Colombo we found ourselves with nothing. My parents eventually rebuilt their lives from nothing and made sure as children we were fed, clothed, educated properly and shielded from as much of their hardship as possible. My siblings today are successful medical doctors. I went on to get a college degree in the U.S and went on to work as an early member of some of the iconic tech industry names of our time such as MP3.com, Napster, Axon and finally as a start-up founder at Possible. Today the U.S is my home.
This long journey from war refugees to a career in the US didn’t happen without a tremendous amount of help. All throughout my life’s journey, through the many twists and turns, the one consistent and recurring theme has been the countless number of kind human beings, institutions and enterprises that were willing to offer a helping hand when my family and I were desperately in need of help. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for all those people along the way who helped in countless number of ways, from the small things to the big. They may not think much of how they helped us but even the small helping hand here and there mattered tremendously for us and made all the difference in the world.
America is a great nation. Americans are hard working, kind and generous. As an immigrant and as a student I found Americans both kind and friendly. I was rarely asked where I was from – everyone sort of assumed I belonged here. I was able to integrate with relative ease and make lifelong friends. But life here isn’t without its own challenges. While I was at Axon I had the privilege of riding along with police officers in a number of cities and meet many folks from the communities they serve. I witnessed first hand the impact technology can have on challenges we face in this country. First hand accounts by tearful and thankful police officers as well as community members at the mercy of law enforcement showed how thankful they were for technology that provided better context and evidence for potentially tense police situation and helped saved lives.
Here at Possible I’ve heard from many of you the challenges you face in your financial lives. How difficult it is to make ends meet, to take care of your loved ones, pay rent or pay your bills. The banks that are in the best position to help you financially won’t even talk to you without good credit. The banks over burden you with overdraft fees and charges that put you in deeper financial trouble. You often find yourself taking out outrageously expensive payday loans and repeatedly keep borrowing to make ends meet. Here at Possible our mission is to use technology to offer you a kinder, softer alternative to payday loans. To help you in your time of need. We may not be able to solve all your financial problems, but like the people in my own life that offered help in achieving my dreams, we want to help you financially in your time of need. As a co-founder of Possible, I am hopeful that we can be the little boost in your life – the helping hand, the boat across the lagoon – to make your life Possible!
To get a loan with Possible, download the Possible app from the iTunes or Google Play Store.