Dear club members, dear other club supporters,
not so easy to get back into the German everyday life after 30 intensive and successful days in Sri Lanka. Weather moderate – we always had > 30 degrees and very little rain – we did not miss anything in the stormy and wet “Germany February”. The Corona is everywhere and we have the impression that Sri Lanka with its far-reaching contacts with China has reacted faster and more intensively. So far only one reported case and that was then also “nothing”. This member information should be dedicated to our stay in Sri Lanka and of course the “Rosenkinder” projects. In short, it was much, much successful and little has remained open. Now in the usual order:
1.1 Current project “Rosenkinder” Sponsorships in cooperation with the Lions Club Aluthgama/Bentota
Once again we have outdone ourselves in the two big meetings with our sponsorship children in Kotapola and in the Briefgarden. In total we met 64 children or parents of now 68 godparents. However, we have now probably reached an upper limit, which can just about be managed by our volunteers in Sri Lanka Chandani and Dooland from the Lions Club Aluthgama/Bentota. We also do not want to lose the personal contact to our “Rose Children” during our annual visits. If it had gone according to the suggestions of our faithful monk Dr. Kirinde in Kotapola, there could have been a dozen more. At least so his suggestions during our visit. We are very satisfied with our Rosenkinder sponsorships, with a few exceptions. The children/young people were committed, the parents supported and we saw very good results in school and studies. As always, we also visited individual children in their personal environment. That gives special impressions. In one case, however, it also led to exclusion from our support. After a warning already last year and after not showing up for the meeting and despite registration for our separate visit at home we did not see any chance for a further support for the 14 year old Samindu. The problem is, if the parents, in this case the mother, is indifferent and do not support, then the children usually do not get along in school either. But we have visited 2 more children at home. There it looked completely different, even if these families also had very difficult fates. Like the 18 year old Piyumi from poorest circumstances is now studying and even more so the 20 year old Sakuni with 2 siblings, a mentally handicapped mother and the father has to care exclusively for the mother and the 3 children. This gives courage and confirms our line.
1.2 Current project special education at the Anula Wijerama Children Home in Balapitiya in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)
Like every year we visited “our” Children Home in Balapitiya twice. First in a small delegation for a preliminary talk about the general situation with Matron and volunteer committee and then later with our travel group for the “big” reception with demonstrations and especially a lot of contact with the girls. This is always a highlight of the trip for our fellow members. In between we went to Colombo to see the responsible persons of ACBC to coordinate our activities for the home. This two-tiered structure of responsibilities makes our children’s home projects transparent and easier to control. In addition to this, there is the important internal information that we receive about our members Petra Gerlings and Ursel Kramer due to their regular personal commitment on site. All in all with the great result that our children’s home in Balapitiya was elected “Best” children’s home on the west and south coast. However, this attractiveness has also led to the fact that the official authorities and courts are very happy to send new girls to Balaptiya and therefore more than 40 girls currently have to be cared for there. This is too much for the two matrons Nilani and Sanjeewani. Therefore a third matron has to come at short notice. We have been in contact with Mrs. Nilika, the new head of all ACBC children’s homes and the volunteer committee for a few months now and hope for a quick solution. However, even in Sri Lanka it is not easy to find committed women for comparatively low wages in social professions. But the girls are wonderful, especially the 3 who have just successfully passed their secondary school leaving certificate and are heading for their high school graduation in the middle of the year. That would be a great success. They are currently trying to give the little girls further tuition as assistant teachers with total commitment. We have encouraged the 3 girls to stay in the home in any case and finish their school career there. A Rosenkinder sponsorship would be the reward. Unfortunately, the usual return to family circles often leads to an abrupt end of school opportunities when they reach the age of 19. We do not give up and our dedicated team of 5 teachers, the matrons and the committee are happy to support us in this.
1.3 Current project “Rosenkinder Hostel” at the Vocational Training Center in Panadura in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)
Our visit this year to the Rosenkinder Hostel in Panadura has a somewhat tough history. Last year we had spontaneously decided to create an additional sleeping room due to the cramped conditions in the hostel and the increased need for education. Together with a necessary renovation of the old rooms, we quickly got the financing on track. Then there were some delays due to understandable reasons or partly also administrative slowness. In this respect we were very happy to be able to inaugurate the new room on February 20, 2020. After all, thirteen girls had already moved into the hostel since the beginning of 2020 and had started their training at the State Training Centre. It was quite narrow, because the new room could only be used after my opening ceremony. So are the customs there. In addition, four more girls were to move in at short notice. The inspection took place while the painter was still busy. But we were satisfied. Also with the fact that in addition to the textile and cosmetic professions, toddlers or baby care is now also offered as a new branch of training in the training centre. What we were most pleased about, however, was that our 13 girls were not only pleased with our small gifts, but were also extremely communicative. Good prospects.
Another important point of our trip this year was our wish to visit an internship and/or work company of the girls from the Rosenkinder Hostel trained by us, for example as seamstress or in the textile quality control department. This was then made possible for us in the neighbouring village of Wadduwa. Three former girls from Panadura now work there. The company has 365 employees and is state-certified for working conditions and premises. By the way, this is also a prerequisite for the employment of girls from the various children’s homes of ACBC or our hostel. The company produces various textile products for the American market. We were positively surprised about the company. The working conditions are quite tough, but the premises are modern and the pay is very decent compared to our other experiences. The hostel room provided free of charge by the company for the 3 girls was also quite ok. So all in all it was a very reassuring visit.
1.4 Current project – support of the blind and deaf children’s home in Mahaweewa in cooperation with All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)
Last year we visited this special children’s home for the first time. It is quite different from the other 16 boys’ and girls’ homes of the ACBC. On the one hand, both girls and boys are accommodated there and, on the other hand, there is a distinction between blind and deaf from very young to a maximum of 19 years of age. Since many of the children also suffer from Down’s syndrome, a real challenge for those responsible. It is nice that on the huge area – a donation of a very famous painter in Sri Lanka many decades ago – there is also a school for the handicapped children. Also used by disabled children from the region. All in all, an impressive facility, which in this case will probably also receive a decent amount of state financial aid. But unfortunately not enough. Food and other general donations are necessary and the premises as a whole are very, very simple, but tidy and as clean as it is possible in Sri Lanka in always open premises. We are already welcomed at the gate by a musical procession of the children. Afterwards we go to a classroom for three classes. This has been converted into an event room. We are proudly shown what the children have learned since last September in the pedagogical music and dance lessons financed by us. That was very impressive. There were some speeches, the obligatory “Oil Lamp”, of course the National Song of Sri Lanka and a very moving presentation of our gifts with very personal contact to the children. Besides, a professor and another lecturer from the nearby university were invited for our second project. It is about setting up a garden on the huge grounds. On the one hand an integration project of the children in the home with students and trainees of the university and on the other hand as a permanent source of income through the sale of the products. A mushroom farm is to be set up. The otherwise fallow land must first be intensively cleaned and reconditioned. We meet committed new helpers and especially a very effective and efficient head of organisation of the institution – Mr. Wije. We are already very curious what we will find on our next visit here. The contact with the children and the joy that we have made and that is reflected back to us is of course particularly impressive.
2.1 Other projects – New “Rosenkinder-Hostel” in Payagala
I have already reported in detail on the current project status in our “Rosenkinder” hostel in Panadura. We are proud of this facility, but so is the tour of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress. This kind of networked project between children’s homes, hostel, state training centre and the transition of the girls into a secure profession does not otherwise exist in Sri Lanka. Incentive enough that we already thought about a 2nd hostel a few years ago. This for boys and this for the particularly sought-after professions in the hotel industry. This year we had the opportunity to visit the potential new location – The ACBC – Pambe Jayanthi Child Development Center for Boys in Payagala. We visited this and experienced a very well run home, about 30 delightful boys and especially a very dedicated home manager. He has the ambition to create a life’s work by building a hostel at the place. The Vice President of all ACBC orphanages and the Vice President for Education at the ACBC accompanied our visit. We saw a large complex of buildings with a very well equipped and exemplary operated home. There behind, a little higher up, an unused further building, free for our 2nd hostel. Of course, considerable clean-up work, renovations and especially the creation of an adequate sanitary area are necessary. But after our experience in Panadura manageable. To the right of it another building as created as a state training centre for hotel professions. However, the progress of the project is currently suffering from this. Since there is already a training centre in the district, it is difficult to open a second one here, even though the demand for trained boys for the hotel business is very high here on the tourist west coast. But we were assured to do everything possible to open a hostel here next year. We are curious and will keep on going.
2.2 Other projects and “Rosenkinder” experiences
I could now report in detail about some more projects and experiences around our trip to the land of the “Rosenkinder” this year. Three of them have remained in special memory. Of course we also visited “our” dancing school in Amunagama during our round trip and stay in Kandy. We did not invest anything there at the moment, but the gratitude and joy about the wooden floor financed by us was still great as well as the weather- and monkey-proof new roof. In the meantime, the roof is also additionally insulated against the typical sun, so that the tropical temperatures during dance training are not too hot. We were rewarded again with a great one-hour show.
Then we were guests of honour at the central sports festival of all 17 children’s homes of the ACBC in Colombo. Of course we also met the girls and boys from Balapitiya, Mahaweewa and Payagala again. Altogether a huge event with about 400 sporty children from all homes. Sports competitions took place, demonstrations in taekwondo and mass dances, also speeches, a parade and especially a big award ceremony. But what was great was the incredibly happy crowd of children.
We also planned to visit our project in the north of Sri Lanka, in the former civil war area. Unfortunately this had to be cancelled at short notice. The reason was not that the project was not finished, but that the supervising military was called to the capital on the scheduled day. However, one can only enter the area with military escort. At least we met Captain Mahesh (picture middle), the project manager there, in the Briefgarden. We were sad that our visit had to be cancelled, but we assured that we would come back next year.
…and much more ……….of it in words, pictures and videos at our general meeting
But – “we” had of course also vacation and many other beautiful Experiences in Sri Lanka 2020!
3. how does it continue!?
As already announced we are in the middle of planning and preparing our 14th general meeting on 26 April 2020 at 17:00 in the restaurant of Stamm in Uetersen. The official invitation with the usual and necessary documents will go out in about 14 days. But it is important to block the date if possible. There is – as I said – a lot to report and we already start with the preparation of the next trip to Sri Lanka 2021. There we have something special/new planned.