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57th letter of information

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Dear club members, dear other club sponsors,

The year 2020 will probably go down in history as the Corona Year worldwide. Who would have thought that we would have to change our usual daily routine and probably pretty much all our plans this year. Hopefully everyone is and remains healthy – our faithful and dear “Rosenkinder” congregation here in Europe and also in Sri Lanka. Of course Corona has paralyzed life in Sri Lanka as well. With currently according to WHO 1,877 infected and 8 deaths, certainly from our point of view very few infected people for a country with almost 22 million inhabitants. However, government measures against a pandemic were introduced very early and very restrictively. This was already noticeable during our last visit in February 2020. In March, however, the “lockdown” began with school closures and partial curfews. In some areas such as the capital Colombo and other regions even for a very long time. At present, however, the situation seems to be slowly returning to normal. When assessing the state measures, one must not forget that the current president, the new prime minister and also the minority government very consciously demonstrate the strong state in view of the still outstanding postponed parliamentary elections. Unfortunately, the ethnic minorities in particular are also suffering from the fact that state leadership is now once again nationalistic. But we were always in regular contact with our volunteers on site during Corona times and were even able to actively organize Corona help. As usual, more about this in our project overview:

1.0 New project “Corona aid packages” for the north of Sri Lanka

The “lockdown” has of course also led to a standstill of the economy and work in Sri Lanka. “Wumms projects” with huge financial volumes like here did not exist in Sri Lanka, as well as almost no social security. The day labourers and migrant workers as well as their families were and are without any income for months. However, food usually costs money and we have experienced the price development in Sri Lanka every year as very crisis-intensive. In short, this was an opportunity to help. We were assisted in this by the civic foundation of the VR Bank in Holstein and the heart surgeon Umeswaran Arunagirinathano, also known as Umes. We have had good contact with him for a very long time. He came to Germany 30 years ago as an unaccompanied 12 year old Tamil civil war refugee. With a lot of commitment and talent through high school graduation and studies, he became a heart surgeon, book author and leisure politician in Hamburg. Umes has already “read” from his two books twice in the circle of our club members. Of course, he has never forgotten his roots and family in the north of Sri Lanka. It was therefore not surprising that we learned through the social media that Umes was organising a relief project in his former home town near Jaffna for the families of unemployed and incomeless day labourers affected by the Corona crisis. This, in which he collected money here in Europe, transferred it to Sri Lanka via the Sri Lanka Association Hamburg and his family organized the help locally. The first wave is through and the money is spent. This gave us the idea to arrange for the financing of a second wave of aid. The civic foundation of the VR Bank in Holstein provided funds for non-profit associations for corona assistance. We applied with the Umes project and were then actually rewarded with a generous donation. The second wave is currently being organized and rolled out in another region in the north of Sri Lanka by the family of Umes. This takes place in Avarangal, a place that was particularly affected by the civil war. The gruesome civil war ended there in a terrible battle 11 years ago with countless victims. Only families who have no breadwinners or who are unemployed and without income are considered for our help. It is also ensured that no relatives abroad provide additional help. The aid consists of a food package with rice, dhal etc. for daily needs. The selected families are regularly cared for, for example, every 14 days over a period of 1 to 2 months. But we hope that August will return to normal life and regular income in Sri Lanka. The pictures here in the report are from the first wave and also show the radiant Umes in the middle of the picture in the circle of his now helping family during his last visit to Sri Lanka. Of course we will get many more pictures of the second “Rosenkinder” wave and we will of course report about it in the context of a further member information and/or in detail in the 14th general meeting. Maybe Umes will be there live.

1.1 Ongoing project “Rosenkinder” sponsorships in cooperation with the Lions Club Aluthgama/Bentota

Yes, our current 68 “Rosenkinder” sponsorships have been “Coron-free” since the end of March 2020. That means no teaching in schools and presence in universities. There is such a thing as organised “home-schooling” with homework, but digitisation is of course much less pronounced or not usable at all. All exams have been postponed to autumn/winter and it is planned to return to regular school and study in August. Our volunteers from the Lions Club Aluthgama Chandani and Dooland were of course also affected by “lockdown” and curfew. However, they have constantly and intensively taken care of the situation of the families we support. Because of our regular monthly payments to the “Rosenkinder” there was no need to organize special Corona help there. Only in one case of the brothers Dhanuka (9 years) and Harsha (12 years) we had to intervene with the help of Chandani. The two boys lost their father in 2016. Since April 2017 we have been supporting the boys, because the mother had no regular income and lived in very modest circumstances. We were also worried about Dhanuka, with his ear disfigured since birth. Here we also want to help medically. At our meeting with the boys this year last February, we noticed that they had not only deteriorated considerably at school, but also that their mother was no longer in the country. They came with the aunt. The mother was reported to us, has been working for half a year for 2 years in Qatar. The grandmother should take care of the children during this time. A month ago we received a call for help that she could not access our regular support money for the boys. The mother had not organised any account powers of attorney and had not left any powers of attorney for the medical aid planned for us for Dhanuka. In this respect, a second payment with access for the grandmother was organized. This situation for the boys makes us sad, but also ambitious to help and support them. The pictures here are from our first visit in 2017 or the last meeting in February 2020.

1.2 Ongoing project remedial teaching at the Anula Wijerama Children Home in Balapitiya in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)

In the beginning, the 40 girls in the children’s home were certainly happy about the lockdown and the cancelled lessons. In the beginning, our 6 teachers also provided for daily lessons in the children’s home. With the curfew it was over and Nilani and Sanjeewani the two matrons had the “full fun” with the girls around the clock. Nilani’s mother also took care of the kitchen, because our plan to quickly recruit a third matron could unfortunately not be realized in these times. We also got news about the results of the o-level exams of our three girls last December. Twice good and once not passed, it is encouraging that at least two of the girls will be able to prepare for an a-level (A-levels) starting in autumn as the next step. Thanks to WhatsApp, we are now regularly informed with a few words, but all the more pictures of Nilani. Our member Petra Gerlings got a message from one of the teachers. Also due to Corona, the monthly payments for tuition were no longer necessary. Lockdown also means no mail and very limited banking. In Colombo, with the headquarters of the ACBC children’s homes and depository of our payments, there was also the long fixed curfew. In the end we managed to organize a money transaction towards Balapitiya by means of a special permit for the head of the children’s homes and the treasurer of the ACBC. The teachers got their earned money again. By the way, for the entire time of the “lockdown”, because these are also in the times otherwise completely without fixed income for living. As already reported, no “wumms” and no social system on the part of the government. The pictures shown here are from the last full moon day in June. Every month a high holiday in Sri Lanka. We keep our fingers crossed that from August onwards a regular daily routine will return to the children’s home with school, guests and regular food donations for the home and perhaps soon a third matron.

1.3. Current project “Rosenkinder Hostel” at the Vocational Training Center Panadura in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)

Of course, in Corona times it was impossible to think of a regulated operation in our hostel and the adjacent state training centre. First we got the message that all 13 girls should be sent back to their home orphanages of the ACBC. Then it didn’t work out because of the nationwide curfews. After all, the girls are well looked after and cared for by our support. We are very curious to see when regular operations will resume in Panadura.

1.4 Other projects

We were very happy that already in April the work for the realization of our second project in the ACBC children’s home for blind and deaf-mute children in Mahaweewa was started. Through renovation and securing, buildings for a mushroom farm were created. The cooperation between the supervising university and the home as well as joint work of students and disabled children could begin. Corona-induced was then in April already an end to it. Of the 60 children, 54 children were returned to their families. Of course, the school operation in the home was also discontinued. The remaining 6 children are cared for by the matron around the clock since then. In the region of Mahaweewa there were the most corona falls. Hence the strictest and longest curfews. The reason was probably returning home or family visits to northern Italy. Many people from Sri Lanka have settled there because of their work. We hope that the children’s home will be re-started soon and that our two projects will continue.

Finally and finally we got pictures of the renovation of the Ampakamam School in the north of Sri Lanka, which we financed last year. Captain Mahesh who was doing the handicrafts with his soldiers sent us these pictures via Whatsapp. We hope to visit the school ourselves next year. Currently this school is of course also closed in the lonely farm area near Mankulam in the north of Sri Lanka. We were told that the visit of this very lonely region is currently very dangerous and only possible with larger convoys. The reason is wild elephants, which have reconquered this fertile agricultural region for food during Corona times with curfew. Perhaps a sensible military mission to enable the pupils to return to school soon by protecting them from herds of elephants.

2.0 Status 14th Members Assembly “Rosenkinder” (Rose Children)

As previously announced, then postponed due to Corona and then rescheduled, we still have the intention to continue on

– Saturday, 8th August 2020 at 03.00 pm

to conduct our 14th general meeting. We have reserved the Stadthalle in Uetersen for this. Due to Corona, however, we have not yet been able to conclude a rental agreement with the city of Uetersen. Basically, according to the valid Corona rules in Schleswig-Holstein, such an event is possible under observance of the safety rules. That means a hygiene concept, distance, ventilation etc. on the one hand, but on the other hand a chance to finally meet and see each other again and experience live information, pictures and videos of our projects. As soon as we have a firm agreement with the city on the use of the building, the invitations will go out. Intended and hopefully in July for a meeting on the 14th anniversary of the foundation of our association. That would be nice and I would like that very much.

To all of you I wish a nice summer, good health and I will continue to come well and safely through the Cornoa times.

You / Your

Dieter Kaske