Dear club members, dear other club supporters,
I sincerely hope that you have all started the new year successfully and in good health. Actually, it should be an encouraging sign that Sri Lanka has been letting tourists back into the country since last Thursday after 10 months of “Corona tourist lock down”. Even nicer, a direct flight from Frankfurt to Colombo with Sri Lankan Airlines was set up and personally opened by the new ambassador in Berlin, Mrs Manori Unambuwe. The two pictures taken yesterday of the paradisiacal empty beach in Beruwala also bring me a lot of “Sri Lanka homesickness”. However, this also has its strong downside. The infection situation in Sri Lanka seems to be just now really developing and then the opening. Also, the currently established hygiene rules for tourists in the country are strict and not very enticing. This is unsuitable for a Rosenkinder project stay with a visit to our various projects. In other words, we have to be patient and continue to hope that perhaps by autumn some normality will set in. As a vaccinated Central European, one can perhaps venture to Sri Lanka again. I am and remain an optimist.
Apart from that, there is a lot going on at the moment with the Rosenkinder projects in Sri Lanka, despite Corona. We are currently in contact and coordinating with our helpers.
1. Current project “Rosenkinder” Sponsorships in cooperation with the Lions Club Aluthgama/Bentota
With Chandani and Dooland from the Lions Club, we are currently in the process of coordinating the continuation of our 69 sponsorships as of next month. This is a lot of detailed work, especially for our two helpers in Sri Lanka. We are looking for contacts to the “Rose Children” or other helpers such as the monk Dr. Kirinde in Kotapola. It was nice to hear from him that two “rose children” from his community successfully completed their studies at the end of the year. Chamari, now 29 years old after 11 years of sponsorship, has finished her business studies in Colombo. A girl from a poor migrant worker family with 2 siblings on her way into business. The country also has a new medical doctor. Sandun, now 28 years old, even finished his studies as second best in his year after 7 years of support. Also a son from a poor family without a fixed income. Of course, Dr. Kirinde immediately offered us two new “rose children” in exchange. However, the clarification of the family situation etc. is still in progress. More about this at the next opportunity.
In the 59th members’ newsletter, I had happily reported about the study place and the planned start of the sponsorship for 23-year-old Dilmi. Even then, it was a tragic family story. The mother is severely mentally handicapped and in need of care at home by her father. The sister Sukuni was already being supported by us in her studies. The elder brother supported the parents as a clerk in a supermarket. The father had a serious accident last month and was in hospital for a long time. He was discharged and died after a few days. The brother had taken care of the father in the hospital. This is necessary in Sri Lanka, because in the state hospitals the family has to take care of the food. Therefore, he could not work and lost his job. Currently, Dooland and a monk who looks after the family are trying to get the brother back into work and to organise care for the mother. The aim is for both girls to study. I will report further on this.
In the 60th member information I had reported in detail about the successful support of the 3 children of the Wickramapathne family from Kurunagele. Also that Amurudhika, now 26 years old, got married last November. Today I can submit a picture of the happy bride and groom. So, all in all, there is still a lot of life in the circle of our Rose Children Sponsorship Project.
2. Current project special education at the Anula Wijerama Children Home in Balapitiya in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)
For the 35 girls currently living in the children’s home in Balapitiya, it might be possible to return to normal school attendance at the end of this month. Then they will also be able to attend the remedial classes financed by us live in the home again. An end to the difficult “children’s home schooling”. At the moment, the home is still closed to all visitors and also to our teachers. But the girls, the matrons and the teachers are grateful and happy that we have continued our support without any restrictions even in Corona times. We have even extended this to include regular food aid. As is now common practice worldwide, I recently had an impressive ZOOM conference with Petra Gerlings from Essen, Nilani the matron, of course the girls in the home and our English teacher as translator. Many thanks to the Rosenkinder members.
Apart from the general life in the home, the development at school and the Rosenkinder special support, an essential element for the future of the girls is the qualification for a life after the home. In many cases, the girls remain in the home even after they have finished school. Then all that remains is work in the home or looking after the younger “sisters” in everyday life. After that, vocational training often begins. This is usually organised by state agencies with the volunteer committee of the home. Only state-controlled establishments are authorised to do this. So far so good. What is not so good is that in the past many girls from Balapitiya did their training in gemstone cutting factories. From my point of view and experience, these are not particularly nice and sustainable jobs. Our efforts to train girls from Balapitiya in our Rose Children’s Hostel in Panadura or in hotel businesses known to me have not been very successful so far. However, Petra Gerlings was successful in arranging a training seminar for dental assistants in Colombo. Here you can see Niani, who successfully completed her training last year. On her left is the project leader. Niani is now well paid and works in a dental practice. What is particularly nice, however, is that a second girl is now taking part in the training seminar. That is Supuni in the pink skirt with her colleagues. Last year, Supuni only achieved a mediocre secondary school leaving certificate, which is not enough to continue her schooling. In this respect, the training is a great opportunity for the girl. By the way, Supuni is Niani’s little sister. Siblings in the children’s home are also not uncommon. We don’t really want to know what family suffering is the cause of this. But we all continue to fight together for a good future for all the girls in Balapitiya.
3. Current project “Rosenkinder Hostel” at the Vocational Training Center in Panadura in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)
There is no news from our hostel and the announced pictures of the new class of 2021 have not yet arrived. However, this January is also exciting for the volunteer leaders of ACBC. After the end of the current term of office, there will be a new election of officers at the end of the month. It is unclear to me, even after my many years of experience, what pattern this will follow. Apparently, however, it is not always clear to our contacts and helpers at ACBC. Incidentally, the new election concerns the entire management of ACBC, including the management of the 14 children’s homes. We are curious about the new or old contact persons at ACBC.
4. Other projects
Life at the ACBC children’s home for blind and deaf-mute children in Mahaweewa and the school on the premises continue to suffer from the consequences of Corona. At least, however, the university in charge has now equipped the prepared mushroom farm with cultivation packages. Unfortunately, this project has not yet worked out as an integration project, the active cooperation of the children in the home with the students and interns of the university. Let’s continue to wait for it and be happy that there will soon be lots of fresh mushrooms in the home.
In January 2021 there was another meeting with the young families “Care for the unborn Child”, which we also support. Except for the one mother in the picture, the newborns are all in the world by now. Unfortunately, due to Corona’s absence from the monthly distribution, the usual part of the medical check-up is also missing. I hope that there will be another full meeting soon, not only with the helpers from the Lions Club, but also with the babies and the medical staff in a health center and not further out of the boot. It was also impressive that Dooland and his wife Nandani brought a small tree for each mother and baby respectively, to plant for the new earthlings. Beautiful symbolism.
Very remarkable was another project of our Lions Club last weekend. This one is not financed by the “Rose Children”, but privately by Chandani (here in action), our helper with the sponsorships. 5,000 medical masks and 5 liter of disinfectant, all in small packages, were distributed to over 100 students and teachers in a school in Kosgada. It is nice to see that the direct personal involvement of our Lions Club continues under Corona conditions. Another blood donation event will be organized soon. This also remains important and necessary.
5. Other information
Unfortunately, I have to come back to our scheduling. At the moment we cannot be quite sure whether our 15th General Assembly with a reading by Dr. Umes can take place on Sunday, 25 April 2021. The further development or opening after further development of the corona incidence remains to be seen. More confidence then for Sunday 8 August 2021, our 15th Association birthday. I will report further. No trip to Sri Lanka in February 2021, but continue full Rose Children program in Sri Lanka.
Yours / yours