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67th letter of information

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Dear club members, dear other club supporters,

Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is not out of the current headlines. More than three months ago, in our last regular member information, I had already reported on the political and economic crisis and its consequences in the country of the “Rosenkinder”. This was followed in April by a special member information on the topic. Even on 15 May 2022, the day of our 16th General Assembly, there was unfortunately nothing to report about an easing or improvement of the situation. This week also starts in many media with the headline “Military shoots at demonstrators for the first time”. Unfortunately, all this does not look like a quick easing of the situation. Sri Lanka is on the brink of national bankruptcy and can no longer meet its internal and external financial obligations. Although there is now a new prime minister and many new ministers, the old power structure around the Rajapaksa family continues to exist because the president refuses to step down. Although one does not hear much about unrest in the country at present, because the population probably has enough to do with providing food, gas for cooking and much more on a daily basis. The inflation rate is currently 45% and the euro to rupee exchange rate has improved from 220 to 380 rupees for one euro for “us” since our return from Sri Lanka at the beginning of March. This makes everything almost unaffordable for the population, especially things that come from abroad for hard foreign currency are no longer available. Due to the government’s import ban, there is a shortage of supplies in all areas, including medical care. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka remains a beautiful country with nice, friendly people, just our country of the “Rosenkinder”.

Due to the current special circumstances in the country of the “Rosenkinder”, the board of our association took this crisis situation as an opportunity in its meeting yesterday and not only continued the financing for all our current projects, but also adapted it to the special circumstances. After all, our “Rosenkinder” should continue to receive the best possible sustainable support, even if certain restrictions are unavoidable. The following reports on the status of the projects and how things are progressing. The minutes of our 16th general meeting are also attached. For the first time, we have also made it possible to view the pictures or slides of the Board’s report of the meeting etc. via a “link”. Have fun with it.

1. Current project “Rosenkinder” Sponsorship in cooperation with the Lions Club Aluthgama/Bentota

At the moment, we sponsor 74 children. The current sponsorship period expires at the end of July 2022 and a 6-month extension is due in August 2022. Our long-time friends and helpers Chandani and Dooland from the Lions Club are currently in the process of finding out the material and school/study status of the sponsored children for the upcoming continuation of our aid. This is of course a big task in the current situation in the country, but indispensable for the sustainable success of our support. As you know, we differentiate in the amount of financial support for these sponsorship in three categories: Basic sponsorship, high school graduates and students. Through Corona, financial bridging of waiting periods has also been added. In the long term, we cannot and do not want to reflect the collapse of the currency in connection with the shortage of supplies and the price explosion in the amount of our support. No one can judge how the situation will change in a few months. Therefore, the board has decided to pay a monthly crisis aid of 2,000 rupees for all our sponsorship for the next 6 months and uniformly for all three categories. We hope and think that our sponsored children and especially their families can use this special support very well. In addition to our sponsorship, the Lions Club Aluthgama/Bentota looks after and has 14 other “own” sponsored children in permanent sponsorship. In the current economic situation, these sponsors are not in a position to provide additional crisis aid. In recognition of the 14 years of “indispensable” cooperation for the success of our projects, we will therefore also support these 14 sponsored children with the special payments.

In addition, the Lions Club is currently running the project “Care for the unborn child” for five mothers or babies for a total of 15 months. We are fully involved with three of the five mothers. The board of the “Rosenkinder” will also include all five in the described additional crisis support for the next 6 months. Regular support is secured through a budget reserved for this purpose. After so much crisis and reaction to it, there are also small positive things to report. Finally, after Corona, the monthly meeting with the five mothers or babies in this project is taking place again in the health center with medical and nursing support. Also, two of our 74 sponsored children finally have their mother back after 3 years. At our meeting last February, Harsha and Dhanuka were still at the Briefgarden meeting with their grandmother who was in poor health. We learned that after 3 years of working in Saudi Arabia, the mother was held there without papers and remaining wages and could not return. We were able to start a rescue operation through our Lions Club and their connections in the Ministry of Workers Abroad, which ended successfully last month with the return of the mother with papers and wages. Today’s pictures show the two boys and their status with Care for the unborn child as a positive sign of our reliable help.

2. Current project special education at the Anula Wijerama Children Home in Balapitiya in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)

Despite the national crisis, the support of the 35 girls continues successfully. The food supply continues to be secured through regular donations from the population. Buddhism and the motivation to “do good” for one’s own future helps to “do good” despite one’s own current limitations. Recently, there were 2 changes in the total of eight teachers financed by us. The new geography teacher started work in March. This is of particular benefit to the girls who are preparing for the Abitur this year or next year. The previous homework teacher got married this month and moved away. In a short time, the head of the voluntary committee – also a teacher in the profession – was able to suggest a replacement to us. This was done transparently for us with written application and detailed information about qualification etc. Thus, the support of the girls in the first classes continues seamlessly. The newly introduced development dialogue for the 10 oldest girls in the home was also continued. First conducted live on site last February – continued at the end of May via ZOOM conference with 9 of these girls, the committee, the matron and also with Mrs. Nilika the head of all ACBC. The missing girl for the first conference had returned to the family at her or her parents’ request. The other 9 girls were very happy to share their goals with us. 5 of the girls had o-level exams the following week and felt well prepared. 3 girls are preparing for the a-level exam. It was supposed to be in October, but will probably be postponed to the following year. The next dialogue is planned for August.

Of course, the 8 teachers and 2 matrons are also affected by the consequences of the current crisis in Sri Lanka. It is expected that the supply situation in the country will worsen in August. Therefore, the Board has also decided to provide additional financial support for the teachers and matrons for the 2nd half of 2022. We are also providing an additional budget to buy food if needed. It is conceivable that donations for the home from the public will decrease or cease altogether if the supply situation continues to worsen. Overall, however, in close coordination with the ACBC leadership, we are convinced that we can guarantee the best possible support for the girls under the circumstances. And this has been the case for 13 years now.

3. Children Home for blind and deaf-mute Children in Mahaweewa in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)

Our various projects in Mahaweewa are also affected by the current situation in Sri Lanka. The music and dance classes continued without any restrictions and the English and IT classes, which we financed, also started. This month also saw the start of weekly occupational therapy for 5 to 10 children by local professionals. Our member Melanie Bierut had successfully provided this during her visit or her work as an expert on site and suggested a continuation. The renovation and re-equipping of the playground for the children is now to begin. We had insisted on procuring new equipment exclusively made in Sri Lanka. As a precautionary measure, we rejected the proposed alternatives imported from China. The garden project that was started is currently only being continued by mushroom farm. The extensive earthwork and transport for the large vegetable and fruit garden can unfortunately not start due to lack of fuel for material and equipment. Just this week, the entire ACBC leadership visited Mahaweewa. The 24th commemoration day of the donor of this facility, the very famous Sri Lankan artist Welimuni Solius Mendis, was celebrated. The President of ACBC Mr. Chandra Nimal Wakishta was also present. More from him in a moment under 5.

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

This month, the training of the 15 girls from the various children’s homes of ACBC that we support ended successfully in our hostel. It is especially nice that for the first time after 2 years of Corona restrictions and thus an extended training period of one year, two training cohorts are possible again this year. The 15 girls of the current year are now all trained to work in the textile industry and had an exciting month. Among other things, they got to know their future workplace. We had visited this factory during our visit to Sri Lanka about 2 years ago. One often hears not so nice things in the industry. However, we found an exemplarily organized company with very good wages for Sri Lanka. And even better, or very important in Sri Lanka – the girls were awarded a diploma at a central ACBC event in Colombo this week. Our helpers and trainers were also honoured. We also gave the girls a graduation bonus for their start. From July, a new cohort of up to 18 girls will move into Panadura. At the end of their time in the children’s homes, they will also receive training and stay in our Rosenkinder Hostel. The hostel will now also get better sanitary facilities, because this was not enough when we financed the extension 4 years ago. By the end of the year, a total of about 200 girls in Panadura will have received training to start a free life.

5. Planned project “Rose Children Hostel 2” at the Boy Children Home in Payagala in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)

The ACBC President Mr. Chandra Nimal Wakishta, who was just mentioned, is continuing his efforts to ensure that the work for our second hostel in Payagala can start soon. Many things are in place and have been clarified, only the coordination with the state authorities is difficult in the current political situation. Cost calculations are also difficult with the current inflation rate. Basically, we agree with the responsible authorities that the clean-up and renovation work in the two large parts of the building should start soon. This will bring work and money for the workers for daily life. The coordination with the state authorities for the establishment of the organic farming training and thus the transfer of some free adjacent land areas for the training should hopefully also work out soon if the efforts continue to be strong. After all, organic farming is currently very much in focus in Sri Lanka. Last year, the Minister of Agriculture declared the country organic in order to save on the import of fertilisers and pesticides. The result was the loss of almost the entire harvest and probably the second harvest this year after this wrong political decision. In this respect, the need for trained young organic farmers is hugely strategic for the government. On the occasion. Due to a large belated birth celebration of a member and his 4 friends in Braunschweig with very large donations, the financing of this project also seems to be already secured.

6. Other information

On 13 August, as every year, we want to celebrate our association’s birthday a little. This will again take place at Heidredder 3 at 6 pm in the garden of the Kaske family. An invitation with a short registration form will be sent out separately in mid-July 2022. On that day there will also be a meeting of the members of the association who are interested in travelling with us to Sri Lanka in February 2023. We continue to have hope for this. After the current crisis, the country urgently needs tourists again and therefore also Rosenkinder members to visit.

The following is currently planned for a trip in the 2nd week of February 2023:

  • one night at the elephant orphanage in Pinnewala
  • hiking in Horton National Park and tea from the highlands around Nuwara Eliya
  • Visit to the sacred sites of Kataragama
  • Visit of our project at the home for blind and deaf children in Mahaweewa
  • back to the sponsored children in Kotoapola near Sinharaja Rainforest

A total of 5 nights, followed by an Ayurveda and/or beach holiday according to taste and need. Of course, further Rosenkinder project dates will be offered if there is interest. If you are interested, please contact me now “without obligation” and reserve 13 August 2022 – 4 pm for a first travel group meeting before the Rosenkinder birthday.

For the planned benefit concert with Alabama Hot Six on Friday, 28 October 2022 at 7 pm, the Stadthalle Uetersen is already booked. So make a note of it already.

It only remains to say thank you to our loyal members and donors and to wish them a nice and healthy summer 2022. Perhaps we will see each other on the dates just mentioned.

Yours / yours

Dieter Kaske