Dear club members, dear other club supporters,
Generally speaking, globally speaking and also in terms of the Rosenkinder, a special year is coming to an end, one with special challenges and many horror stories. When we set off again for Sri Lanka last February 2022 after a year’s break from Corona, we thought we had the worst behind us. In fact, this seems to be the case with regard to the impact of Corona, or rather, other things determine the general situation on our continent. I am, of course, limiting myself here to our challenges in Sri Lanka. However, the global supply situation of energy sources in combination with the national bankruptcy in Sri Lanka have made the local situation in Sri Lanka worse and worse in the course of the year 2022. The situation has currently eased somewhat because Sri Lanka has now been classified by the World Monetary Fund (WWF) as one of the poorest countries in the world and is thus able to obtain loans and fresh foreign currency again. Also, all travel warnings and recommendations by our Foreign Office for travel to Sri Lanka have recently been lifted. This hopefully means a return of tourist income and hopefully a slow improvement of the economic situation. Deutsche Welle published a report on Sri Lanka this week that is well worth seeing. The personal situation in the tea-picking family portrayed there can be found in many of our Rosenkinder families.
This year, we were able to adjust the “Rose Children” and our current projects in such a way that, according to our perception and the reports of our many voluntary helpers, we have survived this year well in terms of our projects. We have fully used the currency decline of about 70% of the Sri Lankan Rupee and the resulting currency advantage for the EURO for special emergency aid measures to help our 200 children and families. This is a good compensation for the current inflation rate of about 70%. However, we were shocked by the news that hunger has returned to Sri Lanka on a broad front. Therefore, the result of our Advent campaign FIGHT CHILD HUNGER, which we concluded last Sunday, is particularly gratifying. The combination of the proceeds from the exhibition of our member Lilli Erett, combined with our street collection, a Christmas neighbourhood event and many spontaneous actions of our members have resulted in special income of about 4,400 EURO. This is equivalent to the value of 17,000 school meals. This income as well as the financing of the continuation of all our current projects have just been determined or decided by the board of our association and the money is already on its way to Sri Lanka. In this respect, our association concludes this year of special challenges.
And what about the rest of our projects?
1. Current project “Rosenkinder” Sponsorship in cooperation with the Lions Club Aluthgama/Bentota
The planning and review of the 71 children/young people currently supported by us through our helpers in Sri Lanka has already been started. The current support period ends in January 2023 and the new six-month support period will start in February. How nice that we are back in the country and can meet so many of our “rose children” in person. The opportunity, or rather our aspiration, is to find out about their personal situation directly. In any case, our sponsored children will continue to receive our separate monthly crisis aid of 2,000 rupees in addition to the regular monthly support. There is no doubt about the necessity of this, given the supply situation in the country as already described.
We are currently supporting 71 children and young adults between the ages of 11 and 27. I would like to introduce our youngest child or oldest student to you today. Dumidu Lakshan Dumidu is 11 years old and goes to the 5th grade of the National School in Kotapola. This is a poor region, where we are known to have a focus of our sponsorships. The boy has a little sister of 2 years. The father is a simple labourer without permanent employment and income. The family has no fixed accommodation, let alone a house of their own. However, he has been proudly wearing the Rosenkinder button on his chest for 4 years. W.G.Nimasha Lakmali is 27 years old and a doctor-to-be. The family is also from Kotapola. However, Nimasha is studying in faraway Kandy and is due to take her exams in March 2023. Whether we will see her during our planned visit to Kotapola or whether she will study hard in Kandy, we will see. At least, alternatively, her mother will proudly show us her interim certificates. She is a housewife, her father a gardener and there are two siblings. Without our support for the Rosenkinder, her studies and thus the securing of her family’s future livelihood would not have been possible.
2. Current project special education at the Anula Wijerama Children Home in Balapitiya in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)
Our 35 girls in Balapitiya also survived this particular year of crisis well. We had taken precautions and reserved a special food budget. However, this budget remained untouched because enough food donations from the region arrived regularly for meals. However, because of the gas shortage, cooking is now traditionally done on wood. The 8 teachers we financed at the home were able to support and teach the girls at the home almost continuously this year. We have also supported the teachers three times with additional crisis money. Teachers in Sri Lanka receive a rather low salary in comparison and are happy about an additional income in times of severe crisis. However, there has also been a local natural disaster at the home this autumn. The seasonal monsoon brought down part of the wall around the home. In order to protect the facility and the girls in particular, we have financed materials for reconstruction at short notice. However, the work is still ongoing. Material is still in short supply.
We are especially proud of the ZOOM support dialogue with the 10 oldest girls in the home, which was introduced this year. Girls for whom the future in school or work is now of particular importance. We have held three digital dialogues this year. Of course, we are looking forward to having the next dialogue live on site on 6 February 2023. We accompanied 4 girls through their o-level exam time. The results are now available. 2 girls with such good results that a-level (Abitur) is possible with our further support. For the other two girls we are currently looking for an apprenticeship. Three more girls are in a-level support, two of them will start their exams next February, one girl in the following year. An eighth girl came to the home this year, 18 years old, no longer in school. She is to start right away in the new year with a vocational promotion in our Rosenkinder Hostel in Panadura. However, two of the girls left the home during the year and returned to their parents. The digital dialogues with the girls have not only given us good and up-to-date transparency, but also strengthened the sustainability of our support. The committee, but also the home management, was motivated to get involved, as were the teachers involved. In particular, the girls were proud and motivated to be in contact with us throughout the year. In the meantime, we are convinced that this innovation was a really good idea and, apart from transparency, significantly improves the sustainability of our help. Despite everything, we would of course prefer to meet the girls live again soon.
3. Children Home for blind and deaf-mute Children in Mahaweewa in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)
The really good news is that in Mahaweewa, with our help, people learned, received therapy and also played this year. So it is easy to forget that the planned establishment of a home garden for vegetables and fruit was not possible due to a lack of materials and fuel. The contracted company cancelled the order. However, the music, dance, English and IT lessons we supported took place throughout the year. The monthly speech therapy is also said to be a great success according to the committee there. All these measures will of course be continued by us in the coming year. A year ago, we insisted that the urgently needed renovation of the playground should not consist of supplies from China. Rather, craftsmen from Sri Lanka should be commissioned to do it, so that a lot of added value remains in the country. We had not guessed at the time that this was also the key to realising a beautiful playground at all this year. Imports of this kind were completely cancelled in 2022 due to foreign exchange selection. The playground could be inaugurated in autumn and as you can see, people are playing hard.
This is how we would like it to continue. Our member Melanie Bierut will leave for her next mission to Sri Lanka at the beginning of January 2023. In her luggage, or as a mission, she is to see to it that the free funds from the Heimgarten project are used for other important things. We would like to expand the speech therapy to include occupational therapy. As a trained occupational therapist, this is also an important and very meaningful project for the children in Sri Lanka. Then there is the matter of spending the donations from the Alabama Hot Six concert in autumn on therapeutic toys. Since on the one hand we can hardly send these things here from Germany and on the other hand there seems to be little of it in the country due to the economic crisis, this will be a real challenge for Melanie. However, we are convinced that Melanie’s 2nd mission will again be a great success for all sides. When we visit the project with the current Sri Lanka travel group on 15 February 2024, we will certainly be able to toast the renewed success of her mission with a good cup of Ceylon tea.
4. Current project “Rosenkinder Hostel” at the Vocational Training Center in Panadura in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)
Just this week, the second 2023 batch also successfully completed their training. In total, we have made it much easier for 30 girls to make the leap from home life to a self-determined life with a recognised training qualification. It was especially nice that this year two courses were possible without extensive Corona requirements. Both courses received a small amount of start-up money as a reward at the end of their training. In the accounting of the catering and other costs of our hostel, we were able to understand the 70% inflation rate when comparing the costs of the 1st to the 2nd year 2022. However, we were fully compensated for the inflation by the currency decline. During our planned visit in February, we will also meet the new matron. Ms. Pathma, who is now 70 years old, was succeeded by Ms. Gamage. Good care for the girls is also an essential aspect of our support. We are also looking forward to the new training course in 2023.
5. Planned project “Rose Children Hostel 2” at the Boy Children Home in Payagala in cooperation with the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)
Unfortunately, we were not able to start this newly planned project with our funding this year. This is a pity, because the necessary funds are available and reserved. This an outstanding result of a big birthday party of one of our members and his friends. We now have to carry the funds over to the new year. The economic situation in Sri Lanka and the resulting high inflation combined with a lack of materials has meant that we have not been presented with a cost and time schedule. This was promised to us again and again. An external company has been commissioned with the planning. We have also been assured that our ACBC volunteers have been on site time and again. However, we do not start projects and their financing without a sustainable planning document. In this respect, we travel to Sri Lanka with the great task of obtaining all the information during our 30-day stay, for a quick project start. The need for qualified training in organic farming as a strategic goal is beyond doubt.
6. Other Information
As the first big Rosenkinder highlight of 2024, we will start our 18th project trip to Sri Lanka on 3 February 2023. We are a travel team of 7 people in total. Together we will make a six-day round trip. Many project appointments in the total of 30 days are on the programme. However, Ayurveda will definitely provide the necessary relaxation in between. We have a lot of luggage with us. Apart from personal things, we have 200 pairs of children’s glasses, cleaned and measured. These are to be used at the big annual sports festival of all ACBC children’s homes. The selection of children with needs and medical care for the event is in preparation. We also received 15 kg of material for dental prophylaxis from the “Association for Dental Hygiene” thanks to an initiative of a member who travelled with us. As a former school dentist, she will also accompany us, so we will certainly put the material to good use in our many activities. Of course, we will also report live about our adventures and experiences on the platforms of our Rosenkinder homepage and in Facebook under Reisebericht-Live-2023. The link to this will be available shortly before our departure.
Further we have in our programme 2023:
- Literary Brunch on 26 March 2023 at 10am at Stamm’s Restaurant in Uetersen with Dr Umeswaran Arunagirinathan. He is looking forward to presenting his 4th book “Grundfarbe Deutsch” in our circle. So make a note of the date, and you will be invited to reserve the limited places at the end of January 2023.
- Also to note, because already arranged and booked, our 17th general meeting on 11 June 2023 at 11 am in the Stadthalle Uetersen. All further information will follow later, as usual.
It remains for me to say thank you for the unbroken good financial help of our loyal members as well as the multiple additional personal and creative help. Thank you for this in the name of our “rose children” and the many volunteers in Sri Lanka. This in the name of the entire board of our association.
We wish you a peaceful Christmas and a healthy, successful and hopefully more “peaceful” 2023.
Yours / yours