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75th letter of information

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Dear club members, dear other club supporters,

It’s summer, or at least it should be. However, for many people here in the country, the last few days/weeks have been characterised by storms and flooding. The fact that the days before had already brought us midsummer temperatures was quickly forgotten. The whole thing is called climate change and our “rose children” in Sri Lanka are currently also very badly affected by it. In February, at the time of our visit this year, we already had unusually hot, but also relatively dry days. We enjoyed the fact that the mosquitoes didn’t like it so much. However, this hot period lasted until April and was replaced by a very early and intense monsoon season. Our member Petra Gerlings, who worked for us again in May at the girls’ children’s home in Balapitiya, was able to tell me about this. However, the situation has worsened over the last 10 days. High water, storms, flooding and landslides. 23 out of 25 government districts are affected, especially the south of the country. Almost 200,000 people are homeless, 30 people have already died and all schools are temporarily closed. The pictures here are from the Denijaja / Kotapola region, where almost 40 of our sponsored children and their families live. The landslide is on the route between the villages and the flooding shows our monk Dr Kirinde, who otherwise looks after the welfare of our sponsored children. We hope for quick improvement and help, here and in Sri Lanka. However, global climate change and the resulting disasters are here to stay and require a global rethink of how we treat our planet.

But our member information is intended to focus in particular on our Rosenkinder projects and the latest news. There have indeed been a number of positive developments. Here is the latest report on our projects, still characterised by some of the events of our trip this year:

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

With 70 sponsorships currently active, the current sponsorship period is still running, including next July. This means that our two helpers from the Lions Club will be contacting the children/young people again next month to find out how they are doing at school or university and to prepare the continuation of our support for the next 6 months. We are very excited about the situation in the family of our sponsored child Hirusha, whom we have been supporting for around 1 ½ years out of a family emergency situation. During our visit last year, we also got to know his older sister, who was about to take her A-level exams. For whatever reason, the brother was prioritised for sponsorship, but we insisted that the sister Karsushka should also be sponsored by Rosenkinder if necessary. This year, in February, she completed her a-level exam. The results should be available in the next few days and our helpers from the Lions Club have been instructed to look at the results and the girl’s future life plans with the option of a Rosenkinder sponsorship. Once again an example that the support of girls in Sri Lanka is a priority task of the Rosenkinder according to our statutes.

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

Of course, the highlight of the first half of 2024 for the girls in Balapitya was the fact that our member Petra Gerlings was back on site in May. Although we ourselves had also visited on an hourly basis in February, 14 days on site provides better orientation for all sides. For us, where else can we help – for the girls, what are the options for the future – for matrons and the committee, what is important to us in this project. In addition, during Petra’s stay, the representatives of the Probation Office (Sri Lanka’s youth welfare office) were also on site and we were able to discuss the future of the girls with this institution, which has a say in the matter, via Petra. During Petra’s presence, we also conducted the regular quarterly ZOOM dialogue with the currently 9 oldest girls. Petra on site and us here in front of the computer. Two girls are scheduled for training and are going to the Rosenkinder Hostel in Panadura. 3 girls who have just passed their o-level exams are doing a three-month English course and will then hopefully start their preparation for the a-level exam. 1 girl is still taking her a-level exams this year with the hope of studying with our support. 1 other girl wants to leave the home and return to her mother. We are still waiting for our Woshini to finally be able to prove her musical talent with a place at university. The current alternatives are to study to become a teacher or to do music in the military. Unfortunately still exciting. Petra was also able to meet the third matron, Ms Nandani, who has now arrived. We had been pushing for many years, because in our opinion Nilani and Sanjewanni were not enough to look after the 35 or so girls in the children’s home.

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

During our visit in February, and even more so when our member Melanie Bierut returned, we discovered that there are currently many staffing and organisational problems in everyday life at the boarding school and in the school. There are staff shortages among the matrons at the boarding school and space problems with the girls’ accommodation at the boarding school. In particular, however, there is a voluntary committee that, in our opinion, does not do enough for the boarding school and coordination with the school. Of course, we are currently continuing our support, but we have also informed the ACBC management of our view of the situation and suggested possible solutions. Clarification of this is still ongoing and has been delayed due to the many public holidays in recent months and the climate. However, we expect a clarification in the next week. After all, it is already clear that Melanie will be back on site in January 2025. In addition, we are currently trying to organise further support from Rosenkinder in Mahaweewa this autumn. More about this in the next newsletter.

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

We were able to meet the girls in the first round of this year in person during our visit to the Rosenkinder Hostel in February. Of course, Shehara and Amasha from Balapitiya were also there. As already described, they will be replaced by Anjalika and Samasri from Balapitiya and will receive qualified training in the second round in 2024. Petra Gerlings also visited Panadura again during her visit in May. She realised that there is currently a shortage of a second matron here too. The ACBC has been endeavouring to recruit a sufficient number of people all year. Unfortunately, this has been unsuccessful so far, as Sri Lanka is currently looking for work. Our helpers at ACBC Education are currently under a lot of stress. More on this in a moment.

5. „planned“ Projekt „Rosenkinder Hostel 2“ beim Boy Children Home in Payagala in Zusammenarbeit mit dem All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC)

HURRAY, “planned” became a “started” project. As part of our trip this year, we were also guests of honour at the sports festival of all ACBC children’s homes. Usually, someone from the world of politics is always invited. This year it was Sagala Ratnayaka – “Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor to the President”. A great title and an impressive man we know. Many years ago, we were invited to tea at his private home near Kotapola through Dooland. A very nice welcome and even better his order to the army to support us in our project in the north at the time, the renovation of the Ampakamam village school. I was able to talk to him briefly at the sports festival, later exchange ideas via WhatsApp and explain our problems with the realisation of our planned Rosenkinder Hostel 2 in Payagala in a long email after our return to Germany.

To our great joy and that of our helpers from the ACBC, the army once again received the order to support us with our project in Payagala. In principle, we are paying for the necessary materials to repair and expand our new hostel and the state-run Vocational Training Centre. We received the first material lists in quick succession for Sri Lanka and the Rosenkinder Board immediately provided the first project budget for the start of the work. They have now been running for 3 weeks with around 20 craftsmen from the army. This is all being supervised by the architects we commissioned, Suresh and Madhuka, in cooperation with the ACBC and the project manager from the army. It is also very transparent for us in a WhatsApp group set up especially for the project. The pictures here are all from the digital dialogue. We are expecting the second list of materials shortly and will then immediately make a further payment on account to realise this project. Speed is also of the essence because, on the one hand, the weather described at the beginning is unlikely to improve and, on the other hand, the political forces in Sri Lanka are bound to change as a result of an upcoming election, with whatever consequences this may have for our project. At the moment, it looks as if we will experience a big opening ceremony on our next trip to Sri Lanka.

6. Other information

As you know, we held our 18th general meeting on 28 April 2024. I think everyone who attended once again received a good overview of the status and prospects of our projects in addition to the formalities of a general meeting. However, those who were not there – and most of them were – can find the minutes in the appendix to this member information. There has been a change in the work of the Executive Board. Katharina Kreuzig has stepped down from the Board for personal reasons after 10 years of voluntary work for the Rosenkinder and Ulrike Pape has taken over the role of Secretary of our organisation. The old and new board would like to thank “all” members for their trust and support.

Dates for this year include Participation in the Rose Festival in Uetersen on 6/7 July 2024. The celebration of the 18th Rosenkinder birthday, to which a separate invitation will be sent. We are also planning a charity concert with “Not Related” on 9 November 2024 and the renewed participation of our association in the Uetersen Christmas market on the 2nd weekend of Advent.

Our next trip to Sri Lanka is also planned and already largely booked. The preliminary group, consisting mainly of the Executive Board, will set off for the land of the rose children on 6 February 2025. The main travelling group will then follow on 16. 2. 2025 and together we will return from Sri Lanka on 9 March 2025. The joint programme consists of a six-day round trip with two days each in Galle, Kataragama and Yalla National Park and in the Rain Forest Lodge in Denijaja and with our sponsored children in Kotapola. The programme then includes 13 days of Ayurveda at Barberyn Reef. We are already booked with 12 people. The maximum number of fellow travellers is limited to 14. So if you would still like to travel with us, please get in touch with me as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is already clear that we will be travelling to Sri Lanka again in 2026. Then with a different programme.

So far for today. Wishing everyone a beautiful and sunny summer without bad weather. In particular, stay safe and sound and stay connected to the Rosenkinder.


Dieter Kaske