Galwewa - 2012
We arrived at Galwewa school just before the children were to be dismissed for the day. That was good as we were able to tell all of the children there that we would be back the following day to spend the time with them and to present our usual gifts to them. They were all excited and promised that they would be at school the following day.
We noticed that the school had been painted a dark orange colour. Very surprising, most schools in Sri Lanka are painted in muted colours. This one’s breaking the trend but we learn from the Principal that he was able to get the paint donated so he accepted the offer and the outside of the building was painted.
In the morning we arrived, the children were waiting anxiously and then I was asked to come to the main building where I was presented with a flower lei which was placed around my next. Some of the children had made this from white flowers they had brought from home. I was then shepherded into a larger classroom where again I was asked to sit whilst another group of children from all grades presented another small posie of flowers and participated in a small welcome ceremonial dance. This is all such a delightful thing to be part of and the children love to show off their talents.
It was then time for us to unload the van and prepare for the gifting. Again the children helped to carry things and then the arranging takes place. Within about an hour, we’re ready to receive the first group of children. We work from grade 1 – 5 with a total of 44 children.
We again gave school bags, books, a pencil case full of necessary items for writing, English reading books, toys and other small items to each child. They were very excited and immediately went to their classroom to check and of course swap with others items that they decided were not for them. This is one of my favourite things to witness. It’s all done swiftly and without much fuss. There are the occasional complaints but all in all they negotiate with each other very well.
One little boy, Kasun wasn’t at school. I’ve known him since he started at this school. He is a special little boy, he has intellectual and learning difficulties. I missed him. When I asked, the principal told that he had been unwell and missed a lot of school since my last visit.
We found that he lived on the main road, walking distance to the school. Raja and I decided to go and visit him and take to him his school bag of gifts.
When we got there, I was shocked to see how his family were living. They have the basic structure of their home built but nothing else. Some rooms didn’t have windows, others had them but the glass was still issing. The floor was still of rough concrete.
Kasun’s mum remembered who we were and called Kasun to come. He looked terribly pale and unwell, clearly lacking in energy but still the delightful little boy of my memory. He said “Sudu Madam”, that means “white lady”.
We gave him his gifts and at the same time asked his mum about his health condition. She explained that he would continue to deteriorate over time and it was only his daily medication that was keeping him reasonably well. She told us that each month the family needed to spend SR3000 on his medication, this is 20% of the family’s monthly income. What a huge proportion of one’s income to go on medical costs, this was clearly true when one observed the unfinished condition of their home.