What a great day spent with these kids. We unloaded the van and sorted the goods and it is time for the official welcome. The English teacher had organised a small Perahera (parade). There were dancers, drummers, flag bearers and an elephant. What great fun.
Then I was greeted by the kids and adorned with many fragrant flower necklaces. So many in fact, I had to hang some from my wrists. Boy were they heavy but so beautiful. There was a small singing concert, a speech by two students and another by the principal. The English teacher gave a demonstration of how well the children are picking up English through her efforts and resource material that we donated last year.
We invited the little boy from across the road to join the celebrations. He was a student at the school when we first visited. He is suffering mental illness and is now too old to attend this school and his parents believe his medical condition prevents him from attending higher level classes. This is the truth. In these rural areas of Sri Lanka, there are no services for kids with different needs. We left a small sum of money with the mother to help pay for medicines Kasun needs.
By now it is 2pm, the kids have left and it is time for us to leave as well.
I believe the children and families of this school are the most disadvantaged of all the schools we visit. I met a young University student yesterday and he asked to accompany us on today's school visit and of course, I accepted his offer.
Pubudu told me he had never seen these poor living conditions during his travels in Sri Lanka and once we arrived at the school and he overcame the culture shock, he quickly began to feel comfortable amongst the children and took them outside to play whilst we unpacked and sorted the donations.
We were entertained by three classes singing songs to us and then the Principal regaled us with a song. He actually has a great voice. The whole process of gifting things to the children and then serving lunch to everyone concluded at around 2.30 pm. We left the school farwelling all until next year.
This is one of the schools where we provide lunch for the children and parents. These families are very poor and eat rice with dried fish and dhal curry each day. Chicken and beans for many are unaffordable.
Today we had purchased school shoes and socks for each child, but alas 19 of the 33 pairs purchased did not even come close to fitting the children. We aimed to exchange the shoes today but distance and time we're against us so we will have to come back on Monday as well as our last school visit.
The children were very happy with their gifts and believe it or not, those cards you all collected from Woolies were the biggest hit. Even the teachers felt they could use them in their lessons.
We're so very happy after our school visit today. We arrived to a large group of happy children and teachers. The principal is new since our last visit and was very welcoming.
The time went very quickly and every child had their school bag filled with books, pencils, toys, reading books and socks. Then they collected the shoes we had purchased for them.
The school will open a borrowing library so next year, we will provide English books for them.
We visited the 63 children at Wandinaheliyaya school.
We purchased 62 pairs of socks, and the usual yoghurt and biscuits to distribute to the children whilst we get the things ready.
What I did not know was that the Principal, teachers and children had arranged a welcoming ceremony and a whole of school performance! After the performance and the school bags and books were distributed to the children, it was time to give out the school shoes. A new child was also admitted to the school two weeks ago but we were not informed about that until we arrived there today.
I wanted to go to visit a couple of the families to see if their living conditions had improved. Sadly for the majority of families, their condition is still very poor and work is temporary and conditional on the weather. Our work at this school will continue.
Today we visited a new school with 30 children. The children are from similar subsistence farming families and depend on the annual rainfall to bring a good rice crop. It has been very dry in this area and still no sign of the good rain they are waiting for.
Today, sadly, seven of the children were absent from school ,which is almost 25% of the school population. Often at planting time children will stay home to help with the clearing of the fields, plant the rice crop and then stay home again to assist with the harvest. It is a fact of rural life in Sri Lanka and countries like it.
The children who were at school loved our surprise visit and went home with a new school bag filled with useful school items.