Visitors since January 2005: 888355

Phase 74: January to March 2018

Last year Mikel passed his school leaving examinations with outstanding marks, he was one of the best in the whole province. On January 1, he received his desired reward. An entire day he could use Lokuthaththa’s motorbike. You can bet that he will never forget that day, and what is even better, Mikel and the bike have survived the trip unscathed.
Shiran’s wife Vanojani has surely imagined her New Year’s trip a bit differently. For the young woman, who has grown up in a city on the East coast, Little Smile’s nature reserve constitutes a challenge. It is good that our farm director is an expert in terms of jungle matters. Nevertheless: I am sure that the next New Year’s trip won’t have anything to do with nature.
2018 will bring many changes also for Madushani. After graduating from high school, she starts training in our office and will learn about all the various fields we organize and control here. To honor her first working day the young woman, who has grown up in Little Smile, appears festively dressed in a Saree.
It is not always the physical size that counts! Lasantha and his sister Lasanthika provide the proof at the annual New Year’s school marathon. Although he is one of the smallest, the boy from Little Smile left almost all the big kids behind and finished the race in second place. His sister finished third in the girls races.
With the start of school a new chapter of life is beginning also for these three girls. In Sri Lanka children have to attend school already at the early age of 5. Watching the twins Sudu and Sandu one gets the impression that the school bags they are carrying are a couple of sizes too large for them. Another member of the little group is Sandamini. After many years of special support programs, the autistic eleven-year old girl is now ready to survive the hard reality of a public school.
When a childhood friend of Michael Kreitmeir pays a visit to the children’s village, it seems as if someone from a different planet and time is visiting. But Hubert and Daniela Meyer had no difficulties in adapting. Being farmers, the Bavarians are used to live in and with nature. And if one is able to fix almost everything like “Meyerbauer Yps” as Hubert is called, it is likely to find lots of things in and around the children’s village which need to be repaired.
A different kind of “Me Too”. Womanpower plays an important role in Little Smile, especially for very young kids such as Doni. The tiny girl knows exactly how to assert herself, especially without remarkable physical size. No wonder, that she is the dominant kid among the five to eight-year old girls from Wisdom-House and is respected at school, particularly by the boys.
On January 14, the Tamil New Year „Thai Pongal“, the Little Smile family with its more than 100 members travelled to Buttala. Together with Saradha, the former Little Smile kid, who is managing the Ayurveda center there and her husband Nilesh, they wanted to celebrate the New Year and the opening of the new hall for the production of natural medicine.
Back in the children’s village a huge new year’s campfire has been lit. Bawani and the boys from Hill Top also came around. Responsible for the big fire are the fire-ladies from Mahagedara, especially Santhiya who can justifiably be proud of her new year’s campfire.
The new year brings back old problems. The majority of people have not yet recognized how important a carful treatment of nature is for themselves and particularly for future generations. Short-term greed still ends in the cutting of trees and thus the shrinking of the last remaining jungle areas. In 2018 too, the shrieking of the chainsaws is heard everywhere around our nature reserve. We are still able to protect “Little Smile for Nature” but for how long?
Time does not stand still, and even the tiniest wild child grows up and one day becomes a young woman. “Big girl ceremonies” are an integral part of our life during the year. Nadeesha, dressed entirely in white, accompanied from her “house mother” Manju and Anka, is the first one in 2018 – we count with at least ten more big-girl candidates.
At the end of January Saradha gives birth to her second child – a boy again. Nilesh and Dinu are happy that she and the little baby boy are back home again after that quite difficult birth.
Since his internship some years ago, Lukas always returns to the children’s village. In January, he brought a drone and being (almost) a real drone expert, he showed us how the children’s village, the boy’s home and the farms look from above. He soon became famous as the “drone man” in the surrounding villages and everybody wanted to look at their homes from a bird’s eye view.
The ceremonies at the Hindu temples are always very impressing. And if you have built four, like we have, you always find the right and worthy place for a not so quiet farewell. I wonder, what kind of surprise Lukas will carry in his bag at his next visit.

When you send your children to the public schools day after day, month after month and year after year, from which they return extremely exhausted often after 4 pm without actually having learned something, it raises the question: How can we help children and young people to get their right to really learn? (See also I think, therefore I am)
Then comes the moment you realize: You have to take things into your own hands – not only far away at the East coast in Kalmunai, but also in the children’s village Mahagedara. This is why we are constructing a school building and we will do everything to get the permission to operate it.

It seems like only yesterday that Ranjith started his school career with a school bag that was far too big for him. The career, however, was no success story, because Ranjith did not want to sit around and spent his time thinking, - he wanted to do something with his hands. So he ended up working on our farm where he learned apart from farming also how to weld. On his birthday, Lokuthaththa comes to the indispensable cake feeding and is surprised that his little Ranjith turns 21 today.
When you live in and for Little Smile you have quite different values, objectives and wishes. February 5 is Anka Blank’s birthday and her wish was to spend some time at her favorite place in the heart of the nature reserve “Little Smile for Nature”. Far too seldom, there is time to enjoy the precious places Little Smile is protecting or has created and fill up with new energy to master the usual daily challenges. On February 5, however, this wish comes true for Anka.
Every boy in Sri Lanka – and probably not only there – dreams of his own motor bike. Fortunately, in Sri Lanka you can only register motor bikes up to 250 ccm, which surely saves many young lives. What is new, however, is that girls recently also dream of two wheels, their own scooter. In our remote region, women on motorbikes are still an absolute exemption. Nonetheless, our girls shall get the chance to learn how much independence and consequently freedom such a set of wheels means. Good that the 16 year-old Dikshi can already teach the other girls what she herself has learnt from Lokuthaththa.
More than 100 small Tamil schools are scattered in the vast tea plantations of the Uva province. Often only assistant teachers accept the long walks on foot to teach the children from the tea plantations. Paid badly or not at all the volunteers gradually stop coming. Little Smile helps here too and pays the teachers and sometimes repairs of buildings or donates teaching material and school benches. Whenever Michael Kreitmeir visits these schools in the middle of nowhere, they proudly present what the children have learnt.
It is rather difficult to earn all the money you need to help wherever help is urgently needed. Since you can only finance a small part by donations, it is important to specialize in farming to earn enough additional money. Quality instead of quantity is the motto and this is especially true for our latest product the “fermented pepper”. It takes at least three months until young green pepper ripens to a kind of pepper with a taste that is difficult to describe, you simply have to taste it. Find more information under here.
Bodhi trees are holy to Buddhists and shall not be cut down. As the saying goes, Buddha reached Enlightenment under such a tree. But why exactly is this tree holy? Is it perhaps because it belongs to the small number of plants that produce oxygen also at night, which explains why you sleep particularly well (oxygen-rich) under such a tree? The Bodhi tree – a must have for each temple! But even a holy tree does not live eternally and therefore on a full moon day in February, we plant a new holy tree next to the Hindu temple on Hill Top.

 

Even the best homepage and the most impressive movie cannot replace real experience.Those who had the chance to stay and spend time with us, definitely see things differently when they leave us. In February, Michaela and Thomas visited us and when the left, they did not only store their experience like holiday pictures, but became members of the Little Smile association.

 

Water means life, not only because the largest part of the human body consists of water. The right to water as a fundamental right is currently an important requirement to stop a development that might end in the fact that a few large corporations control the market for drinking water. Even in the mountains of Sri Lanka, it becomes more and more difficult to get clean water. We often have to guide drinking water to our water tanks over many kilometers via pipes from the few wells, which still have water during the dry season. Due to wild pigs, elephants, monkeys and falling rocks we almost daily have to repair these pipe systems in the impassable areas.
Once upon a time – I was a child in Little Smile. Many former residents remember their time with us, when they become mothers or fathers and hold their own kids in their arms. Then we get mail – electronic via mobile or a nice traditional letter delivered by a real postman. Watching the pictures Michael Kreitmeir remembers the mothers and fathers on them when they were kids and many stories come to his mind and to life again.

 

If you get up at 5 o’clock every morning and you never can go to bed before 9 pm, if you have to walk many kilometers to school – in the mountains, it should be noted – and if you additionally take part in the dancing classes on Saturdays, then each break is naturally very welcome. Like Sugania you watch the big ones and decide: “one day I will be as good as they”.

 

Sri Lanka has started to change and even officially is now considered to be an emerging and not an underdeveloped country. The economic development, however, leaves the weak – women, children and especially old people – behind. Officially, the state supports elderly destitute people with 250 rupees per month, approximately 1.20 converted into Euro. This is nothing, even if you are an economic person – you need at least twenty times as much. Hardship and misery certainly take place in concealment. However, when people get to know that Michael Kreitmeir comes for a visit, there are long lines of old people waiting for him, begging Bawani to talk to him. They all have the justified hope that once he has seen the poor huts they are living in, he will try to find a way and help.

 

More and more young parents are struggling with life and have severe problems to take on responsibility for others. Everywhere you find institutions where you can borrow money at very high interest rates. A majority of the young adults is deeply in debt and does not see any way out of the loan trap. Finally, they knock at our gate with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing and a huge amount of debt.
In January, the new school year starts with new clothes, a new school bag and good intentions. However, no classes take place, not to mention teaching and learning, quite the opposite is the case: Up to two months, there will be so called sport events, a little running, a little jumping, some ball games, and of course cricket. In the end all that counts is a huge amount of colorful things, and the sport itself becomes a minor matter and two months of the school year are wasted.

 

The most favorite bet in the children’s village Mahagedara is: Who will be the next “big girl”? With the first menstruation, childhood ends abruptly for girls. Later, when time has come to marry it is of crucial importance that the bride still is virgin – accordingly strong parents are worried. In Little Smile too, a new phase of life begins for the girls when they have their first bleeding. However, we support the young women with detailed information and personal conversations. Furthermore, the celebration is organized for the respective girl and is not like in many other places a party for adults and a mere drinking session. 
Yes, there are still magic places where nature seems almost untouched in its beauty and harmony. However, the number is constantly decreasing. Next to the so-called progress that focuses on a development basing on destruction, the individual tourism is another reason for that situation. Today, many people who discover an especially beautiful place often share this information with the internet community and only a little later this secret escape becomes a normal place. And this is why we guard our secrets, particularly for future generations.
If one receives a Christmas gift at the end of March, it has either been sent from Germany or it is for a sister who although she is over 70 has so much to do, that she simply had no time to make her way earlier from the north of Sri Lanka to the children’s village. Sister Theres Rani has already done a great deal of work, mostly as a teacher and director of the country’s best schools. Still she is promoting and standing up for education, something that cannot be successful without further training of the teachers. Therefore, her Christmas wish was a new projector, a lighter one than the one she got almost 10 years ago from Michael Kreitmeir, and which after thousands of operating hours has finally broken down. Since she only travels by bus, the small but excellent new apparatus, although late, is a very appropriate and wonderful Christmas gift.
Sister Rani and Anka got along well immediately. Despite differences, such as race, age or denomination, the two women have much in common. They both stand up for a better world dedicating their forces to help the weak and especially to fight for the right to education, and here particularly for girls. When Anka takes the sister to the next bus station, they have a lot to talk about and not even the heavy noise of our three-wheeler can disrupt them.
Litte Smile stands for esteem and respect towards all religions and races. Moreover, Little Smile supports Buddhist monasteries and even builds Hindu temples. Michael Kreitmeir focuses on things people have in common and he found out that what separates people is mostly something that is invented under the cloak of religion by people who only follow their own interests. Almost always it is a matter of power and money. So, when a monk or priest comes to Little Smile he must be ready for a very lively and particularly frank and open discussion. Each visitor, however, learns that all religions share the decisive values on which a good live can be built – good for the individual itself and others.