Visitors since January 2005: 888355

Phase 77: Oktober bis Dezember 2018

Fascination for reading: It was not easy to find the right books to inspire the children to read and thus giving them access to a new world – colourful, limitless and full of adventures and distraction. Even the best movie cannot compete with a written story into which you can immerse and forget the world around. No matter whether it’s a fairy tale, a love story or Harry Potter – Anka knows “her” children well enough to find the suitable book for each one of them. This makes the book exchange every Sunday morning in our library one of the weekly events some of the kids are impatiently waiting for.
We also donated a library to the Tamil school in the neighbouring village Koslanda. Each item inside – bookcases, desks, chairs – is „made in Little Smile“. Even some of the books come from us, because we want to inspire the children to read. For this essential step the mostly boring state-prescribed schoolbooks are not really suitable. The picture shows Michael Kreitmeir and Bawani’s daughter Dhiviya (left from Kreitmeir) who is responsible for the library at the opening.  
Little Smile’s motto means that we want to do more than just donate money. Our aim first of all is to give real and appropriate support thus providing meaningful help. Since the age of two, Sudu and Sandu have been living in the children’s village. The six year-old twins differ from most of their classmates by their strong self-confidence. They have self-esteem and feel strong because they grow up in a loving “family”.
All please to the administration of the order were of no use. Sister Lucrece who established the Maria Theresia-college in Kalmunai step by step and managed it from the beginning with a kind but strict hand, has to move. Mid October the sister comes to the children’s village to say goodbye. The only thing we can do is to wish her health and God’s blessings and try to comfort her because to leave her school is hard for the old sister, very very hard.
The raining season of the second half of the year comes unusually late. Only in the second half of October it started to rain on a regular basis and then it was mostly like a heavy tropical downpour. Despite landslides and inundations, people in Sri Lanka have been waiting for constant and strong rainfalls since last year, because there were drought-related bad maize and rice harvests.
When loading our pepper into container, rain is the last thing we need. The slightest amount of moisture from above and we can forget an export. Therefore, we start with the loading in the farm Dikkapitiya shortly before midnight and before 10 ò clock in the morning there are more than 1,000 sacks of pepper safely packed in both trucks. From there they are brought to the port of Colombo, a 9-hour journey and the first step of a 6 week-long journey with destination Mannheim.
The numerous tooth gaps are a sure sign that it still takes a while before puberty begins. When Anka and Michael Kreitmeir spend time with the little ones from Wisdom-house they always gain new energy. Time is passing fast enough – much too fast – and soon the carefree days with Doni, Udeshi and the others will be nothing but memories.
Again and again we note how badly society prepares many young people for life. Since premarital relationships are not tolerated and people do not even talk about sexuality, many young people marry far too early. When you spend the whole day with your baby in a small hut waiting for your husband to return, you have too much time to brood. Often a misdirected phone call can destroy the fragile confidence. Doubts were the reason for the young mother’s death. She had hung herself in her room and leaves a desperate husband – only 20 years old – and a baby behind. Sri Lanka has one of the highest suicide rates worldwide.
Enjoy youth, laugh, have a happy and carefree life. In Sri Lanka, only few young women have the chance to grow up in such a way, determine the course of their life themselves and become adults slowly and step by step like Niroshani and Grace in Little Smile. Support them, show them the right way, admonish without condemning them, spend confidence and never let them down. Give them the chance to learn and test themselves, to grow up always knowing that there is someone backing them up and supporting them even if they have messed things up.
At the end of October the planting is going at full speed so that the rain will help the seedlings to take root easier. Not only but particularly on our farm Dikkapitia we are digging and fertilizing now, the weed has already been removed. Apart from tea, like here in front of the farm hall, lots of trees are planted, at the end of 2018 especially jackfruit trees. The Singhalese word for jack is Kos – Koslanda means land of the jack trees. But even here they have almost disappeared. Instead of complaining, however, we are planting, nurturing and hoping for water from above.
Although this may not be what the Probation Officers want to hear, because for them children’s homes are supposed to be only detain institutions: Little Smile, however, is a big family. This also means that the kids, who have “grown out” of their childhood-home, one day come for a visit proudly presenting their own kids – the grandchildren so to speak.  At the end of November the visitors are Darshani with her husband (left) and her daughter. Her brother Samire (in black shirt) regularly comes to visit us. There is a lot to talk about and many memories to exchange about the best time of her life, as Darshani puts it.
He had long been sick, his face marked by an ulcer, becoming visibly weaker from day to day. Already two years ago, the father who suffered from cancer entrusted his two daughters to Michael Kreitmeir. Now he is dead – in the end surely a relief for him. For the two girls, however, it was a big shock when they saw their father stiff and cold lying in a coffin. When words of consolation won’t help you can only show that you are there, give support and take away the fear. Let them feel that they are not alone – that you are still there when their tears have dried!
In a family with more than 100 children there is almost every third day a birthday party. And that means a birthday song, a cake, a day off, not even the smallest daily duties pending, because a birthday is not a day like any other. Particularly not when it’s an important one like the 16th as is the case with Grace in the red dress. Only the 18th birthday is more important than this one, and so we celebrate a little party together with Anka, Michael Kreitmeir, three favourite friends and of course a chocolate cake.
Every child in Little Smile has its own history. There is always a reason why a child cannot grow up with her/his parents – usually a sad one. Every second Saturday of the month is visiting day and on the rare occasions their mother comes by and even brings the little half sister, the two girls are beaming with joy. Admittedly, they belong to the minority of children who receive visits at all. In the evenings of these days we gather around a campfire and share the presents among all kids.

Last night’s trouble with the wild pigs and elephants is soon forgotten when Michael Kreitmeir passes the children’s houses like here the Moonlight house and is greeted with a happy “good morning” and a smile that can do more than just chase his tiredness away. A perfect start into the day!

Rain has refilled the lakes in Buttala, the mangoes are ripening, the perfect time to go on a trip and visit Saradha and her family and see what‘s new in our Ayurveda school and of course try the mangoes, oranges and passion fruits. When all stomachs are full we also fill the bus to take mangoes back home to the children’s village. And since there are still so many mangoes hanging on the more than 200 year-old trees, we promise to come back.
Shortly before the final examinations which remind our big ones of the serious side of life, we spend a day at the seaside, namely the eastern coast near Arungambay. Time to be happy, to romp and play with the waves, gather new energy and feel: Life is beautiful, unique, the world is big and wide and no matter how I will pass the exams, I am young, the whole life lies ahead of me and I am not alone.
Christmas starts very early for Michael Kreitmeir, more precisely on December 2. On this evening the Ursula children’s home in Badulla is celebrating with a colourful program and little gifts. The sister in charge also gets a present and obviously Michael Kreitmeir has met her taste. For many years this girls’ home in the provincial capital has been financed by Little Smile, without this support the oldest children’s home of the province would have had to close a long time ago.   
At the Franciscans who live in our tea plantation near Beragalle there is also an early exchanging of gifts taking place. The cloth made by our faithful supporter Lenka Rühle from Hopfen am See near Füssen is not only a source of joy the brothers will definitely use it for the small house altar.
While the graduating classes are sweating in front of their exam questions all the other kids are enjoying their holidays. What would such a holiday be without the second, especially milky and sweet, cup of tea at half past eleven? Right, that wouldn’t be a real holiday! And this is accompanied by fresh mangoes from Buttala, because although the harvest is plentiful and each week more than 2,000 mangoes are picked, our children can’t get enough of them.

Another trip to Buttala, 40 km away, not only but also because of the mangoes. An attraction, especially for our teenagers are Saradha’s sons, particularly the little one. On the picture you see him showing Saroja where to go and who’s the boss.

It is still raining in the middle of December, the nights, however, are mostly clear and with 17 degrees very cold for the tropics. Freezing cold, our kids say and soak up the warm morning sun. Until noon it heats up tremendously, gets oppressively hot before a violent storm finally breaks over our heads.
Now the time has come for Lasantika – with just 12 years she becomes a big girl. The first menstruation marks a turning point in the life of every girl and is celebrated in the families with a big party. While outside Little Smile much alcohol is consumed at these celebrations, here the respective child is at the centre of attention on this day, gets new clothes, the first golden earrings and everyone spoils her.  
Bawani’s son Mikel has managed to get a place at university – he is one the very few high school graduates of the province who achieved that. Before it starts, he still has much time and he uses it to teach the little ones of his Little Smile siblings what seems to be a mystery for almost everybody: Maths. Anka has developed a method that allows not only to make up missed lessons but to understand the basics of mathematics. Suddenly the young ladies not only like their teacher but also maths, unthinkable only a few months ago.
Handicrafts are not one of the boys’ strong points and so the boys from Hill Top up on the hill get support from the girls of the valley. In due time before the big decorating begins, our girls have made the Christmas decorations. Proudly the young artists present some of the ornaments on the grass in front of the boy’s home. Directly next to it is a pine wood and so the appropriate Christmas trees are chosen and the party can start!
Finally the moment has arrived – the Holy Night. First of all the candles are lit in every house and then the kids can admire the Christmas tree, the manger and all the decorations. We go from house to house and reach our festively decorated hall at nightfall. Then the Christmas programme begins. Long before the exchange of gifts begins the children are singing, dancing and beaming with joy.
There is surely no better place to celebrate the festival of love than in the large Little Smile family. No matter how exhausting this year 2018 was, not matter how many disappointments and setbacks we had to face – Christmas in Little Smile compensates for a lot and sets something against all the trouble and worries that cannot be described with words.
Childhood – our calendar for friends and companions for the years 2019 and 2020 has arrived shortly before Christmas in the children’s village. It shows pictures of the different development stages of our kids over a long period. I show these pictures to Niroshani who has been a member of our big family for 15 years now and is henceforth also immortalized in this calendar.