Visitors since January 2005: 903759

Phase 68: July to September 2016

A few days after the Raja Kumari’s accident, Michael Kreitmeir also had an accident. During one of his endless inspection trips on the off-road motorbike, he fell after an unexpected collision with a big snake. Luckily, our most senior child minder Luxmi completed an apprenticeship in Ayurveda years ago, and so she treated Michael Kreitmeir’s wounds with the healing power of nature.

Each volunteer wishes to leave something behind when they return to their life in Germany. With her talent in painting Mirjam has achieved this. On the outer wall of our communal kitchen where the veranda on which we have breakfast lies, she has immortalized herself with a beautiful painting before going back to study design in Berlin.

Love of animals is something that cannot be taken for granted in a country where animals are considered either as competitors for food or as food itself. The humanization of domestic animals as it occurs in Germany is also unfamiliar to the people here. In Little Smile, however, respect towards animals is something natural, especially towards wild animals. When stray dogs – meanwhile there are just too many of them – once again have killed a deer or hare, our kids really try everything to rescue the cubs, though mostly with poor prospects of success.

Doubtlessly Niroshani is neither a baby nor a small child anymore, but belongs to the group of “young ladies” who will finish their school exam this year. But like every year on her birthday, Lokuthatha and Niro remember how they met so many years ago, and how Michael Kreitmeir brought the small child who was covered with wounds from the jungle to the children’s village. 14 years have passed since then and Niroshani is now the child who has been with us the longest.

With the start of the big holidays at the beginning of August time has come for Buddhika’s and Saunda’s relocation to the boys home on Hill Top has come. After this, Michael Kreitmeir once again is the only man in Mahagedara. Buddhika seems to be happy with the change whereas Saunda still looks a little skeptically in the arms of his new amma Bawani. The 17-year old Madu, trainee in the children’s village, hides behind a smile how hard it is for her to say good-bye to her boys.

July and particularly August is the main harvest time for pepper.  We have barely 8 weeks to bring in the harvest, which means a lot of climbing and picking, cleaning, drying, sorting and packing. The production of white pepper requires an additional effort. Considering that one needs almost four times the amount of green pepper to get the amount of black and white pepper that remains after the drying process explains how hard Shiran, the director of the spice farm, has to work to be able to ship 40 tons of black and white pepper to Germany at the beginning of September. (Read more about Little Smile’s spices under www.littlesmileorganic.com)

Thanks to the wonderful care provided from his daughter Daniela (at the right), Hermann-Josef Kreitmeir, father of the founder of Little Smile, is able to celebrate his 90th birthday in good health surrounded by his 10 children and 15 grandchildren. For the second time within only a few weeks Michael Kreitmeir also undertakes the long journey to Bavaria to congratulate his father. On this occasion, he also meets his daughter Sumalee, a successful musician who is frequently traveling.

The tiredness after an 11-hours flight with a stopover in Doha, lost luggage and a following 7-hours car trip is blown away at the sight of the welcoming committee. Many smiles and a Singhalese breakfast – just like a holiday. Welcome home Lokuthaththa!

The children waited to start their trip to the seaside until their Lokuthatha had returned. And so on August 12 they all went together to Arugam Bay at the East coast. For many of the new kids it was the first time in their life that they saw the sea. (report and pictures).
Holiday programme part 2 is a 3-hours journey in an extremely crowded train from Haputale to Hatton from where many tourist start their climb to Adam’s peak. Our aim, however, was to show our kids their country and the Sri Lankan mountains from a different perspective. Anka made this trip twice, with a different group of children each time.
The longer the dry season lasts the more dangerous are the bush fires which arise everywhere. Mostly they are the result of arson, something that is hard to believe considering the fact that the nature is already heavily damaged initiating severe water shortages. Far too often we cannot stop the flames from spreading to our land because they are simply too big – like here on the lower boundary of the children’s village.
When there is no way back you must let go and look ahead! In 1999, Michael Kreitmeir opened the first children’s homes in Sri Lanka. He spent most of his time there in the beginning, but since 2005, he has been living permanently in Sri Lanka. Some few family objects and personal things arrived in September and had to be collected from the customs, which was not easy. Finally, we could store them in our farm hall where they will stay until we distribute them.
Since his childhood this old grandfather clock accompanied Michael Kreitmeir, striking the hours, indicating the minutes. When he was a child, he once hid in the clock cabinet, one of his earliest memories. Later his mother gave him the clock and from that day on it accompanied him wherever he went. After 15-years of separation, from now on, each swing of the pendulum and each ticking will not only indicate the time but will remind him: “tempus fugit” – time flies and “carpe diem” – seize the day, every day.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Fashion shows this quite clearly. Sandu finds her new sun glasses super cool. Being four years old, means she already has some experience in matters of beauty especially when you are living together with almost one hundred sisters.

His trip to Colombo requires from Michael Kreitmeir to start at 3 in the morning, drive through an overcrowded city, meet directors of the bank where the two 18-year old girls he brought along will have a job interview and make a recruitment test, and after that a six hours drive back into the mountains towards Mahagedara. And all this because he wants to help the two former residents of the children’s village. Michael Kreitmeir uses his connections to the bank – during Sri Lanka’s finance crisis in 2007, he helped the CDB bank and now he asks them to give “his children” Anita and Yamuna a chance in return.

When you’re 17 or 18 you think you know everything better than anyone else, you don’t want to listen, you want to find your own way. Madushani too, she left the children’s village after the O-level exams and wanted to do her A-level – comparable with the German high school graduation – without us. A rude awakening followed. Two years later, she stands in front of our gate and gets another chance, because she assures that she really wishes to learn. The private school in Colombo is not cheap and life during the upcoming 10 months will consist virtually only of learning eating and sleeping. In the second week of September, time has come to say good-bye. A last smile before she escapes behind school walls for the next 10 months.
What birthday present do you give a contented person, someone who doesn’t care about possessions in contrast to responsibility? Anka had the perfect idea and organized a big birthday party to which about 400 children were invited from Kalmunai, Monaragal, Badulla and of course from Hill Top. The party took place in Mahagedara and became an unforgettable event with so much laughter and joy.

The biggest and surely most wonderful birthday surprise: Manuel appeared all of a sudden and congratulated his father. He was not even 10 years old when he visited the Sri Lankan mountains together with his father, and so it’s only natural that he is present at this event.

It is just 2 years since the earth near Koslanda opened and swallowed half of the village. Back then, the landslide made headlines around the world. Manuel wants to visit the village and is surprised that today absolutely nothing reminds of the catastrophe and the victims. Together with his father, he finds the fallen statue of a Hindu god covered by sprawling bushes and weeds, the only object that reminds of the big temple that once was standing there.
Manuel Kreitmeir has only one week for his visit but during this time he is amazed over and over again by the enormous developments his second home Little Smile has made since he last visited it nearly two years ago. Of course, he visits the nature reserve “Little Smile for Animals”, the boys home on Hill Top, the farm in Dikkapitiya and the rocks with the meditation caves in Rajagiri (king’s rock).

It’s a sad moment to say good-bye when the time you spent together was good and precious, nice and enriching. This is what Manuel’s visit was for us, but also for him. After the joint Sunday meeting in our jungle chapel, before Manuel has to go back to Colombo, we take a picture together with the child minders and his father.

Mikel and Robin also celebrated their birthday on September 18, and it was a very special one – their 18th birthday. To celebrate their birthday adequately too, we celebrated it one week later on Hill Top where we had a big campfire and Bawani, the twin’s proud mother, cooked a birthday meal.

Since there is no use in complaining and we definitely have not enough water to take a bath, the temperatures on the other hand are never below 30 degrees, from mid of September on we go down to the river to take our bath there. At night, wild elephants come here because bushfires, drought and water shortage are pushing them closer towards the children’s village. Samadhi doesn’t care, she likes her bath in the river and as long as the elephants do not appear during the day….  

Restful sleep – no way! Almost every night at 2 ò clock wild elephants come to the children’s village. No fence prevents them from entering since they can hardly find any food in the small area people have left for them. In the past five years, their habitat has more than halved. And now they are destroying what remains of intact nature. More than 15 years Michael Kreitmeir planted hundreds of palm trees and with a great deal of effort he succeeded to bring them through the dry season. The elephants already have destroyed most of the trees since mid September so now Kreitmeir defends with firecrackers and courage born of desperation the remaining trees night after night.