Visitors since January 2005: 955278
Koslanda, 13th of April 2003

Dear sponsors, supporters and friends, dear members of the Little Smile family,

Another year ends to the deafening sound of home-made fireworks. Today, Palm Sunday, is in Sri Lanka the last day of the year 2546. At least I think so, for although there is a lot of celebration here, NOBODY has yet been able to tell me which year is actually coming to an end. Why does that not surprise me? Anyway, goodbye 2546 (but no guarantees)!

This year was hardly boring for Little Smile. There were dramatic ups and downs, but always with some progress forward.

Our Little Smile family has grown. Where just four years ago the land was still covered by mountain forest, 64 children - from 2-year-old Niroschani to 16-year-old Jeewani - now have a new home. We dedicated the sewing school and the office, and enormous efforts were made in the growing of medicinal herbs and the production of medicine. Lucian Asanka, responsible for education, got married on 4 January and his wife, Dilka, is a good soul, especially for our youngest. Edna, another Damajanti and Karuna have been added to our education team, but Chitra regrettably chose to leave us on 1 April. As a result, Indrani are the only remaining members of our original team.

Mr. Osman has taken over the book-keeping from Mr. William, who continues to teach English in our school.

Welcome 2547!
The year began at exactly 12:15. After a nearly sleepless night in which our neighbours apparently had nothing better to do than to set off fireworks, I can only hope that they have detonated all their powder and driven away the evil spirits. It is now 4 p.m., most of our ceremonies are over or, I should say, have been mastered successfully. We had to observe many rituals on the first day of the year, including many very nice traditions. We cleaned up together in the early morning, then went to the temple together at precisely 8:30 a.m. We stayed quite a while. At the precise time when the new year started, which is different every year and dependent on the stars, the fire in the oven was ignited together by our three senior teachers. These women took no time off and got us through the day without the help of the kitchen staff. In addition to 33 children, our group included on this day the two women who have found refuge here with their children (Kumuduni with the very fearful Lahiru, and Bawani with twins Mikel and Robin), Lucian and Dilka, and from Germany our young carpenter Dominik and my children Manuel and Sumalee.

Again, I must interrupt this letter as a large group of staff are coming to express their new year wishes.

The first day of the year is already history.
Last evening I had a chance to write some more. After much work, the women from our kitchen came, in part with their families and always with the obligatory gift (a package of biscuits). We offered them tea and traditional pastry. A tropical downpour made the obligatory visit with Bandula's family somewhat difficult. It was also my first visit to Bandula's new home, approximately 400 meters above the village. Bandula proved again that he is also a good cook. Unfortunately, only Manuel and Dominik could do his cooking justice as I am still plagued by a gastro-intestinal virus.

As on almost every day since the 8th of December, the sun rises over the next mountain at exactly 7:30 a.m. Samire sweeps in front of the office and has already given me the gift of one of her precious and unique smiles.

What will this year bring for Little Smile?
We have plans to build a large storage house and a house for the older girls. Saradha and Samphat have completed the difficult and very important exams after the 11th grade. Lucian must now show that, in Bandula's absence, he can lead and motivate the staff. Surely not an easy job for a 27-year-old, but I have complete confidence in his abilities.

Gerhard Kuckenburg, director of the Hotel Lanka Princess in Beruwela, retired in October and, with his return to Germany, we will lose a friend and supporter here in Sri Lanka. We will continue to strive for more self-sufficiency and to develop the new land, Little Smile 2.

But the experiences of the last five years in Sir Lanka have shown me that 1,001 things will come up which could not be anticipated or planned. It will be so critical that the team continues to get stronger, that they work well together, accepting and supporting each other to accomplish the major challenge of finding a way for more than 60 children.

Where do I find my optimism, considering all the surprises and difficulties?
We have come out of every problem and crisis stronger than we were. Shantamalar, the two Damajantis, Edna, Darshani and Indrani are six women for whom the work in Little Smile is not just a job, but a challenge they take on with tremendous commitment and much love. I have always found assistance and support, and we continually have the feeling of not being alone here in the mountains of Sir Lanka. I can think of so many people, encounters, conversations, faces, helping hands. Humanity has many names and is a wonderful gift which I am privileged to experience in this Buddhist year of 2546. Kathrin Pfahler and Anna Steudel have spent 5 months here with us and the children, Maria and Peter Boas have spent their vacation here for the third time. More and more people find their way into this little world of smiles.

A weeping mother sits before me, distraught and full of fear. She too has found the way to this place of hope, which has become and remains reality thanks to the efforts of so many people.

Yesterday, according to prevailing custom, a number of people bowed to me. I would like to pass on this sign of respect and honour to all who let Little Smile prosper, and so I bow in deep gratitude to you all. And we will never forget here the people who, like Oma Fuchshuber, remain (I am convinced) even beyond death in our Little Smile family, alive in every child's smile.

Easter will be in a few days and I will start this day of hope and resurrection alone at the cross under our majestic and holy Boddhi tree. One year ago, I had the great gift of sharing precious moments with my parents at this very special place. There my thoughts will be devoted in gratitude toward my parents, who through their love have shown me the way to love, and to my family in Germany, who so often do without me because of the responsibilities here, and to all people who support this place of humanity, this hope in the 128 eyes of our children.

From Little Smile, heartfelt wishes for a wonderful Easter

Michael Kreitmeir and the entire team,
and especially the children of Little Smile