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Phase 70: January to March 2017

Without fire crackers but as excited as most people around the world the children in Mahagedara awaited the new year. Many of them, however, fell asleep before midnight. In the afternoon, there was a power failure and the following early darkness in the entire region made many of the kids sleepy. When the long-awaited moment finally came, we welcomed the New Year 2017 with candlelight.

 

There is no better place than the Hindu temple of the boy’s home up on the hill to wait for the first sunrise of the new year. And so together with Michael Kreitmeir some of the kids started before dawn to welcome the sun with Bawani and the boys.

 

Just back at the children’s village each child got a little New Year’s present and the blessing of their surrogate father for their way into the year that had just begun. Having so many children you need to be in a good condition on such occasions.

 

Since they overslept the turn of the year, the little ones were allowed to come along to the farm in Dikkapitia where they were spoiled with sweet rice after a short celebration at the “holy” tree.

A New Year’s walk through meter-high grass, in intense heat and with steep slopes that have to be climbed, this surely is not a trip German girls between 12 and 14 would like. In Little Smile, however, there were many kids, who voluntarily joined because Lokuthaththa was marching ahead.

 

It’s been more than a decade since Jürgen was working as a volunteer for five months in Little Smile. At the beginning of 2017, he and Barbara visited the children’s village and the boy’s home on Hill Top and he couldn’t believe how much this “little” Smile has grown in Sri Lanka.

 

 

We all know that children grow up quickly and little girls are almost always a bride one day. At the middle of January, that moment had come for the daughter of our child minder Bawani – a moment that will change the young woman’s life considerably. We hope her marriage will be as happy as her wedding day.

Last time Michael Kreitmeir visited this beach at the east coast 10 years ago, people had fled from this region because of the civil war. The beach still is deserted, but this time because speculators have grabbed almost all beaches of this region for their undertakings. A reasonable development is now blocked by completely absurd prices.

 

The only wish Anka had for her birthday in February was a break – some hours on her own in the nature reserve “Little Smile for Nature”. No shopping tour, no gifts, no party. Bawani secretly had prepared a light meal and so – observed by hungry monkeys – it was a bit like a little party in the mountain jungle.

 

There is hardly a day here in Little Smile on which we are not confronted with hardship and misery. Often we cannot really help, but only try to make things easier to endure. For this severely handicapped girl we will pay the expensive milk powder so that at least she must not go hungry.

 

One thing is clear: We will not run out of work. Nothing grows faster than weed and a thunderstorm can wash away the work of weeks. However, we’re not about to give up and so we learn from each setback and are happy even about small progress such as the opening of a new road section on our farm.

 

This time the rainy season, which is between October and mid January, was extremely dry and in February water is short here in the mountains. That brings the wild elephants closer to the houses even in the children’s village. They destroyed the mayor part of our banana plantation during only one night.

 

At the end of February, we prepare for an approaching water shortage. The small stream that flows through the children’s village has already run dry and people are already quarreling about the wells, which still have water. For a long time people were laughing at us because we did not cut down our forests and now they come and beg for water.

 

Our youngsters are eager to learn how to ride a motorbike – good that we have a small old motorcycle that already has survived some falls. And thus the sports field below is open for the motorbike training, for girls too.

A small family within the big Little Smile family. Roughly one year ago Selvi and her six children sought refuge in the children’s village. In March, the long-awaited big-girl-day has finally come for Monisha. The 16-year old girl had really been concerned that her turn would not come – all the bigger the relief.
In the middle of March the time had finally come: Together with Luisa and Heinz who had supported the construction with their Lanka Help Foundation in Lichtenstein, we opened the second school building of the Maria Theresia College in Kalmunai.
Since you cannot eat honors and prices are rising much faster than wages in Sri Lanka, there another meeting was arranged between Michael Kreitmeir and the workers at home in the mountains near Koslanda. As a complete surprise and precisely in time for the upcoming Singhalese New Year’s festival each worker gets a bonus according to the number of working days in Kalmunai.
Instead of many guests of honor, Michael Kreitmeir put the workers on the centre stage of the opening ceremony. They were the ones who did the work and helped to realize the plan of constructing a second school building with 18 classrooms for the international school that had been established 5 years ago.
The Little Smile child Ranjith has also worked in Kalmunai. Of course, he gave his bonus to his Lokuthatha to keep it for him. It is the basis for realizing his current dream one day – a motorbike.

 

 

 

It is like a little wonder. Nisali was two years old when she last saw her father. Four years later, he appears in the children’s village and Nisali – how astounding – recognizes him. He promises to visit us more regularly in the future and to save money for his daughter. 

Year after year, the clothes shopping for the Singhalese New Year’s festival places a very particular challenge for Anka. Since she knows, that the shops will be overcrowded right at the beginning of April she starts her trips to the neighboring town Wellawaya already in March. And because Anka really wants to take care of each child she leaves with groups of maximum 12 kids, which means eleven shopping trips.