Visitors since January 2005: 955278

Phase 71: April to June 2017

On April 1 2003, a totally frightened Tamil woman came to our gate and asked for a job. After her husband’s death, the widow and mother of four children ended up on the street without a penny. We gave her a chance as a kitchen assistant. Fourteen years later, Bawani manages the boy’s home on Hill Top and is our most senior child minder. And she shows that also as a widow you can make it. With Little Smile her life and that of her children turned for the better. To celebrate the anniversary, Bawani and her boss cut a cake.

At the beginning of April there was another cause for celebration – the 13th birthday of our German shepherd dog Rocky. A biblical age for a dog in Sri Lanka and Rocky even looks quite young. It seems as if the company and love from so many kids has kept him young.
Since we celebrate the New Year twice a year in Sri Lanka, one also gets the chance for a new start twice. Real solemn celebrations are held nationwide and thus also in Little Smile on the Singhalese New Year in the middle of April. The centre of all the many celebrations is the traditional blessing of all family members through the head of the family. And because the meaningful traditions play an important role for us, all kids get the oil blessing in the children’s village.

Voluntarily and without payment these three master carpenters have fixed the broken roof of the boy’s home on the coast in Dedunu. Read more about it under Little Smile had organized the wood and when the three had finished their sweaty job successfully we rewarded them with a few days of holidays in the Sri Lankan mountains at a place that is particularly beautiful because it is protected by us.

For four centuries the Weidemanns have lived in Sri Lanka, their leather articles made in Sri Lanka are among the best you can find in this field. They have known Michael Kreitmeir for more than 15 years. In May finally, they came for a visit to Little Smile and a completely different world compared to the one the successful business couple knows. They were very impressed, and they want to see much more of this different world and so they will return to the place where the pepper grows and humanity is at home.
We don’t waste anything in Little Smile and so we used the old gate from the children’s village in the farm in Nikkaphota. On an outing to the farm, the kids were surprised to see the green gate with the well-known Little Smile logo appear in the middle of the mountain jungle.
Visiting their father and their second home. At the beginning of May, Manuel and Marco Kreitmeir came for a two-week long visit to the children’s village and experienced more than 100 siblings awaiting them. Together the three Ms set out for Kalmunai where the Maria Theresia collage reminds them of their mother/grandmother and the Hermann-Josef hall of their father/grandfather. Traces left through buildings, but what is more important is to leave traces in hearts – this is something the two brothers definitely achieved despite the short time available.
While Manuel knows Little Smile from numerous visits and has spent his “social year” there after the tsunami catastrophe, for his younger brother Marco (left) many things are totally new and some are even a bit hard to get used to. They both were heavily sweating when Sunil, whom we call Tarzan because he loves the jungle so much, showed them the steep slopes of the farm and the nature reserve.
A rare visitor came to see our twin girls Sudu and Sandu. Out of nowhere, their mother suddenly appeared in the middle of May. When the guard called from the gate, we first thought it was a joke, because no one has ever visited the two four-year old girls since they found refuge with us three years ago. Quite confused but somehow also relaxed they endured the exalted behavior of the foreign woman, surprised by all the gifts she brought and her embraces. And then she disappeared as swiftly as she appeared and did not return.
Is Sudu dreaming of that strange visitor who has spoiled her with gifts and stuffed her with sweets, kissed and then left her behind? The Barbie doll – all in white of course – will survive only a few days, but this will probably be longer than the girl will remember a mother who seems to have visited her only to soothe her bad conscience. The mother’s return ticket back to the Middle East was already booked. Too many people depend on her income. There is no space left for her children. This space they find here in Mahagedara with all their Little Smile siblings.
It has not rained in a very long time. In the middle of May, most springs had dried up and we were fearing drought. Then the rain came, much too late and too heavy. The dry earth could not absorb the masses of water from the heavy storms and this resulted in flooding and landslides, especially hard hit was the region along the black river “Kalu Gange”. Even the rain pipes we had built in the children’s village could hardly cope with the heavy masses of rain, but thanks to our reforestation projects we have been spared from worse damages.
The thunderstorms disappeared as fast as they appeared but they have caused substantial damages in many places. In our direct neighborhood many roofs were torn off, entire houses completely destroyed. Fortunately, Little Smile has its own construction crew and therefore, we can help effectively and immediately. This widow lost her home, but on the same evening, she and her children have a roof above their heads again.
It seems like an eternity that Lucian was Michael Kreitmeir’s right-hand man and his confidant. Mid 2004, he left Little Smile and the children’s village. Today he is the director of “Brother’s of Charity Sri Lanka”. However, he never forgot the time he spent with us and he always remembers how much he has learnt here. At the beginning of June, he came for a visit with his wife and his son and it felt like coming home for everybody. Also on the picture is Niroshani who was a little girl when Lucian worked with us, and the special darling of him and his wife Dilka. Today Niroshani learns accounting in our office.
In a country where people eat lots of vegetables but cook them until all vitamins are destroyed, where people eat huge amounts of rice and don’t really like salad, visitors don’t realize how unhealthy this diet actually is. Especially children and pregnant women don’t get sufficient vitamins and so we are lucky to have more than 3000 lemon trees and almost 2000 orange trees on our land in Buttala and thus always fruits in Little Smile.
On each full moon day, which is always a holiday in Sri Lanka, we all gather in our cave temple. As soon as the sun sets, every child lights an oil lamp and carries it through the children’s village down to the figurine of the starving Buddha. It is said that in this cave prayers have taken place for more than 1000 years. What is certain is that this wonderful custom has been filled with live again since Little Smile leased this area from the temple in Koslanda.
What is it that makes the children’s village Mahagedara so special compared to most children’s homes not only in Sri Lanka? “Children are not responsible for what their parents are or do! We do everything possible to give children the feeling of being respected and at home. They have the right to live a peaceful and happy childhood with respect and dignity.”, says Michael Kreitmeir. What sounds so natural is very difficult to realize and meets lots of resistance unfortunately especially from the public authorities which are responsible for the wellbeing of these kids. Here in Little Smile, however, the happiness of children like Doni is much more important than the superficial harmony of the so-called Child Protection Agency.