Visitors since January 2005: 955278

Phase 47: April to June 2011

At the east coast, about 200 kilometers away from the children’s village Maha Gedara, the international school is steadily growing despite lots of difficulties. In the middle of 2010 for example, the building contractor simply left after we had indicated some serious defects. And after Michael Kreitmeir had been imprisoned, the workers were scared and left too, they only returned after his release when he personally took over the construction management. Since then work is proceeding at a good pace despite the heavy rains.
On his father’s birthday, who always was personally concerned about the education and training of adults, Michael Kreitmeir wishes to open the school. On August 8 Hermann-Josef Kreitmeir celebrates his 85th birthday.
It’s a long way from Koslanda to Kalmunai. Sometimes Michael Kreitmeir has to do this way several times a week. But the founder of Little Smile keeps a promise no matter how many difficulties this implies. And this is why the two responsible sisters welcome the German not only with a smile. Without lunch they won’t let him leave back home after his work on the site.
Actually, Michael Kreitmeir wanted to hand over some responsibility, but quite the contrary is the case. There are simply not enough people, who engage competently and full-heartedly for children in need. And thus, together with a local association Little Smile opened a centre for children in Monaragala, one of the country’s poorest areas. Even from quite a distance the children recognize the sound of Kreitmeir’s BMW – no wonder – it’s the only motorbike of this type in Sri Lanka.
They are not only born in the same year. They both don’t give in fast and they function even under difficult conditions. April is planting season, no matter how heavy the rainfalls are. So any help is appreciated at the organic farm in Dikkapitia, especially if you are able to drive the old tractor.
Parting hurts, particularly those who stay behind. But children become young adults and the day will come, when you have to let them go. Outside the gate, however, lies a world in which often only the strongest survive. Therefore, not only a lot of advice and worries accompany those who leave. Michael Kreitmeir also strongly hopes that they have achieved at Little Smile the necessary strength and confidence they will need now – and this hope is comforting at the moment of parting.
Not only geographically they are far away from home. Whoever actively engages in Little Smile, lives with children and child minders in a world that profoundly differs from the life Mara and Anka, our two volunteers, are living in Germany. Recognize problems, grow with difficulties, give a lot and do not expect anything in turn. Get to know yourself better in this new world, and discover new points of view and perspectives. If you engage without exception, you will discover yourself in a new way.
This April 14th, the new Buddhist year 2555 has not started before early afternoon. For the first time the ceremony took place outside the children’s village at the neighboring boy’s home on Hill Top, where the responsible child minder, Bawani, warmly welcomed us, and all together as one big Little Smile family we lighted the fire in the stove.
At Little Smile traditions are more than simply kept alive – they are taught and explained to children and child minders and lived and experienced as part of one rich culture. This is why at the beginning of the New Year all residents of the children’s village are anointed by the head of the family with oil from particular herbs.
More important than reaching a first place is the fact to have the courage to face a challenge and thus overcome despondency and weariness. As a child Pria suffered from misery and violence of the war in Jaffna. When she came to the children’s village she didn’t speak a single Singhalese word, was scared and insecure. At the New Year celebration she only reached the last place of the trainee’s race, but she didn’t give in and reached the finish line, where Rocky our shepherd dog enthusiastically welcomed her.
Once a month all child minders and trainees come together at a special place and for about 2 hours they relax a bit and simply enjoy to be together – to eat, laugh and to do some hiking. The former principal from Buttala, who has recently taken over responsibility for the children’s education as well as the child minder’s further education, experiences such a meeting for the first time, and he is delighted by the community spirit and solidarity. No wonder – almost all child minders were children in need and looking for help when they came to us years ago, and thus Little Smile is far more than a workplace, it is their home.
This year we will finally finish one of Little Smile Association’s biggest construction projects – the meeting- and peace centre near Galle. On this construction site work only got on in stages, because really everything – know-how, workers, management and control – had to come from the distant mountains. At the beginning of April almost all works are finished and enormous beams and carved pillars, numerous pales and logs are ready to start with the building of one of Sri Lanka’s biggest traditional timber roofs.