Visitors since January 2005: 927062

Phase 54: January to March 2013

The year 2013 is only two weeks old when Thai Pongan – one of Sri Lanka’s most important festivals – is celebrated. The ceremonies, in which people thank the life giving sun, start with the first rays of the sun. Especially impressive is this festival in the boy’s house high up the mountain. Bawani does not only keep all the old traditions alive, but fills them with meaning and sense and thus transmits this important part of Sri Lanka’s culture to “her” boys.
Of course we also celebrate this festival of the sun in the children’s village Mahagedara. 78 girls aged between 2 and 17 live here and also the little boys, for whom life in the boy’s house on hilltop would be too hard still. Proud and with a big smile they present their new traditional robes.
At the farm in Dikkapitia too, Thai Pongal is celebrated in the old Hindu temple which is situated on the area. Shiran celebrates such festivals together with his family, but also with all workers and employees, who have come with bag and baggage to pray and celebrate afterwards.
One day after Thai Pongal the working animals are the center of worship. Particularly in an agricultural country such as Sri Lanka many people still live directly with and from working animals. Many families have at least one cow, some goats and chickens to guarantee their own supply. Together with some children Michael Kreitmeir visits the cows on the farm and shows the little Merci one of the colorful decorated cows.
2013 we got a very special gift – it was like Christmas, New Year and Easter all in one – our own bus. Since connections have become less and less reliable and especially the Tamil children had to spend hours travelling to get to school, the new vehicle received an enthusiastic welcome.
Fine feathers make fine birds! It is approximately 30 year since Michael Kreitmeir bought his first tailor-made suit in Thailand, which understandably does not fit anymore. And this is why he gets his second tailor-made suit from a tailor in Bandarawella now, because the founder and director of Little Smile wants to dress up nicely at the beginning of March, at the opening of the culture and meeting centre in Pilane near Galle.
At the end of February our two administration employees, Asela and Suramiya, leave Little Smile. Although life consists of change, this double loss hits Little Smile very hard, because they both have reliably handled the quite intensive accounting and administrative work in three different languages and writings. Now Suramiya wishes to marry and Asela wants to live closer to his family, and therefore we have no other choice but to thank and wish them good luck.
The year is already some weeks old when our little ones, the 5-year olds, are confronted with the so called serious side of life. Our “former kids” – (from the right) Saradha, who is currently trained in the office, Dilhani, the child minder from Moonlight house and Luxmi, chief of the sewing centre – who nowadays belong to the most important pillars in the children’s village, accompany the four new pupils on their first day to school.
On a regular basis Michael Kreitmeir visits the Maria Theresia College in Kalmunai. Little Smile has not only built this international school, but makes sure that this so important educational institution on the East coast also survives.
After the long journey from Koslanda on the South coast to Galle, Michael Kreitmeir prays for a good start for the new culture and meeting centre. He kneels at the little temple in front of the building, in which for many years the white Buddha from the children’s village has been more than just a symbol for the fact that mutual respect and the acceptance of different religions, races and convictions, just as it is practiced in the children’s village Mahagedara, will also become reality in the centre Meth Sevana. A few hours after this silent prayer the centre will be inaugurated (see also opening of the Buddhist culture centre “Meth Sevana” in Pilane near Galle).
Preserve tradition and ancient culture! In the children’s village a series of teachers with traditional knowledge, such as this dance and percussion teacher, are employed. Far over 70 years old, he does not only hit the drums powerfully, again and again he also presents the amazed kids his dance skills.
March is the month with the most birthdays in the children’s village. And there is even one day on which four children have their birthday. It is almost some kind of little tradition that Lokuthatha and the birthday child drive to Hill Top to celebrate the birthday together with the senior child minder Bawani and the boys who live uphill.
Those who are really interested in the work of Little Smile and inform us in due time, can visit us and see with their own eyes – or rather hearts – what makes this place so special, so different. And if you come from the beautiful Altmühltal like these two ladies, there are also memories to exchange with the founder from Little Smile.
For many years now the old Franciscan Benny is coming on Christmas and Easter to spend these two special days with the children and Michael Kreitmeir and worship in the little chapel of the children’s village. And before he leaves to bring his smile and the spirit of Saint Francis also to other people in this country, Benny distributes brightly colored eggs among the children.
Do it yourself – in this remote place in the mountains of Sri Lanka this is true for many things, starting with accounting in the office via manual skills to act as a psychological and physical doctor. Long ago Michael Kreitmeir has learnt how to attend and sew a wound. Particularly open wounds get easily infected and can thus cause serious problems. No complaining helps, Anusha has to endure the procedure – the wound has to be cleaned and treated.