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Phase 60: July until September 2014

No matter if it’s a three wheeler or a van, if she has to drive to the hospital or to neighboring towns to buy something – you can count on Annkathrin Blank also as a driver. In the beginning it was not easy for her to get used to the driving style and all the road users including dogs and cows. But after more than 9 months in this different world the Franconian woman knows that you can do almost anything if you only want it.
A jungle trip instead of a shopping tour! Once a week the child-minders have a few hours off and when Michael Kreitmeir suggests a short trip to the jungle – just as he did in the beginning of July – there is no murmuring among the young ladies. On the contrary: They climb and swing enthusiastically on lianas and even wild elephants cannot frighten the group from the children’s village.
The dry season is nearing its peak – water is getting short everywhere, temperatures above 35 degrees not unusual. No wonder, that every chance to get refreshed is taken immediately. And if you live, like our boys, in the mountains where water always is a precious good, you really freak out if you get the opportunity to jump into the water like you see here on the picture in Rajagiri.
In the middle of July pictures arrived that had been drawn by the class 5c from the Gymnasium in Raubling (see also picture of the month July). It was a wonderful idea to use brush and paint to connect children from such different worlds.
Spontaneously many of the Little Smile children sat down to reply to the children from Upper Bavaria with painted pictures from their home. While the Bavarians had drawn a children’s village with steeples, chairlifts and snow on the top of the mountains, the children here wanted to present their home, the children’s village Mahagedara, with pond, bathing place, many houses, monkeys and elephants.
Time is flying – more than half of the year 2014 is already over – children become adults, even though not over night but from birthday to birthday. In the middle of July Lahiru (on the left) and Amile celebrated their 16th birthday together with the other boys and their surrogate mother Bawani on Hill Top. 12 of his 16 years Lahiru has spent in Little Smile.
It has always been very important for Michael Kreitmeir to support the work of the Franciscan order in Sri Lanka. Because obedience, celibacy and poverty do not attract masses, there are not so many young brothers. One of the few brothers is Austin who could collect on Hill Top practical experience in working with young people. Impressive for us all was the commitment of this young man to the Franciscan rules at the beginning of our joint Sunday prayers.
195 Rupees was the price for a bag of cement when Michael Kreitmeir built the first houses for children in 1999. Not only the price for cement has increased fivefold, everything has become more expensive and prices keep rising inexorably in Sri Lanka. So build sooner rather than later, even if the leader of Little Smile after 15 years of constant construction stress is not very keen on all the related building difficulties. The increasing number of tasks, however, requires further efforts, like for example the building of a training center in Dikkapitia.
Since the former Little Smile child Saradha (back row, on the right with the green Sari) is in charge of the training centre for traditional medicine in Buttala the centre is running successfully again. Twelve former students have successfully passed their exams as traditional doctors in 2014 and numerous students have been accepted. Despite this report of success the fact that the region has been suffering a heavy drought for more than six months now, is worrying us.
Karuna has been working as a carving teacher in the children’s village for eight years. Since more than a year, however, the artist, who comes from a traditional carver family, is working on a cycle of wooden reliefs. After the topic “humans and nature” and “humans and traditional medicine”, his third works are about the children’s village. After more than three months Karuna (on the right, in front) presented how he sees the work of Little Smile with and for children.  
When Europe has holidays, many people from Germany come to Sri Lanka. Some make their way to the mountains and even till Mahagedara where they find a completely different world, a world, in which the focus lies on the needs of children, their rights and their well-being. For Chaturi, who once also lived in a children’s village in Sri Lanka, and is today living in Switzerland, the visit to Little Smile was an emotional meeting with part of her own history.