Visitors since January 2005: 965365

Phase 66: January to March 2016

The year 2016 has only just started when on January 15th we celebrate another festival at the children’s village – the worship of the sun Thai Pongal. This year children, child-minders and Lokuthatha gather at the pond near the Lady Chapel to wait for the sunrise. According to Hindu tradition, with the first rays of the sun the father blesses all family members. Originally a Tamil festival, it is nowadays also celebrated by Buddhists and Christians in Sri Lanka.
For the children the most important thing about Thai Pongal is the sweet rice, which they get right after the blessing ceremony. Cinnamon, peanuts, raisins and palm syrup are mixed with rice to make a sweet dish, which is part of almost all Hindu celebrations and is named Pongal rice after this surely most important Hindu festival. And this is why on Thai Pongal each child at the children’s village gets more than just a handful, much more.
The boy’s home on Hill Top borders directly on the Tamil tea plantations. On Thai Pongal – as in Germany the carol singers – groups of young people dressed as figures from Hindu mythology walk from house to house to bring songs and blessings and get sweets in return. The singers, drummers and flute players particularly love to visit Bawani and her boys because no one ever left hungry from there.
Since Michael Kreitmeir brought the archangel’s name to the Sri Lankan mountains, the name has become popular in and around the children’s village. Again and again especially former Little Smile girls name their firstborn after the man who many years ago as their Lokuthaththa had given them a chance and thus a new life.
One of the twins of our Hill Top mother Bawani is also named Mikel. And because one day every little kid becomes a teenager and then a grownup, in February Mikel faces a very special and long awaited moment: For the first time the 17-year old jumps on the front seat of the motorbike. Fearless Jagath who is visiting us takes a seat behind the novice driver and then Mikel’s first motorbike ride can start. The trip goes uphill to the boy’s home where excited and a bit worried his mother Bawani is waiting.
She came as a guest and left as a friend. Ingrid had just been through a difficult period when she became aware of us. She dared to ask, we said YES and the result was a very precious time for her.  When the time to say farewell had come on February 28 after a very intense month she was more than sure: “I will never ever forget the time here, and I will carry many of the things I experienced here deep in my heart.”
They are so small, so fragile, so helpless in a mostly cold and cruel world. There is no one who can or will take care of them, no one who is willing to protect them and show them a way out into a better tomorrow. The lucky ones find a way to get here, but there are so many others out there, who are all alone without someone supporting them. What a blessing if you can fall asleep in a peaceful and secure environment and wake up with the feeling of being accepted and even loved. In March, a new life starts for Doni here in Mahagedara – a life full of love.
Every child has a right to a happy and protected childhood. Our world is so rich and nothing excuses the fact that millions of children are suffering, starving and are exposed to physical and emotional violence. How can we talk about human civilization as long as there is even just one child on this planet growing up without care and love? Of course, what Little Smile does is only a drop in the ocean, but many drops….   
Since time doesn’t stand still, the day inevitably comes when our little girls become big girls. The first menstrual period marks a crucial turning point in the life of Sri Lankan girls. From that moment on, they are no longer girls and are prepared for a life as a woman. For days, elder women prepare them for this new phase of life and instruct them in the basics on hygiene and sexuality and a different behavior towards boys and men. The astrologer calculates date and time for the rituals connected with the child’s passage to womanhood and her presentation to the community as a young woman. Grace is exactly the hundredth girl who is making that important step in the children’s village Mahagedara.