Opening ceremony and moving into the new house!
(See pictures in German version, pressing button “Deutsch” here on the right side.) Neuwied-Matara-Friendship-Association is extremely happy that the new house for Ushana, her father and four sisters could be opened today in a ceremony that is usual in Sri Lanka. The old house was destroyed by a really bad incident which even caused their mother’s death. So, Ushana was accepted in the Association’s scholarship programme, but something had to be done for the whole family. And here we are: a simple, solid and nice house was built with the help of generous donations. Articles in local newspapers gave information and encouraged lots of people to help by their donations. We all wish good luck, a peaceful life in that new house, good health and happiness within the family.
Useful gifts make hard life easier
(For pictures press button “Deutsch” on the right side.) Big surprise for young scholarship student Achini and her mother: The German sponsor, Mr. Joseph, member of Neuwied-Matara-Friendship-Association, who visited them in March for the first time, promised to help by offering two folding beds and a refrigerator. So, uncomfortable mats on the floor were replaced by two comfortable beds and mattresses which use a lot of space in the really small and single room, but can be folded in the morning and stored during day time. This feels much better than sleeping on the hard floor.
Another remarkable improvement is the new fridge that helps to protect food and drinks against humidity, heat and insects. It’s really extraordinary for the new owners to have such a luxurious, but useful device. Mother and daughter are really happy,…and so is their donor! Thanks, a lot, Mr. Joseph! Bohome istuti!
Pleasant visit from Germany – Achini meets her sponsor
(For pictures, please, press button “Deutsch” here on the right side!) Mr. Josef from Germany visits his godchild Achini at Anura College: It’s great to have such a visit on an ordinary Tuesday at school. Suddenly, the godfather from Germany stands in front of the classroom and visits his godchild, whom he has been looking after for two years already. Letters were written, photos exchanged, ….but a personal visit, that is something very special and does not occur in every sponsorship. Mr. Josef has always wanted to know how and where and exactly who he has been helping for a long time. So, he has just booked a trip to Sri Lanka, had already wonderful experiences in the last week on his tour around the Island, and now, the most important thing is happening: he can meet his godchild, and of course, he also visits her at home with her mother. Everything is well organized, and the coordinating teacher, Mr. Wasantha, picks up Mr. Josef at the train station – usual delay of the train included – takes him to school, introduces him to the senior monk, and then they are off for the 7th grade-classroom, where, today, Achini is the main character and cannot believe that this is true. After class, they go home, meeting Achini’s mother, who welcomes the guest in her modest home. Josef looks around and discovers quickly where help is needed: at least a folding bed should be given – because there is no room for a normal bed – so that Achini does not have to sleep on the floor anymore. A small desk was already given to her by her godfather last year. So, school work can be done reasonably already – and now she will even sleep comfortably! This is and will remain the best surprise and joy for the upcoming New Year celebration in Sri Lanka in the middle of April. Bohome istuti! – Many thanks, Mr. Josef!
Crafting lesson in German and English at Anura College
(Please, look at pictures in the German version. Press “Deutsch” here on the right side.)
The two trainees Alana and Sabrina have brought a lot of great crafting material from Germany, and on the second but last day of their internship at Anura College this must finally be used to make some nice objects. Bright colours, funny animals, beautiful flowers, butterflies, caterpillars or other creatures … .The ideas are manifold, the creativity unlimited and the joy exuberant as the smiling faces make clear. Even the bracelets with the respective Sinhalese names are a great accessory even for the boys, which they proudly show when pictures are being taken. The group picture at the end gives evidence of how much joy and dedication has been involved in these activities. It will not be easy to say goodbye to the two young German ladies tomorrow and let them go, and even they will not find it easy to leave the boys and girls in whose company they could teach and learn and enjoy learning mutually. The Neuwied-Matara-Friendship-Association is very glad to give young people the opportunity to represent Germany at the school when board members or other members of the association cannot be there. Those internships are not only meant to enrich the obligatory English lessons, but also refresh and expand the few German language skills that are still available sporadically – depending on the length of stay of the corresponding teachers.
Next construction project in full action
(Please, see pictures in German version.) Although there is not always someone from Neuwied-Matara Friendship Association on site in Matara, contacts and electronic-digital aids via email and what’s app are really good now and helpful when planning, negotiating and checking from Germany, what is going on or not. But if the first chairman spends part of his vacation near Matara – as he is doing at the moment – he is thoroughly looking after all kind of processes at school and the construction projects under work, which is a great advantage. The construction of the house for the five girls and their father, who lost their mother and wife by electric shock, and almost all of their accommodation, is in good progress. The roof has just been applied, interior plastering is being done and electricity work almost finished. There are many more little bits and pieces to be accomplished inside and outside, and windows and doors are currently being installed.
It’s just a drop in the ocean; and, of course, we cannot build houses for all those who need one. To carry out such projects, it takes lots of efforts, fundraising, advertising campaigns and tireless petitioning and begging for the money to be collected. There is huge joy and gratitude when we can bring to an end such a project and when we can accommodate the family that has been suffering from a heavy blow of fate, in a decent dwelling. We would like to thank all donors in the father’s and children’s names and hope for a few more donations to offer some furniture. (donation receipt will be granted: IBAN: DE 58 574 501 20 000 3004 1800)
In memoriam – Buddhist ceremony for Sagara Abegunewardene
(Please, see pictures in German version.) Yesterday, at Anura College, in the presence of the first chairman of the Neuwied-Matara Friendship Association, a small memorial service took place in honor of Sagara Abegunewardene, son of the country and managing director, former Rahula student, who passed away on New Year’s day 2019. He is the origin of the contact he made with Anura College and Manthinda Temple School almost 10 years ago, and started supporting this school. Numerous students and teachers, as well as the monks of the Manthinda Temple, participated in this ceremony of Buddhist rite commemoration and showed great respect and genuine gratitude. A meal was prepared, which was offered to the monks by the teachers – that is the practice of “dhane” or “almsgiving”.
There was much more on the program for the German President of the association: meetings with other new godchildren, a visit at home to one of the new scholarship students, visits of the construction projects, further delivery of letters and small gifts from German godparents and discussions about a possible solution for the accommodation of some female students who either have an almost extremely long way to school or where domestic conditions hardly make learning possible. It will not be easy, but maybe there will be some concrete and workable solutions soon. All these things can only be tackled if someone from the Friendship Association is directly on site. The support of local coordinators is essential to ensure a good basis for decision-making. Big thanks to all those who contribute. There is still a lot to do.
Very busy days – and lots of joy for scholarship students
The first chairman of the Neuwied-Matara Friendship Association has been staying in Sri Lanka since the end of January, where he has many contact points, because this island has been his destination for many decades, long before the disastrous tsunami in 2004. But it predestined him of course to be involved in charity work, because he knows a lot about the island and, of course, likes to stay in Matara, where the Friendship Association has been managing its projects for more than 14 years, and it’s just great if every now and then someone is on the spot to check projects and look after them thoroughly.
Several new godchildren have joined the scholarship programme last year and at the beginning of 2019. Fortunately, sponsors could be found again in Neuwied and in the surrounding area, who know that sponsorships should last and be continued at least for some years in order to ensure sustainable help and to increase the chances of a good education.
Mr. Mertgen is not alone. He is accompanied by a longtime friend and member of our association, Mr. Harald Hochgräfe, who also loves Sri Lanka, which has become his second home country. He spends almost half of the year on the island, alternating with stays in Germany. He accompanies Mr. Mertgen on his visit to Anura College, sings a German song for the Anura students and helps with plans for improvement in school itself.
A computer lab could be set up with the help of a teacher’s husband who could provide used – but still functional – PCs. So, maybe, some of the godchildren, whose German godparents have an email address, of course, can learn to communicate with them in this way. There seems to be some progress even in these little things!
The President has a few letters and presents in his luggage and gladly hands them over to the lucky recipients. Many thanks to the teachers Mrs. Isha, Mr. Wasantha and Mrs. Tekla, who warmly welcome and support the German visitors. There are also discussions with the Venerable High Priest, who always has his wish list in mind which includes the progress and the structural and pedagogical improvement of his school. Everything will be noted and discussed, and on his return to Germany, the President will give a benevolent presentation and debate to the Board on the new plans. Help will certainly be continued.
Special guests from Germany at Anura College:
The President of the Neuwied-Matara Friendship Association is in Sri Lanka, in the city of Matara in the south of the island, and was warmly welcomed to Anura College. He had a few small gifts for godchildren in his luggage, letters and photos and of course a framed photo of our manager and son of Matara, Mr. Sagara Abegundewardene, who died on New Year and will be given a place of honour at the school. After all, it was he who established contact with Anura College about 9 years ago and initiated many things, which gave the school a great boost and gave the students a significantly improved learning environment. This work has been continued to this day and supports grateful teachers, parents, and students.
The first chairman, along with another member of the Friendship Association, will meet teachers, students – including many godchildren – and of course the “boss,” senior monk Tissamaharamaye Indananda Himi. He heads the Manthinda Temple School and Anura College and does valuable, student-fostering, pedagogical work and encourages his staff to do the same.
The preschool is run excellently, and the visitors were able to see how well the new game apparatus given by the preschool protectress, I. D. Princess Sophie Charlotte zu Wied, is accepted by the preschool students.
The president’s to-do list is long. There are the visits of the construction projects (see previous article), the discussion with the school management about another construction project that, one day, might help the school – depending on the financial possibilities and the willingness to donate of many supporters of the Friendship Association – to have its own auditorium and maybe, an own small Anura-boarding school, which will give advantage and relief to those students who have to spend up to seven hours a day on their way to and back home from school.
So, if you want to support our work and our projects, please, go ahead and don’t hesitate! We can still use a lot of help here. Bohome istuti = thank you! (www.tsunami-kinder-matara.de)
Our late manager’s wish will be fullfilled – Project work to be continued
After the death of our highly appreciated managing director Sagara, activities of Neuwied-Matara-Friendship-Association continue, of course. He would have wanted it that way, and he’s with us in all these actions somehow. He joined us in our last decision to create a good livelihood in some social hardship cases, and decided with us to build a house for an orphaned sibling couple. It’s nearly finished. Only some more weeks for final works, and they can move in and make use of their own home!
We mourn the initiator, co-founder, great supporter of our work in Sri Lanka
died on New Year’s Day 2019 after a long illness.
We think of him with great respect, gratitude and appreciation and wish his family strength and comfort.
With regard to Buddhist belief we wish that he may attain Nibbana.
May he rest in peace!