15 years after the desastrous tsunami
15 years after the catastrophe: Exactly on December 26, 2004, on 2nd Christmas Day, the disastrous tsunami broke out, flooded large parts of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, even parts of the African east coast and claimed a total of approximately 230,000 lives. That was the trigger for our project work at schools in Sri Lanka, initiated by the late Lord Mayor of Neuwied, Nikolaus Roth and our former manager, Mr. Sagara Abegunewardene, who died on last New Year’s Day 2019, and whom we think of with gratitude today. Neuwied-Matara Friendship Association has always been active since that time and clearly shows that early help was not a flash in the pan, but that all of us in this community are still burning and interested in continuing the projects that have already helped many people, families, children, schools, … to tackle their lives and shape their future.
On the fourth Sunday in Advent, I reported on our projects and sponsorship work in the parish church of St. Georg in Urmitz-Rhein (my home village). Instead of a sermon, visitors heard how it all started and how many projects have already been implemented. A small flyer provided the most important information and contact details. The collection will be made available to our Association for its further work in Matara-Sri Lanka. Fortunately, some individual donations have already been received. Thank you very much for that.
Our goddaughter Ridmi, who has been living with us for 18 months and is following her dual studies, lost her father in the course of this disaster 15 years ago and had become an orphan on that very day. So, her first visit today, was to the Buddhist Center in Wassenach, where she could pray and commemorate according to the Buddhist rite.
In her host family, of course, German Christmas is really celebrated with a Christmas tree, family meals and gifts. But some Buddhists in Sri Lanka also like our customs that accompany the Christmas season. Of course, it will be difficult in Sri Lanka to find a real Christmas tree, which can only be represented by a small plastic tree due to the lack of conifers.
For scholarship student Nethra, who, two days ago, received the long-awaited desk, chair and shelf from her German godfather Andreas, it must have been like surprising Christmas presents for us. And that all this was exactly matching on Christmas Eve, was also a wonderful present for the godfather – as he said – … “because the joy we give is returning to our hearts!”
Good development for three helpful projects
Construction work of the three projects continues. It is nice and satisfying to see that the local coordinators in Matara are pushing ahead constructions works with the necessary measures without us having to be always present as Neuwied-Matara-Friendship Association. Mr. Ajith with his family of five is in the new house now, and it looks – in a customary manner – quite colourful. But it means their “own four walls” that makes parents, children and German sponsors happy.
In Achini’s case there will be some delay, because her mother literally needs to keep her feet still because of her broken leg, and her father, well, you do not know exactly what’s going on. Building materials are already there at place, and now works should continue. The roof is still missing and the completion of several interior and exterior items, too, before Achini can use her own little empire, which the German godfather wants to make possible by his generous donation. Maybe it just takes a little longer. We will look after it!
And with Chamidi’s small washroom, progress is clearly visible. Where there was a rough-and-ready ladder last week, there are now solid concrete steps, and the walls clearly show what it’s all about: a small, fine room with a toilet, sink and shower. Chamidi’s father is a good craftsman and reliable compatriot. We are convinced that the donation of the German godparents is used here very meaningfully and responsibly.
Many thanks and appreciation for the regular support of all godparents, especially for school items, is expressed in the letters that arrived today in a collection of letters sent by teacher Mrs. Isha to Neuwied. The older students can use their English skills well, the younger write in Sinhalese. (My godchild Ridmi, who has been living with me for some time now and successfully does her dual studies in Koblenz, can translate these letters meanwhile into good German.)
We all in our Friendship Association truly hope that our meaningful work for forty of the neediest children at Anura College can continue by means of support granted by individual sponsors. Of course, we are still looking for generous helpers and new sponsors, because the waiting list in Matara is long. Who wants to help, can easily do that with a donation to IBAN: DE 58574501200030041800, keyword “godparenthood”. Donation receipt will be given, of course.
Big God – Parents – meeting in Neuwied
(Please, see pictures in German version.) On Sunday, November 24, Neuwied-Matara friendship Association in Neuwied invited godparents to the annual godparents’ meeting, which was attended by numerous sponsors who wanted to hear about their 40 or so protégés at Anura College in Matara, Sri Lanka.
In a big photo show, all the godparents could see how “their children”, have been promoted for several years, have developed, in outward appearance – but also in their educational career, and what special features are important to report about the respective families. There were reports about difficult living conditions in words and pictures, but also on positive occurrences, caused by the continuous support, which was and will be provided by the German godparents.
Several new sponsorships that could be started during the last six months were presented to the audience, and many poignant stories were told that led to accepting children into this sponsorship program. (The waiting list is still long!)
The second chairwoman, Edeltrud Pinger, who visited Anura College, his students, parents and teachers for the 18th time in June 2019, made clear in her moderation how useful these sponsorships are for the economically weakest and how much joy and energy can be set free when being offered better future prospects by means of this program.
This necessary work is supported by many: Even the first Chairman Bernd Mertgen, who visited the island more than thirty times, was back in February 2019 in Matara and visited Anura College. So you could see him in the photo presentation, as he gave the big new game device, a climbing tower with ladder, tunnel and slide to the children of the pre-school class, a gift from the patroness of the Friendship Association, Honorable Princess Sophie Charlotte of Neuwied.
In addition, some German sponsors visited their godchildren in Matara when travelling to the Indian Ocean. They were able to see by themselves of how structured, meaningful and helpful the support of the children is carried out. Coordinators at school are an important link and are in constant contact with the second chairperson. What’s app and emails have tremendously shortened the way and can quickly make necessary decisions.
At the end of this meeting, big, sincere thanks went out to all godparents, who not only make a donation once, but accompany the children through their schooldays for years, financially, but also through letters and small gifts, thereby providing greater more security and greater opportunities in future.
Lots of thanks – Bohome istuti!
God parents’ Meeting – next Sunday
Hopefully, all of our godparents who support scholarship students at Anura College in Matara, Sri Lanka, will remember “our godparents’ meeting”, Sunday, November 24th at 4:30 pm in Neuwied. The invitations have been sent for so long – so here’s a little reminder. There will be a big photo-show and lots of information about each child and the ongoing projects. We are all looking forward to your coming and joining us. And if you still have some time (and – may be – you are hungry), you are welcome to stay in the restaurant for dinner. There are certainly interesting topics to talk about. Ayubowan!
In silent and grateful memory
Neuwied-Matara Friendship Association commemorates with appreciation and gratitude its 1st President from 2005 – 2010, Mr. Hans Dieter Deckert,
retired District Administrator,
who died on 17 October 2019 in Mainz.
Hans Dieter Deckert was involved in our activities from the first moment in 2005, took over the chairmanship and used his life experience, his knowledge and his contacts to initiate and continuously accompany the work in the projects in schools in Matara, Sri Lanka ,
Even after giving up the presidency in 2010, he remained loyal to our association as a member and subsequently supported a godchild at Anura College. (The picture shows him on the very left, together with the first board of Neuwied-Matara-Friendship-Association of 2005)
We will keep Mr. Deckert, his commitment as 1st Chairman during the first five years of our association’s existence and his loyalty and membership until his last hour in appreciative memory.
(Please, press button “Deutsch” here on the right side to see pictures in the German version.) That could be the continuation of the story presented in the previous article, two days ago. Finally, the water authority in Matara has accepted the request of Chamidi’s family to provide a water connection in the small wooden house built by her father himself. Her godparents in Neuwied have taken over the fees of about 120 €, and we can hardly imagine what this fantastic improvement means for the family. (more…)
Turn the hose on and let the water flow !
(see pictures in German version by pressing button “Deutsch” on the right side) The new house, which the Friendship-Association-Neuwied-Matara has built for the godchild Ushana, her father and four sisters, has been occupied since spring 2019 and was visited and inspected by our 2nd chairman Edeltrud Pinger last June. Many new bits of furniture could be bought by donations, beds, shelves, tables, chairs, … and a lot of things that you need for the household. One problem had not yet been solved: the water supply, an essential necessity, but caused by the location of the house, there were enormous problems. So the neighbours helped out for a long time, and showering, washing clothes, washing dishes, … were a big challenge for the five girls and their father. Now finally the problem could be solved. (more…)
New godchildren and small projects
(For pictures, please press button “Deutsch” on the right side.) It’s not easy to continue work for the godchildren at Anura College when you cannot be there. But fortunately, there are some teachers who accompany our work, who take care of the children, who know the backgrounds of the children especially as class leaders. They can suggest those who are in particularly difficult economical and social conditions and definitely need help. (more…)
School vacation after second term
(Please, see pictures in the German version by pressing “Deutsch” on the right side.) Today is the end of schooling after the second trimester of the school year. There were again “reports”, that is, certificates that already show whether results have already improved after the first certificate at the beginning of April. Our godchildren take special care because they can now take part regularly in the usual “tuition lessons”, a kind of support courses in many subjects by the monthly scholarship money of their German godparents and thus, their grades in the term tests – ie at exams or classwork at the end of a trimester – can be better. And luckily we are repeatedly told that it is so. Great! (more…)
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.