MJF Kids Centres- Maligawatte & Peliyagoda
It has dawned on me that most of these children have never seen a foreigner let alone two “pale faces”. Most of the kids at these two schools are either the victims of single-parent homes or alcohol abuse on behalf of the parents, or both. I believe “both” is the answer in most cases. I know you saw my previous post and you should know that NONE of these children’s and vocational training programs for adults happen without Dilmah Tea.
Spent the day at two different centers (squeezed a visit to a famous Buddhist Temple- Gangaramaya-and some dim-sum in in between), both on the grounds of of two separate MJF headquarters. The first- Maligawatte- was an art class where kids from about 9 to 16 were spending their Saturday by choice creating art and being around their friends in a structured setting at the HQ (classes commenced in the staff cafeteria). The highlight of their day, other than the art, is snack time. It seems that most of these kids, if not all, don’t get much at home for breakfast and don’t get much thereafter, either.
Jacob and I both joined in and mixed with the kids to create some “art” (you won’t be seeing any gallery openings for me anytime soon!). Their biggest thrill was showing us the catalogues of work they had done and for me to take photos of them and it. It was not a long session as several of them were preparing for a show they were doing for us later in the day at the other Centre.
Later in the afternoon, we went to Peliyagoda, observed more art classes, participated in same. I painted a vase (poorly, I might add) and sat amongst the kids as they happily finished their projects. Then, they cleared the room and did five different dance and music numbers for “their special guests”. One girl, fifteen years old, who was there from the morning’s art class, had won the Poetry contest for the Province (having written several poems in English, not Sinhala or Tamil) and was heading to the national finals. Turns out not only was she quite a poet, but quite a dancer. She emceed the entire ceremony and recited her poem about “The Wind”.
Their generosity was amazing. Here we were to help them and they gave us each a gift of their art. They asked me (again!) to say some words, and all I can keep focusing on is what great work the administrators, teachers, and aides are doing. Every one of them gives up their Saturday to be there for these kids, and for very little remuneration, I am quite sure. They must just love doing it! They have to love doing it.
I also focus the kids attention on getting an education and following through as far as they can take it. Its their only way out (I didn’t say that. I said-
Knowledge is power and freedom. The only way anyone can get more, can get ahead is by having knowledge and you get that by staying with school- no matter how tough at times- and see it through to the end, where good things will be waiting for you.)
That’s the best I can do on this fine Saturday. Have a great weekend!
knowledge is power