I'm spending this month in Sri Lanka volunteering at an orphanage for 120 children and women with special needs who are physically or mentally disabled - or how they put it "differently-abled". Being born with or acquiring a "disability" often means that one requires more attention and special treatment. However in Sri Lanka, most end up completely abandoned, as early as upon birth, because being different is seen as a curse on the family or a taboo to be hidden. This cause is largely under-represented here in Sri Lanka, and needs a lot of help.
A typical day for a volunteer consists of helping out in class, grooming, feeding, changing and generally spending quality time with the children and women. The makeshift classrooms are poorly stocked with basic things like stationary supplies and chairs missing or in bad condition. The inhabitants are very eager and excited to participate but often don't have the necessary means to fully take advantage of the class. Seeing how excited and grateful children can get to have learned something new, makes you realize how much they want to develop and how little opportunity they have to actually do so! Hence, I would love for the kids and women to get proper teaching materials available in classrooms.
Despite the positive input of the staff and volunteers, the orphanage is actually falling apart and in desperate need of renovation. Things like wheelchairs, beds and toilets are in terrible shape and often infested with insects. Also, all the good intentions do not make up for the fact that these children have no access to simple items like toys, games, and new clothes.
Despite the circumstances, they are all in good spirits and being cared for by people with big hearts and relentless patience. Children welcome each kind gesture and are always brave in showing their gratefulness. My contribution with my time and affection has been greatly appreciated and I am overwhelmed with what I have received in return in the form of smiles, tears and honest gestures of love. However, I know that this is not sufficient to really impact their lives and create long-term change. So what I ask, on behalf of everyone here, is to assist with raising funds for this worthy cause. In these circumstances, the goal of 800 euros is a modest amount in relation to the greatness of the need. It is just a figure, and of course the more money that is raised, the better! However, as I've witnessed first-hand, here at the orphanage, when you have close to nothing, every little contribution counts.
What will our contribution pay for:
■ Orphanage renovation
■ Wheelchairs and walkers for the handicapped (currently some children are moved around on plastic garden chairs due to the lack of special needs equipment)
■ Teaching materials
■ Books and posters
■ Toys and games
■ Music player and children’s music
■ Arts and crafts supplies
■ Vitamins/Calcium tablets
■ Antibiotics, antiseptics
■ Medical guides, baby-wipes, diapers and baby clothes and many other medical and baby-care related items
■ First aid materials
■ Children’s clothing
I will be deeply grateful for any assistance in making the lives of these amazing children and women a little bit easier and better!