Blessed Beyond Measure in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka was never really part of my travel plan, but when World Vision created the opportunity for me to see my sponsored child, I was quick to seize it! After all those letters by snail mail, I was eager to finally be able to see my sponsored child in person and spend some quality time with her!
World Vision Sri Lanka Trip Group 2019
There was a huge line-up of events and activities that showed us the depth of the ground work being done by the World Vision Sri Lanka. It was heartbreaking to witness the dire need for basic necessities such as shelter and water yet heartwarming to see all the effort, time and love put into addressing those needs in the community.
It was indeed eventful with us moving from one point to another to have the chance to see what the challenges that are faced by the communities and also the needs that have already been adequately addressed through the various projects in the past, Not forgetting the newly completed projects which we were cordially invited to be Guest-of-Honors for its official opening.
Helping to plant trees at a school
Often, we take the clean water that we have in Singapore for granted because it is so accessible to everyone, but attending the school's celebration ceremony for the newly built water filter system, it made me rethink how lucky we Singaporeans truly are. It was a small matter to us, but to the people in Sri Lanka, it was worth a big celebration. I am elated the students finally have clean drinking water in their school!
During the opening of a school's fully equipped classroom for nursery kids, a primary school girl from the same school articulated her gratitude through this heart-touching speech:
"Being born poor is not our fault. Being born rich is not your fault. God created us to hold our hands up to receive. And we are blessed that God created you with a heart of gold to reach out with your hands to give. You are giving us a life that we couldn't have otherwise imagined. We do not have anything to give in return. So with much gratitude, we present you these handmade gifts made with all the love from our hearts." I was in awe at how much effort they had put in to show us their appreciation in the simplest yet meaningful way.
Distributing gifts to the children in the school
We also had a quick stopover to see the library that was built with the sponsored funds. They have a reading club and students can drop in after school from 2pm to 5pm to study before going home. Although it was not big, I can sense how grateful the children felt for having the opportunity to study in a conducive environment filled with many reading materials. They even told us that students are frequently forced to leave after closing hours as they lose track of time while studying.
In a speech addressed to the sponsors, a boy who frequents the library said that he wants to study hard now so that he will be capable enough to upgrade the education standards of his community when he grows up. That in itself shows the impact of the projects and how there is a shift in mindset among the children to take ownership of their community after receiving help. It is not about 'me' but rather about 'us'. It is not about developments alone but about sustainability and giving back thereafter.
I have always wondered how great an impact sponsoring a child at $45 a month could really be. I feel blessed to have been able to go on this trip to see it for myself. As a sponsor, I have been assured that my money goes to those in need. My conversation with the villagers and the meet-up with my own sponsored child and family was a testament to that, it may be a small amount, but it has gone a long way and communities have been transformed because of it.
Towards the end of the trip, I also had the got the opportunity to see the living conditions of the locals in 2 different areas, one that has received some help and one that has not. It tore my heart to see the state at which they were living. The poverty-stricken families with were assisted with a new house coupled with all the necessary support to help them improve their household income. They are educated and closely monitored by World Vision's staff to ensure they would take ownership in the items provided to them. On the other hand, we visited the new villages that are being surveyed for upgrades for basic needs like water and roofing.
Meeting the locals in the community
I witnessed first-hand the hard work required to reach out to these needy families in rural parts of Sri Lanka. The path to access these places are usually rocky, bumpy and sometimes risky, despite that, there are some brave hearts who take these journey to find those in need and fight for them to have those needs met. They also engaged the men of the family through the Men Care programme to educate them to be responsible fathers and husbands. Through this visit, I give my utmost respect to the staff who do this from their hearts.
The highlight of the entire trip for me was of course being able to meet my little one! To hear from her mother how thrilled she had been the entire week to meet me just made me beam with joy. We had a good time of fun and laughter while doing origami and when we made some silly Boomerang videos. The few hours flew pass quickly and it was time for farewell. It was tough because I was unsure when would be the next time I see her again, yet it was comforting to know that she is doing well through this visit and be able to encourage her to continue to study hard and dream big for her future.
Doing crafts with my sponsored child, Abilashini