It was very nice to meet Riyas again. He was still very solemn but his English had become better and we had a nice chat. He was in good spirits for his upcoming exams in June and had plans to go for a three month English class after that in either Matara or Colombo.
I asked him about a letter he had sent to us in January and he admitted quite embarrassed that he had not written it himself. I told him that we would appreciate an inaccurate letter from him much more!
In order to visit Sameela, we had to travel to Kandy some 200 kilometers from Hambantota. As we showed the address of her host parents to the lady who ran the guesthouse where we stayed, she let slip a “that’s a terrible area…………” She tried right away to correct herself. Until two years ago there had been only shacks there but it would have changed in the meantime to the better. And the school would be the best in Kandy. So why would we not visit the girl at the school?
She advised us, to go directly to the Director’s office. As we have learned to follow the advice of the locals, we marched into the office of the Director of the Girls’ High School where 4,300 girls studied.
We were greeted by the lady Vice Director who excused the absence of the Director and she sent for tea, spicy pastry and Sameela.
Not without pride, she repeated that this was the best girls school in Kandy and that they educated Buddhist, Hindus and Muslim girls from grade one to graduation.
A quite intimidated Sameela showed up shortly after and as we had never met before, she did not have a clue what was going on. After some explanation of the Vice Director her face lit up and she gave me a second look. Then said, “There’s – Auntie”! In Sri Lanka It is an honor to be addressed as Uncle or Auntie and maybe one day I will get used to it. J
Sameela would graduate in June 2007 from the subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. She went to school daily from 8:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and took various tutorial classes in the afternoon. During holidays she took the eight hour bus drive to visit her parents in Hambantota who still lived in the shack of the refugee camp.