It was our second visit to Ruhi and we hardly recognized her as she had changed a lot. She was a cheerful and vivid little girl and she made us laugh with her “knowledge” of English. She loves her young uncle dearly who was taking care of her together with his parents, Ruhi’s grandparents. She was very well looked after but had not started Kindergarten yet.
Only ask if you can handle the answer: she wished for a book about Switzerland and as I doubt that there is something for little children on the market, I knew I would have to come up with something myself. As I don’t want to end up with mountains and cows only, I am open for suggestions!
Maduka, for whom Amanda, a client of mine, had taken over a sponsorship, was after a short pause more practical: he wanted some shoes for school. The children are only allowed to go to school in closed shoes or barefoot. The cheap flip flops are not allowed, no idea why!
He dressed up for the shopping trip together with us and his aunt: changing from a t-shirt to a shirt; and from shorts to long pants. A remark on the side: shortly afterwards another boy around the same age came around the corner wearing the shorts Maduka had been wearing before. Obviously, they shared one pair of long pants………
At the shop I had a hard time to convince the boy not to buy shoes four sizes too big. Only after I reassured him several times that he would get a new pair for the next school year, he was ready to buy them in an approximately correct size. As we also bought him some sandals of the same size, it was obvious that they were still quite big for his feet.
It was hard to tell how many members of the family Maduka lived with under one roof. As always, a lot of neighbors gathered at the house as we visited. He lived together with his older sister at the house of the younger sister of his Mother and it was a very friendly, warm atmosphere.
Most children in Sri Lanka are raised in big family clans with strong ties and as traumatic it must have been for them to lose their parents, Maduka and his sister seemed to feel very comfortable at their aunt’s house.
Opposite to his sister, he was more interested in sports than in school and he proudly showed a medal he had won at a 100 meter race at school. His only picture in his uniform for the school band, he gave to us to forward it to his sponsor.
Monika who accompanied me on this trip had the opportunity to visit her goddaughter Resla in person. Not surprisingly she wanted to have shoes for school and it was also a lot of work to talk her out of a much too big size.
The saleslady was worried about the white shoes and put Resla’s foot into a thin plastic bag before she got to try them. Monika also bought her a new dress (cheaper than the shoes!) and it was quite typical for Sri Lanka: very bright green and with a lot of frills. That modern times made it to the remote part of the country was shown by the fact that the girl turned down Monika’s offer for a second dress and shyly asked for a pair of jeans and t-shirt instead.
Resla was a very humble, shy girl living with her Grandmother. All of the children had found shelter in the Mother’s families. The Grandmother was to be donated a new house in Siribopura and they would move there.
Sadly, we were not able to find a sponsor for the widow with the two children and in the case of Fatima Safra I had been very frank to Zariya, that it would be rather hard to find a sponsor in Switzerland for a Muslim girl wearing a scarf.
Shortly after our return to Switzerland a colleague of Monika’s, Shahnaz Sahedirad, took over a sponsorship for her.