I especially liked the visits with Fatima and Maduka, as both speak a little English, so that I was able to have direct talks with them. Fatima was still quite shy but Maduka became a very open and friendly boy.
Despite the fact that he was living at the house of his aunt in a very simple environment, he was very well brought up and very polite. He was doing some homework and emphasized that he was working hard for school.
My intention to finally learn Singhalese was suffering a hard setback while I watched him writing these strange letters. It was very easy to distract him from his homework with the soccer ball and the pump I had brought along. To the amusement of his friends and neighbors, we played some soccer and he was quite impressed by my performance! J
And of course, I had to fulfill the promise to buy him new shoes for school.
We had planned to visit Resla in the evening and after driving back and forth for almost two hours in the labyrinth of Siribopura where she had moved with her grandmother, we had to give up as everyone was pointing in another direction. In the end, the present Monika had sent with me for her goddaughter, had to be left with Chammi who would forward it to the girl.
I had suffered from severe stomach pain (anxiety) prior to my visit with Ruhi. Christine and Max had received a letter from the family at Christmas with the typical bloomy reports about the well being of the girl. It also said that Ruhi enjoyed looking at their photographs. Also, in the letter a picture was included that was not of Ruhi or her family, and did not show Christine and Max!
The sneaky suspicion was that the grandfather had arranged for two different sponsors for Ruhi, and on top of that, had made the stupid mistake to mix up the thank you letters. It was all more than I could digest. I had contacted Roy on the subject and was searching the net but there was nothing I was able to come up with that would have brought clarification.
Christine and Max had reassured us that it did not discomfort them too much but we wanted to sort it out. We had promised to the sponsors that we would make sure that the child would benefit directly and that we would keep in personal contact with the respective families.
My first chore Tuesday morning was to pay a visit to Ruhi’s grandfather. Besides Roy and his family, nobody gets informed about our visits but as soon as we are there the news spreads very fast.
I showed the photograph to the grandfather and told him what kind of confusion it had caused for Christine and Max. And what kind of suspicions had been raised.
The grandfather was very open and had no explanation on how the photograph had made it into the letter to Christine and Max.
To the other couple they had to send a postcard in Singhalese to the Christian ChildFund. There was no direct contact and other than a card from this other couple forwarded also by the Christian ChildFund and the photograph, that had gone missing, they did not have any further information.
I always had been under the impression that I was in an open and friendly house. I saw no reason to doubt the words of the grandfather.
Right after the tsunami the Christian ChildFund Australia had been taking pictures of all the orphans in Hambantota, including one of Ruhi. Some five months later they had received the postcard from the Australian couple through the office of the organization with no postage stamp on the card.
Since then he had received two payments of 1,000 rupees each (less than 10 Swiss francs). In exchange he had to send a thank you letter to the organization every six months. He had no idea how the picture had made it into the letter. Further that he had somehow mixed the pictures up was out of the question as he insisted on having all of Christine’s and Max’s photos in his photo album. He went for the album and there they were sticking under plastic, right next to the wedding pictures of his daughter who had died in the tsunami.
On the ChildFund post card there were the names of all the family members including the one of the dog. It said that they also had goldfish and lived in Sydney but there was nothing that would have helped to find them. On the other hand there would have been nothing else learned from the people than what was on the homepage of the foundation.
They had taken over a sponsorship for Ruhi and were paying $39 Australian each month.
The Christian ChildFund Australia guaranteed to the sponsors that not more than 20% would be used for administration and they emphasize that a contact to the child would only be possible through their office in Sri Lanka. The sponsors were also warned not to forward personal data to the child. As all the letters are translated by the organization, it is not possible in anyway that either side will have enough details to contact the other without the help of the organization.
It might possibly be quite disillusioning to the sponsors to learn how little of their help was received by the child personally.
On the other hand, if you read between the lines of these organizations, it should be clear to the sponsor that the money is not getting directly to the child, but to the whole community where the child lives.
Ruhi was not very pleased about our conversation and did everything to get my attention. J She is a charming little girl and very proudly handed me some pictures of her, obviously made by a professional photographer, which I was to forward to Christine and Max. Even prouder she introduced me to her little sister (actually her cousin) and she was calling her auntie, Amma.
She was as happy as a child can be who was very well looked after, and does not care a bit about strange things like Australia or Switzerland.