Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Visiting the Orphanage - Angela Home

In support of the project Suriya Lamai we visited an orphanage called Angela Home, which is located near Colombo. All those who read the Karuna Sevena website know that this is a project  which supports poor and abandoned children living in Asia. Thus we arranged a meeting with the women who take care of the home and specifically to obtain a list from them of things that the girls need  most.  They  particularly need  educational , health and hygiene items. We also made packages of  toys, candy and small gifts from the Czech Republic.

Girls  living  here permanently are aged between  five to sixteen years and attend  school  in the local village. Girls are placed here on the decision of the court and remain in the Angela Home until the age of eighteen. Some of them are orphans, others have one or both parents who are not able to take care of them. If they have relatives, they can spend the holidays (one month) with them. Four girls have this possibility now. The orphanage has four employees.

We arrived on a weekday afternoon and spent a whole afternoon, which passed by incredibly quickly. We were eagerly awaited. Upon arrival the girls greeted  us, bowed to  Venerable Visuddhi  and sang  a welcome song, which was very touching. Then we went inside to explore their home.

The first impression, however was quite bad compared to the initial enthusiasm. The walls inside were mostly moldy, dirty and everything  seemed  unkempt. Immediately we thought we should paint, buy  new furniture and clean up.

The building consists of a lounge and a room for  studying and doing homework for school.  A long, narrow hallway leads into the bedrooms for the girls. This is one large, open room where girls have no privacy. Everyone here has got a bed with a mosquito net. There is only one small locker for personal belongings in each room. Nothing more.  All equipment is very modest and already very worn.  From the bedroom down the hall we come to toilet facilities - toilets and showers are in a disastrous state. 

The toilet is a classic Asian "Turkish toilet".
An outdoor bathroom consists only of a bucket of water  for showering.  What one can really not help but notice is the poor waste system which smells awful. The sewage system overflows and it not only needs serious hygiene management, but also urgently needs to be filled and a new sewer system created. We discussed the issues with their "architect" who promised to help us with the creation of a draft plan which we hope to inform you of very soon. 

 Furthermore, there is also a kitchen  which gave us the impression of something out of the medieval times.  You  cook there on an open fire.
The roof of the accommodation space is open and does not have a ceiling, so mosquitoes have free access to fly inside. The mosquitoes hatch outside near the sewer system and thus seriously increases the risk of infection. This implies the urgent need to build an effective drainage system. 
In the second stage we aim to reconstruct better toilet facilites.

We were surprised that under these conditions  the girls seem to be happy as they did not complain but just enjoyed our meeting. Despite the fact  of the impoverished conditions ,  the girls were very clean and  dressed in  beautiful  clothes. They enthusiastically showed us  everything  and wanted to take many pictures and enjoy the time with us. 
After this the girls prepared refreshments for us. We talked about the possibility of our further assistance and we gave them a donation to buy things for the children.

After this, we all moved to the next building, where there is a monastic room.  We  respectfully

bowed in front of the Buddha  and recited the Karaniya mettā Sutta. The girls all knew it by heart and recited with great force and enthusiasm.  Venerable Visuddhi gave a dhammatalk, which encouraged the girls on how they can improve their lives and live happily. Then we all sat down for a short Metta meditation.

Before we left the girls danced and sang for us outside with graceful and elegant movements. Finally, we offered our gifts to the girls and joyously shared  the time with them.  It was very natural and spontaneous.

The whole visit left  a very strong emotional experience. A big benefit for us was not only to share happiness with  girls, but also to feel our own joy that we experienced in generosity.

Written by Táňa, Světlana and Hanka

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