As written by Rtr Kashuni Kariyawasam,
“Kindness, a simple way to tell another struggling soul that there is love to be found in this world..”
And 29th of July 2017 dawned, indicating a perfect weather for spreading happiness and love. As we reached our destination, we found smiles hanging over the gates, with eyes eagerly waiting for us, and that very moment we knew we had already succeeded in fulfilling our intention, gifting a smile.
Gift a Smile is a major project under the community service avenue of Rotaract Mora, of which each phase focuses on upliftment of living conditions of a children’s home elsewhere in the island. As a part of the 17.2 phase of this project, co-chaired by Rtr. Shamal Jayakody and Rtr. Sachitha Bandara, a renovation session of Jagaddala Child Development Center, Kidelpitiya, Bandaragama, was carried out on the 26th and 27th of July, where the kids had grown quite intimate and friendly with the Moratuwe aiyala, that they had already learnt the names of some of our crew members.
On the big day, as Rtr. Malitha Gunawardhana and Rtr. Hiranya Panawenna started the morning session, we were surprised to see that none of the 24 kids, ranging from the grade 1 toddler to the GCE A/L youngster, were shy to stand up and talk out to the crowd. After exchanging introductions and singing a couple of songs, a round of refreshments followed, and it indeed did revive everybody up with a new enthusiasm that all of us shot out to the garden to play around.
The outdoor session was much fun with a combined version of pass-the-ball and musical chairs, and an energetic session of Kabaddi. By this time, the children had quite well blended with our Rotaractors, that there could be seen little difference between them and us, resembling a set of siblings that had grown up together all their lives. When the crowd was thus worked up and exhausted, again the music crew stepped in and filled the air with the soothing sound of their instruments and voices, where everybody joined hands in singing along a set of popular songs, followed by a scrumptious lunch sponsored by the generous-hearted donors of Gift a Smile 17.2.
The evening session began with passing water balloons, and continued for several hours with exuberant rounds of run-and-catchers, football and cricket. Meanwhile, some of us worked on replacing the old bed covers and pillow cases with the new ones we had brought. Among the other items we donated were mosquito nets and fans, which we had identified as essentials the children had been deprived of.
Time had flown by without notice. It was time for us to say good-byes. The children, as well as the caretaker of the development center, expressed their gratitude for reaching out to them and extending a helping hand. And the representative of our ’16 batch of engineering faculty, Mandapa Pandithage, voiced valuable advice for the kids using simple exemplary characters he himself had met in life, filling them with hope and strength to rise up despite the mental suffering and lack of facilities.
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
And when we turned back, one of the small kids came running up to us. “Aiyala yannada hadanne? Tawa tika welawak indala yannako”, the broad smile he had kept wearing on his face all day had faded. Our hearts sank to our feet; with promises to return, we left him, while bearing the thought that although the day had ended, it was not merely physical goods and temporary happiness that we had provided him, but also lessons worth a lifetime for him to stand up on his own feet.
“Where there is life, there is hope!”