A Memorable Journey to Batticaloa…
What do you get when you put a bunch of energetic and passionate people in their early to mid 20s on a bus with a mission to change their world? An exhilarating and unforgettable ride! I had the most amazing and rewarding experience of my life at the recently concluded My Dream School Project VIII at Vilavaddan Vinayakkar Vidyalaya; a tiny school nestled in a quiet corner across a paddy field some 30 km from the town of Batticaloa in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. On January 20th Friday night we loaded a bus with paint, brushes, backpacks and school supplies and set off from Colombo watching the stars as the windswept our faces as we leaned out the windows, some of us getting some shut eye along the way.
The little village was just waking up when we arrived at the school. We unloaded the bus and after brief instructions got working right away. We worked in teams some painting the walls of the classrooms and others painting desks and chairs. We kept painting with breaks for tea and lunch. All meals were provided by the parents of the school. They brought the food and prepared it on school premises making sure we had hot nutritious meals. The children of the school came to school despite it being a Saturday to cheer us on. The kids returned after school in their regular clothes. After work was done in the evening we had a dance off with the kids. They loved it and so did we! The last task before dinner was to stuff brand new backpacks with books, pencils, pens and other needed school supplies and toiletries assembly style. The fresh scent of books brought back childhood memories of getting ready for the 1st day of school! After dinner and much needed showers we hit the mats and went to sleep.
On Sunday ,we continued to paint the classrooms and exterior walls. We also repaired some broken furniture, and playground equipment and painted the swing set with bright and happy colors of blue and pink! The kids couldn’t wait for the paint to dry to try them out. The classrooms were also swept and tidied up for the big day along with the school grounds.
On Monday Jan 23rd, we were ready at 6:30 am to get the ball rolling for the official handing over of the restored and renovated school looking brand spanking new! As we got the stage and hall ready we were delighted to witness the eager and expectant faces of students as they walked in and took their seats.
The ceremony started with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp. Speeches were made by the Principal of the school, teachers and students thanking IMCD and MDS for taking the initiative to come out and help improve the school and help the children by providing much needed school supplies, classroom supplies, sports equipment and musical instruments as well. The Needy Readers too made donations of packages of books to enhance the school library. Thereafter the children walked up to the stage according to their grades and each one received a backpack of their own. There was so much excitement as they opened their backpacks to discover their treasures later. Afterwards there was a dance recital by a group of students decked in beautiful costumes. Two IMCD volunteers shared their experiences of working with IMCD and giving back to the community by helping light up children’s lives and their futures. The event concluded with the team singing a song of unity and cooperation. Then it was time for photos with students, teachers, staff, and parents along with lots of selfies!
The tops package of donations under MDS 8 included the below :
- Painting the walls of the school buildings and furniture
- Renovation of the toilets
- Repairs of the damaged floor
- Donation of music instruments to establish a Western Band
- Donation of reading materials to the school library through “Needy Readers”, which is another project run by IMCD.
- Donation of sports equipment
- Donation of new school bags full of stationary and other school supplies to each student
- Donation of essential sanitary products to each student
- Each classroom (9 class rooms) was gifted with an essential resources pack including boxes of chalk, duster, cleaning accessories and other items
- Students, parents and the teachers were given a hope for a better tomorrow and we were able to make them believe in humanity once again.
Soon after lunch we boarded the bus back to Colombo and there was lots of singing, and chatter and sharing of snacks and life stories along with crazy Bollywood moves and a few games of charades to complete the journey. We arrived back in Colombo tired but energized in soul and spirit knowing we made a difference in the lives of 171 children and their families. Also wanting to sign up for the next My Dream School Event!
Impacting a child’s life -Priceless!!!
Article by :Sharminie Wickramasinghe ,Volunteer
For more details :Event Album
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