This time last week I was in the sunnier climates of Sri Lanka. We were there to celebrate the marriage of two friends of ours, a happy occasion shared by family and friends alike. In the midst of the fun we wanted to experience the culture of the country and meet some of the people; so we did just that.
Amongst the wedding party there were two people who may have changed the way I see life and holidays forever; the father of the groom and his partner. Their outlook on life was one in which I feel I had forgotten or been missing. The get up and go, you only live once, just do it attitude was a breath of fresh air and made my holiday one I'd never forget.
There are things I have always wanted to do on holiday but hadn't, like visiting an orphanage/school/homes of children in the country I was visiting. I have seen many do it before but there has always been something that stopped me; fear of the unknown.
This is the furthest I have been from England and in a country with a recent history of devastation and loss, I just wanted to learn and help those still needing it. The 2004 tsunami hit the coast of Sri Lanka and devastated the country within one heart wrenching day. The loss of life was horrific and it left many children with no family members, homes or futures left at all. The orphanages were over flowing and many older children were left in the hands of neighbours and friends or to fend for themselves.
The guide books and locals say not to encourage the children begging on the street and to only donate gifts of books, pens, sweets etc to the local schools and orphanages instead.
We went to visit the local all girls orphanage in Bentota with gifts of books, pens and sweets. The girls were in their best clothes(because they had guests), their hair was beautifully done in bows and ribbons. They were happy and smiling. They were so polite I practically had to beg them to take more than one sweet at a time and each time there were full smiles and thank you's. They spoke better English than most of the locals we'd met and when asked about schools and the future they were all so positive and had dreams of businesses and well paid jobs.
It wasn't like I thought an orphanage would be like at all. I thought I'd be in tears of sorrow but in fact I was humbled by the upbeat nature of these children who lost everything but had the most beautiful attitude to life. WE CAN DO ANYTHING, much like the attitude of those who took us there.
Every year I donate our 'Christmas card' money to a charity, instead of writing and sending them. This year we donated to the kids of this orphanage and their Christmas trip fund, they could only afford to take some of the children, leaving the eldest ones behind. Between us all we paid for them all to go and much more. They were so grateful and for the books and pens too, as now they can do some homework and practice their writing. Just £20 of our money covers their food for many months. This Christmas I paid it forward to people in much more need than ourselves.
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