Saying Goodbye

Sometimes my life seems like a series of goodbyes. Wherever I go, I become attached and never stay long enough. Our time in Sri Lanka came and went to so fast. As I said goodbye to the children at Samudra Sri, the children’s home, I realized that although I may never see them again, I will never forget them. They did not seem as needy as the Indian children. They were more shy in general and harder to get close to. Maybe we just needed to reach out to them on a deeper level. They really seemed to respond when we did.

I had so much to do before leaving tonight but I just had to spend some final time with the kids. I went into the boys dorm and hugged and tickled them. Ravindu wanted to just hang with me. Chamarra would not leave my side. The kids began to give me gifts. When the others saw, they all wanted to give me something. They have so little that I felt terrible to take anything from them. I knew that they merely wanted to give to me, however, and to not take their gifts would’ve hurt their feelings. Most of them gave me a little plastic animal. One little guy gave me his toy car. Ishara gave me a pen. Others gave me sea shells that they had no doubt long collected. Then at the very end, little Chamarra, not wanting to be left out of the giving, gave me his box of crayons. I’m crying as I think about how much this touched me. These little guys have nothing in this world but the people who love and care for them at Samudra Sri. I was so afraid that I had not taken the time to get close to them while I was there but in my final moments with them, they showed me so much love through their little gifts. It makes me weep.

Lord, care for these children. Help us to tell their story in a way that is vivid and powerful. May their stories touch and change lives. May each and every one of them grow up to know you. Lord show them your love. Though their parents and everything they knew was taken from them by war, the tsunami, poverty, death or for any other reason, may they always knows that You are their Father.

Leaving the children tonight was more than just another goodbye. It was a sad departure. I wrote on my profile that the thing I was least looking forward to on this trip was having to say goodbye at each place and this has truly turned out to be the hardest part of the trip. How do you answer a precious little child who with a pleading look in his eyes, asks, “You go to America, then you come back to Sri Lanka?”

Life, Sri Lanka, Travel

De Silva

These last few days we’ve had the opportunity to travel to the Southern coast of Sri Lanka in order to film and take support photos for the children attending the AED schools at Galle and Tangalle. Two things stand out about this area of the country. First, it is a beautiful area lined with miles of pristine beaches. Second, it is an area tragically struck by the tsunami of 2004. Many homes and businesses still lay in ruins. Driving through this region has helped me to clarify the reality of what these people suffered.

Driving by, however, could never teach me as much as what I learned from a man named De Silva. As I climbed out of our van to take a few quick pictures of buildings destroyed by the tsunami, he approached me and wanted to talk. As we engaged in conversation, it was obvious that he had a story to tell. He took me into his home and showed me how the entire back half of it had been destroyed. They had since rebuilt this part of the home but the front was still significantly damaged. In broken English he told me about not only about the damage done to his home but also to the surrounding area.

At first I thought maybe he was doing all this to ask me for money. As he told his story, it became more evident that all he wanted was for people to know what had happened to Sri Lanka in the tsunami. He asked me to tell this story with my camera and to help get support for Sri Lanka. This is exactly what I intend to do. DeSilva helped to remind me one more time of the importance of the task that we’ve undertaken, to capture the film and photos of those who have a story to tell that may never otherwise be heard.

Life, Sri Lanka, Travel

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The kids at Samudra Sri are adorable! Samudra Sri, means “Beautiful by the Sea” and is the orphanage that we are filming at here in Sri Lanka. Most of these children lost their parents to the war in Sri Lanka or the tsunami. Others come from poverty stricken situations where one or both parents could not take care of them.

We have been interviewing the children and learning more about their stories. What is remarkable is that with all that they have to be sad about in their lives, they are so happy here. The staff of AED seems to really care about them, the place that they live is full of fun and learning and as we talk to them we learn that they look ahead to a bright future. We will be telling more of their stories in the near future!

Life, Sri Lanka, Travel