What did I expect?

OceanStars :: Saturday 1st November 2008 :: This Story

What did I expect? I had no definite picture in my head of what pre-school in this part of Sri Lanka would be like. At home the pre-schools I know are well stocked with toys, games, craft resources etc. So it came as yet another shock to arrive at Poonachimunai pre-school on Tuesday morning to find 35 children dressed in their finest (!) They were waiting patiently in their seats and looking tentative.

We were warmly welcomed and Jan and I then proceeded to try and introduce the children to circle games, beanbags(!), stories, rhymes and picture. They gradually relaxed and it was a joy to see them smile when they completed something by themselves or had fun taking part in one of the games.

Jan found some unopened jigsaws in a cupboard – they’d obviously not seen anything like them before. So we spent a while working with them one at a time, allowing each to have a go by themselves. They quickly realised what they had to do and were obviously so chuffed when they found they could complete the puzzle themselves. Their smiles and laughter meant everything to us.

The soldiers came by at one point and sat outside under a tree for a while – what they made of the “humpty dumpty” falling off his “wall”, I’m not quite sure.
Wednesday was more of the same – the children gradually became more confident and noisier. By Wednesday lunch time we were exhausted – the heat is intense, as are the flies. There is nowhere to hide.

Visiting several of the children in their homes is another part of the story. A whole different world – it is one thing to see pictures of families in poverty. It is another to be in their presence and look into their eyes. I love the way they care for each other – sharing all that they have. They are a true community and in that sense far richer than us.

Maureen and Jan