Programs of Support for the Galle Girls’ Home and the Baddegama Boys’ Home
MAST Industries started working with Suwasetha in 2005 with the sponsorship of the renovation and reconstruction of two Sarvodaya Suwasetha children’s homes: the Galle Girls’ home and the Baddegama Boys’ home. However MAST’s work with Suwasetha has since expanded in scope with the many programs of support they offer to the children at these homes. These programs strive to develop the children socially, educationally and emotionally, and as well try to increase the comfort and attractiveness of their surroundings.
These programs have been envisioned and implemented by Limited Brands/MAST Cares, which is the international component of MAST Industries dedicated to social outreach and assistance, and The Fairytale Fund, which is the community support initiative of the Sri Lankan regional office of MAST.
The programs incorporate ideas and suggestions from the children themselves as well as their housemothers. The following initiatives have the full support of Suwasetha and the matrons of the homes as they understand and appreciate that the generous donation of time and recourses from MAST has allowed the children to gain new experiences and interactions that have brightened their days and will forever enrich their lives.
The local MAST staff have organized and accompanied the children on several interesting outings. These excursions are to places or events that the children would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience. They are designed to be not only fun and exciting but also strive to teach the children or open their eyes to something new and different.
Past outings have been to:
- The Koggala Beach Hotel for lunch, singing and dancing
- A Turtle Hatchery on the Galle coast
- The Chinese Circus at the Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo
A future overnight outing is currently being planned to Kandy so that the children can watch the Perahara in August, which is a colourful and exciting cultural parade filled with elephants, dancers and drummers.
The children greatly anticipate these outings, and are usually up and ready in the early hours of the morning waiting for the familiar MAST buses to arrive at their homes. They try to savour each moment of their outings and are constantly singing and talking excitedly (and are exceptionally well behaved!). The children understand that these are rare opportunities to step out of their villages and their regular daily routine, and embark into exciting, new territories. In return the children express nothing less than sheer joy and great appreciation.
Games and Activities
The local MAST staff have also spent time visiting the children and engaging them in games and activities. The children and staff either stay together in one large group or break up into smaller groups. The activities are planned so that the children can have fun while also receiving the benefit of social interaction and attention, outside the regular loving care of their house mothers.
Such past activities have included:
- Cricket and other outdoor games
- Making puzzles
- Playing board games
- Shopping trips in small groups
- Playing carom
- Drawing and painting together
Future activities will include picnics and more outdoor sports.
As all children, these girls and boys thrive off the attention and care shown to them by adults. However as these particular children have already lost their original family due to various circumstances, they are even more keen for personal interaction and affection, and are rarely timid about showing their enjoyment and attachment. MAST staff members have managed to gain and maintain the children’s trust by showing their commitment and genuine care for them. Therefore, in just a few visits the children and staff have managed to form close bonds which mean a great deal to the children and adults alike.
Donation of Goods
MAST Industries have supplied many items for the children and their homes. These goods are either necessities or are extras given to increase the children’s enjoyment while at the homes. They are donated by MAST in order to assist Suwasetha in maintaining healthy and pleasant homes for the children.
Past donations have included:
- English books
- Cookies, cereals and other dry food and snacks
- Special clothing for Sinhala and Tamil New Year
- Board games and puzzles
- Art supplies
- Sports equipment
- TV’s and antennas
- Dishes and cups
The local MAST staff is currently conducting an art competition in each of the homes. The children were given art supplies such as paper, paints and pastels and were told to create pictures of things that made them happy. Quickly the children began drawing and painting such things as flowers, the beach and animals.
Three weeks later MAST representatives came to the homes to pick up the artwork and the children proudly showed off their beautiful creations. The drawings will be judged by a panel of MAST staff members and the children will be awarded prizes accordingly. Although the children are unaware of it, the contest is designed so that each child will receive a prize under a specific category.
The children’s artwork will be framed and returned to them so that they can display their work in their home. This activity was wonderful in allowing the children the ability to express their creativity and use materials once foreign to them. It also enabled them to discover their talents and take pride in their abilities.
In May the children will start English lessons to complement their normal school English classes. This extra tuition is useful because while the children attend their classes and complete their work regularly they still seem to lack full comprehension and the ability to converse well in English.
The children will receive approximately 3 to 4 hours of English lessons per week. The girls will be attending classes at the nearby home of an English teacher and the boys will be taught by a teacher who will come to their home. The goal of this English program is to increase the children’s confidence in using the language, which should lead to better employment opportunities for them in the future
MAST Industries is currently undertaking two separate avenues to generate funds to be used on the children and their homes:
1. The artwork created by the children during competition will be put onto items such as shirts, stationary and calendars for sale to MAST employees.
2. The Limited Brands/MAST Cares Auction
- Limited Brands/MAST Cares will be holding an auction in early May in the U.S. which will contain some items representing the two homes.
- From the boys’ home packages of tea will be auctioned off that contain tea from the tea bushes on the property of the boys’ home. In addition the label on the packages contains the artwork of one of the boys from the home.
- From the girls’ home terracotta vases painted and decorated by the girls themselves will be on auction.
The funds generate by the above items will be used to continue to offer more excursions, activities, goods and programs for the children.
By Tarini Jayawardena