Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Sri Lankan culture is very big on the formal, ceremonial events.  So when it comes to a day to combine the award of the annual Sareth Memorial prizes, Prefects’ Day and receiving new shoes and uniforms it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that our poor, little school would have tried to push the boat out.
So we were met at the school gates by the Village School band and escorted in to the podium made from school chairs and banana boxes.  Given how little they have, it’s amazing how resourceful they can be.

The first part of the day was the appointment of class monitors, prefects and new Head Boy.  Each child was accompanied by a parent and it was impossible to tell who was brimming with the most pride.  Gihan, the outgoing Head Boy took his O Levels in December and should get the results next month. He is our best hope in getting good results and going on to further education and we hope his successor, who lives in the Village on the railway tracks does as well.
The new Head Boy receives his blazer and pin badge

And then, to mark the handover of Band leader, the band marched with the rest of the school in an astonishing display of pride.  For some, it’s hard to understand how significant a school band is, but for Sri Lankan schools it is very important.  So we were all almost moved to tears as we witnessed the progress the band has made in the 12 months or so since we first provided them with instruments. 
The 2011 prefects take their oath

The Sareth Memorial prize was conceived last year to recognise achievement and encourage attendance.  This year there were 3 prizes up for grabs for those who met the criteria.  The two younger winners chose bicycles as prizes whilst Aseena, the older girl and a winner from last year, chose instead an equivalent amount of money to be deposited to her education bank account which she cannot access until she is 18. Very shrewd and we think she will do very well. We managed to get the winners to pose momentarily for a picture before they whizzed off with huge grins.  And interestingly, we heard how a new boy to the school asked a teacher, "How do I get to win a prize" and when told, vowed to work hard so he could be a winner next year!

The 2010 Sareth Memorial Prize Winners

Finally, and after 3 hours under a hot sun, we handed out the new shoes and uniforms for every child.  The fact that some of the children had obviously borrowed shoes for today’s event highlighted how worthwhile this is so we’re indebted to those who make it happen.

Contemplating 135 pairs of shoes to hand out

Pride – to see the school children and parents proud of their school, acknowledgement of their achievements and appreciation of their smart new uniforms was amazing. And also, for FODAD, just to see how far the school has come in recent years was overwhelming but looking around at the smiling faces and across to the school, we allowed ourselves just a little bit of pride, too.

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