Updated: Dec 8, 2022
Just one month ago, we launched our Bead Program at Panadura. With Christmas around the corner, it was an overwhelming but exciting task to plan for two holiday parties, not one as usual. My nephews and nieces recently visited Sri Lanka from the US and, after many years I had finally met them and was able to share with them the work I do at Emerge. They promised me that they would collect as many funds as possible for the holiday parties scheduled for the 21strd of December. Chari, my nephew co-ordinated the whole project, based off of my budget and deadlines. After many weeks, I was excited when he informed me that, thanks to many generous contributions, he had reached the goals we had set and I could go ahead and plan the parties!
In coordinating the parties, I wanted to help as many people as possible. I carefully selected the suppliers we purchased gifts from, choosing suppliers and seamstresses who were underprivileged and could use the holiday order. We had a shirt and skirt made for every girl and we also purchased each girl two new pairs of underwear. By doing this, I was also able to save some mo
ney from the donations received to use to purchase supplies for the bead workshops and vitamins for the girls for the future. Items that I could not get from the suppliers who needed support, such as drinks and gifts for the games, were purchased from very crowded stores, bustling with holiday activity. I had to wade through the crowds during the height of the festivities; the holiday season is not the same, however, if there isn’t all the stress involved. On the 21st we had our party at Ma-Sevana and I had Prabhani, a Sri Lankan volunteer who has been studying in the U.S., and her sister organize the games for the kids. Jen, and Rohini (Ma-Sevana’s bakery teacher and one of the girls’ favourites) supported me during the celebrations. From the balloon games, to Statue and Baila dancing, to musical chairs and the musical hat game, the festivities went on with the girls having such a wonderful time. We served a tasty fried
rice meal with the traditional Papadams to go with it and dessert was ice creams cones (there was one girl who mentioned to us later that she had seven scoops! I guess they enjoyed the ice cream). The last event for the day was lighting of sparklers and the girls just enjoyed it very much. I was so glad I was able to give them the opportunity… one of the teens mentioned that she had not lit sparklers since she was a child and I was glad that I surprised them with it. The girls danced their cares away until after four that evening and they did not want us to leave; I was so glad that they enjoyed themselves so much. On the 23rd the Panadura girls had planned something different. They entertained us with an array of beautiful Sinhala Christmas carols, which was a pleasant surprise. Thereafter many games were played. All of th
eir favourite was the balloon game where they had to pop as many balloons as possible, and find as many gifts inside of them to receive the special prize. Unfortunately, I encountered a problem with my camera and I was sad that the most important photos were not captured. We had an former Bead Program participant who attended and the party and distributed gifts to the girls in Panadura. This made her very proud.
One of the teachers gave us a special thank you speech for appreciating them and the work they do by rewarding them with gifts. Generally, the teachers are often unnoticed when others visit or share gifts with the girls. This made my day and all the hard work put in to make both holiday parties wonderful and a memorable worth it. I cannot thank all of the donors who contributed towards this holiday enough. You made this year very special for every single girl we work with and provided some much-needed support to the staff who support these girls as well. Thank you for making both events so beautiful and memorable. Nirukshi