I leave Sri Lanka in 9 days to fly home to my family. A lot has happened in the last year back home (I have a sister-in-law now and a brand new baby cousin) and I’m very excited to see everyone after 11 months away. But as my departure date gets closer I’m sad about all the people I’ll be leaving behind.
Rachael, my roommate/colleague and friend has been there with me through all of our ups and downs this year, from the excitement of opening the home at Panadura, to our struggle with Sri Lanka house pests, to our truly epic trip to Jaffna – the forbidden north. She’s been the enforcer when any tough talk had to be done, and is willing to take on any fight on behalf our girls. Rachael, I’ll see you in the States!
Nirukshi who has been a substitute mother to me all year, teaching me the proper use of a mosquito net (and no doubt preventing me from getting dengue or malaria), encouraging me to take vitamin C and cod liver oil when I’m sick, and stepping in to be my eyes, ears, and voice in all of my relationships with the girls. Nirukshi I appreciate your help and your friendship and I’ll miss you!
The girls have inspired me so much this year. I love to see how quickly they learn, hear about their dreams for the future, and joke around with them about the many cultural differences we’ve encountered. While I will be sad to go, as I’ve been sad to see several of the girls move on during the year, I’m thrilled that they’ll now have a programs officer who can not only joke with them, but share the issues close to their hearts. My wish for the girls is that they would all learn to read and write, finish their high school educations, and won’t give the time of day to any boy who doesn’t respect them.
The things I’ll miss about Sri Lanka itself? String hoppers, flowers, the beach, all the bustle and craziness on the streets (Iowa will be boring in comparison), monkeys, geckos, football(soccer!)and cricket, pub quiz, the baby downstairs that always smiles at me, cows in the street, fresh fruit every day, the call to prayer at dusk, the mountains, pol sambol, school kids in white, delivery people for everything from yogurt to mops, rickety trains, colorful skirts, tuk tuks, and just the feel of the place. It’s all beautiful and exotic and rewarding at the end of a long day struggling to get things done and I will look back very warmly on this island during the cold winters at home.