I’ve been in Sri Lanka for a total of 4 days now, but I feel like it’s been much longer because of all the people I’ve met and things I’ve done. Yesterday I visited Ma-Sevana, the home run by Sarvodaya in which the Emerge Bead Program is currently operating. It’s hard for me to find words to describe my first encounter with these girls, except to say that they are truly beautiful individuals. There is a mental disconnect for me between the calm, serene surroundings of the home and each girl’s difficult past. But I can see on their faces how much they’ve already overcome, and I am so happy to be helping them along on this process of self-discovery and fulfillment. Nirukshi, our Bead Program Coordinator in Sri Lanka, picked me up in her car on her way to the home. When we arrived, I immediately helped out – Monday is the day we run a jewelry workshop.
The girls set goals for how many products they want to produce each week, and on Mondays Nirukshi (and now I) check on their progress – making sure the jewelry is made correctly, and giving them gold stars when they reach their goals. The girls were pretty shy of me at first. They all went around the table and introduced themselves, saying “My name is X.” in English. I reciprocated their attempt at communication by greeting them all with Ayubowan (Hello in Sinhala) and saying “sthoothiy” (thank you) when applicable. The best part of the visit was being able to match faces with the initials on the pieces of jewelry I’ve purchased over the past year. For confidentiality reasons (the girls are in various places in their court trials) Emerge Global cannot release photos of the girls. I’ve included two photos that protect the girl’s identities while still showing you what it was like on my first day.My first step in Sri Lanka is complete, and I once again have reaffirmed why I decided to come here. Stay tuned for more updates.