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By: Charuni Ranchigoda

Emerge Lanka Foundation Office Manager and Mentor Waiting…

Thursday before last, I got a phone call that led to a flurry of activity on my part. Nirukshi phoned me from one of our workshops to say that INK (as Deshini named her) was going home! She was due to go home the next day! INK is my mentee. This was something I had wished for her all along! Her Grandfather and aunt were on their way, first to the courts and then to pick her up. I wanted to meet her as promised and had to do it in a matter of hours, if not minutes. It was already evening and I was faced with the prospect of balancing the remainder of a full day of work and visiting my mentee. Most importantly, I had to give her all the things I had been collecting for her (mentors cannot give presents to individual girls as this would lead to problems among them) After several phone calls and with confirmation of the shelter’s consent to visit her after visiting hours (which would end before I could get there), I rushed home an hour early from work to ‘prepare’. (Preparing meant getting together all the little presents and useful items I had collected for her and rushing out, still in my work clothes) Seven thirty p.m. saw me on my way to the shelter (thanks to Sisitha, who never fails me in my strange and varied moments of need, like this one) The car painfully gnawed its way through post rush hour traffic and finally reached there around eight thirty p.m. I was too excited to notice the harassment of traffic we so often complain about. We were at the visitors’ area now and I knew INK will be having mixed feelings. So was I. Yet, deep down inside, I was intensely happy. Happy that she has finally had her chance to fly, and blend into the outside world. To carve a niche in it which she can call her own. To use her many talents and test her boundaries. In short, to taste the world like any average young adult would, with all its woes and joys. INK was surprised and happy (as always) to see me. She had gone to bed but had been unable to sleep, unable to contain all the excitement she felt. She talked about many scenarios involving her future. She was determined to be ‘an obedient child’. She spoke of giving her friends ‘a treat’. She was wondering how things will be without them and ws sure she will miss all of them. In her words, ‘even the ones who were wicked to me’. After spending as much time as I possibly could in that relatively late hour (for a visitor) I took my leave of INK, wishing her all the very best. This wasn’t an end, but a beginning. I had already made up my mind to visit her at home as promised. I left the shelter with a sense of fulfillment, having witnessed a happy beginning. However, the following Thursday, when I happened to visit the shelter with Amanda, I learnt that INK was still There! Her ‘file’ had been misplaced, delaying the court order to whatever day it will be found. I felt like I had been waiting for a sky full of fireworks, only to find on single cracker going out with a ‘poof’..Meanwhile, a girl who was thought to be dead by her family, who was found at last through the enormous efforts of a counselor and a priest in a rural village, is waiting to go home, in her shelter still, (as she did for eight long years) with a heart full of hope. She is waiting this very minute, with a prayer in her heart.So am I.

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