Like Ellen said, this month has been a whirlwind of activity. I’m so sad that it all has to end and we have to leave Sri Lanka, but I’m thankful for the brief time that we had. It’s been so great working closely with Ellen and Nirukshi forging the future path for Emerge. Likewise, it’s been an incredible experience getting to know the artists of Emerge. No one would be able to discern how much they have endured through day to day interaction with them – they smile just like any other girl would. I truly admire their strength and grace.
I was also impressed by how quickly they picked up on the idea of managing money, and how willing they were to help each other out. Some girls picked up on what we were trying to do right away. They could do arithmetic in their head with ease, and they studied the price sheets to calculate roughly how much it would cost them to make each type of jewelry and thus how much they would profit. A couple of the girls pointed out to me that it costs them much more to make earrings than other kinds of jewelry because earring hoops and clasps were almost twice as expensive as the bindings for other items. They felt better after I reassured them that we scaled what we paid them for earrings accordingly. It was really exciting to see them think about these concepts right from the get go! Most girls had no problem with the exercise, but a few girls did have trouble doing things like adding up their order sheets, or understanding how credits and debits worked in their bank accounts. For example, Bishakha (all names have been changed for
anonymity) had trouble doing basic addition and subtraction. Thankfully though, the girls were very sensitive to each other’s needs. One older girl, Daksha, who had had more education, took it upon herself to take Bishakha under her wing and walk her through the entire process. The girls were so willing to help each other that they made our job easy. After we explained how everything worked, we were able to take a step back, and let them take care of everything!
In our time working with the girls, they showed us a thing or two as well. They taught us some Sinhala while we helped out at the store and the bank. We got some of the basics down, like ayubowan (basic greeting), owu (yes), nae hae (no), and lassanna (it’s beautiful), and we also learned how to count. Here’s a picture of Aaron manning the store. It looks like he’s counting “eka, deka, tuna…” with the other storekeeper. Also, on one of the last days, they turned on some music and taught us how to dance to popular Sinhala songs. We gave it a shot and tried to shake it like they did, but personally I doubt we’ll ever match their skills. Ahh, the memories… I’m going to miss them all so much! I hope someday we’ll make it out to Sri Lanka again.Ellen, April, and Nirukshi – I wish you all the best, it’s been a pleasure working with you. I have total confidence that you gals will be an unstoppable team, and I look forward to hearing about all of the wonderful things you will do to help Emerge grow!
Cheers! Sheena & Aaron