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Religious Youth Service

RYS Participants Rennovate an Orphanage in Ratnapura

Ratnapura, Sri Lanka – This year's project was planned for Ratnapura, the world-famous city for gems, in Sri Lanka. It is also famous for rubber and low country tea plantations. Ratnapura is a multifaith city of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Geographically Ratnapura is situated in an area of regular rainfall. Therefore it is abundant with natural beauty in the surrounding vicinity including a virgin tropical rain forest.

On the first morning, participants gathered up near the Fort railway station and the son of the president of Sri Lanka, Mr. Namal Rajapakse, paid a surprise visit to greet all and to offer his good wishes on our project.

After all the formalities, the enthusiastic participants arrived at the field to do their part. Some worked hard at digging up the earth for the foundation and pillars, while a few other participants did landscaping. They worked mixing the cement and applying the concrete to the study room we were building for the children.

The work project was to build a study hall and to repair and upgrade the existing play area of the local orphanage which houses 22 boys, all less than 12 years old.  Five of them are Tamils and the others are Sinhalese. The children have all been sent to the Ratnapura orphanage by the government because either they have been abandoned or their parents are in jail. The orphanage is managed by the Buddhist Society of Ratnapura which depends heavily on the donations of well wishers. However, the donations the orphanage receives are barely enough for the day-to-day maintenance of the children.

The participants enjoyed visits to a Buddhist Temple and also took part in a Hindu ritual.  They visited a gem mine and finished their stay in Sri Lanka in the rain forest.

“Although I’ve participated in several Youth Projects, this is the first time I was able to really be ‘Interreligious’- this was unique,” said the head girl of the Lyceam International School, Colombo (and IPSF 2007 participant in Basketball) Ishara Guruge.

Daniel, a school teacher from Jaffna, north of Sri Lanka, thanked RYS for the wonderful experience he had because it for changed his idea about the Southern Sinhalese, who are thought to be discriminating to the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Ratnapura, Sri Lanka: August 18-24, 2007

 

 

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