LEADS Sri Lanka, a committed organization

In Colombo we contacted LEADS, an NGO that is dedicated to the development of the most needy areas in Sri Lanka. They are involved in various programs related to family development, basic needs, education, in different areas of Sri Lanka. It began formally in 1983 to relieve human suffering. Since then they have done an excellent job for the most needy.

We contacted them, and agreed to share a little knowledge to apply it in their projects. The training was held in a room of the NGO building, and the attendance was 35 people, field staff assigned to different areas of the country.

They are very professional people so it was easy to get along and motivate us together. The activities were very fluid, everything according to their needs, we were conducting the training sharing experiences, suggestions and comments, very enriching …

It was also a pleasure to share the rest breaks, including the food, to comment on cases and needs of their work, their field experiences, together we were enriched by common experiences and knowledge.

The end of the workshop was a success, all the assistants were completely involved, motivated and hypnotized by the magic of the exercises that we proposed them !!!!! Even us, enjoying and chanting each exercise. The evaluation they gave us was great, they were delighted … We will see each other …

JRSS, for Tamil development in northern Sri Lanka

The following collaboration was with Jesuits Reconciliation Solidarity Sri Lanka (JRSS), the organization that remained after the dissolution of JRS in this country. They are dedicated to providing professional training to improve development in this area of ​​the country where the Tamil population predominates.

Our contact was Father Benny, a very singular person who loves theater and who has promoted street theater in India and Sri Lanka. With him we went first to Vavuniya to see the JRSS offices and then to Killinochi where we conducted the training.

The workshop was aimed at the JRSS staff and the women who attend the vocational center, in total 24 people, who for two days shared their experiences with us and we were able to enjoy their enthusiasm and commitment to improve.

At first we all had a shy attitude, but little by little we were letting go, without conditions or limitations. As we progressed, the complicity increased and the help and experience of Father Benny helped us all to let go much faster, laughing and trusting.

At the end of the second day we took the group photo, after having enjoyed, having shared, having expressed freely and having come together in the same room to mix our cultures and share our experiences … All a gift for us and for our experience … We’re leaving happy to have met you !!

Jesuits Vocational Center for the Tamils in the Hatton tea fields

From India we went to Sri Lanka, there we were awaiting the order of Jesuits to provide training in their vocational centers. The first stop was in the tea fields of the central mountains of Sri Lanka.

There we have the order of the Jesuits doing an exceptional job of training workers in the tea fields. In the nineteenth century the English moved thousands of people to work in the tea fields. The majority of the population came from the state of Tamil Nadú.

After the civil war in Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu Indians arrived in the 19th century did not obtain full citizenship, possess documentation but do not have full rights as citizens of Sri Lanka.

The situation of these people is quite worrying, and their conditions have not improved much. They live in the properties of the tea fields, without property and always conditioned to have to work in the tea fields in quite deplorable conditions.

We had the opportunity to visit a village in a tea field, we saw the conditions, they invited us to one of the houses to have a cup of tea that they cultivated and harvested there. They were very happy to be able to offer what they had, to spend some time together, enjoying their hospitality.

We also visited the village school, full of smiling children, waiting for us to play! We did a theater workshop for them, and they were delivered from the first minute !!! we play together, we laugh, we enjoy and we share …

For us it is full satisfaction, sharing and that the children enjoy without contention, freely, discovering, learning, delivered … Pure innocence!

Back in Hatton, we started the workshops in the vocational center. Our contact was Father Prem. The students were varied, from teachers of English, sewing and computer science, to the students of the center.

The training was intensive for 3 days, with 32 people, all eager to learn and share with us. As always at the beginning we gave ourselves the necessary time to get to know each other and connect, discover what we were doing there, but as the training progressed everyone became more and more involved, dedicated to creating, imagining and discovering our potentials, aptitudes and talents …

It did not take long to get to be one, to be all ready to everything and share every second giving everything …

At the end of the 3 days we concluded the workshops with very happy people, not for having finished but for the experience lived, we were thanked, and the evaluation was excellent … They were happy and we were happy … In the end we left with little gifts that they made us, between other things a kilo of Hatton tea, a valuable treasure that we still savor daily … Thank you very much !!!!

SOS Adeas Infantiles in Nuwara Eliya, at the doors of the children’s smiles

We arrived at Nuwara Eliya, at almost 1900 meters high, with cold and rain, a completely different scenario than we were 5 hours before, when we took the bus on the beach the temperature was at 30ºC … The change is radical … And there we contacted SOS Children’s Villages.

We agreed to do a small project in their facilities. We arrived at the farm of SOS Children Villages, we were welcomed by Sandun, the second on board of the organization in Nuwara Eliya. He gave us a guided tour of the facilities and explained the mechanism of the children’s villages, as there are women who act as mothers to a group of children, as they also have advisors who help them and guide them for an adequate development. In addition they took us to the auditorium where we would carry out the workshops and the performance.

And the first group arrived, there were about 60 children between 5 and 12 years old … It was a little messy at first, it was difficult to keep the attention of so many children, but then we had to adapt the activities to the requirements of the attendees … In the end everything was great, and the children were delighted and motivated to share together the activities and the stage … to eat them with those laughs and smiles, making mischief and seeking the reaction of their audience …

The following workshops, of a total of 4 workshops in two days, were also very good, the boys and girls enjoyed it a lot, at first a little reluctant and timid, feeling for what the topic was, but little by little they started to get infected. the desire to work, to share and to enjoy together the activities …

Finally we made for the group of children who could attend our clown show … It was the culmination of all the work done, with laughter, with the participation, love and love of the children … We are left engraved in the heart, and reminds us why we are doing what we do …

We will not forget the faces and the sensation of sharing all this time together … We leave with a little bit of you and leaving something of ours, affection and love …

Peace building Project with refugees from Sri Lanka and JRS Tamil Nadu

Finally, the day came when we put into practice the peace building manual that we had built in collaboration with JRS. The implementation consisted of training for the 225 facilitators of the Complementary Education Centers (CEC) that JRS has built in the different Tamil refugee camps of Sri Lanka in the state of Tamil Nadu in India.

In total we did 4 rounds of 3 days of training and a final round of 5 days for JRS staff. The purpose of these training rounds was to transfer the knowledge of the part of the Peace Building Manual created by Clown Science Dreams to JRS staff and facilitators so they can apply it in the refugee camps.

In the first 4 rounds we had the opportunity to meet again with all 225 CEC facilitators in the refugee camps, and they themselves are refugees. The rounds were held in Madurai, Vellore, Madurai and Dindigul.

They were moments of great joy and participation, all the facilitators turned totally, dedicated to the training, sharing with us their experiences and their motivations, their sorrows and their joys. For us it was a pride, a gift, to be able to share these moments with them and feel how they welcomed us with open arms, without reservations.

In each round, as usual, on the night of the second day, JRS staff and facilitators organized the cultural night, where they exhibited their artistic skills … singing typical Tamil songs, reciting poems, doing dances, or full theater performances of emotion and tradition … They were special moments, which they proudly offered us, gave us away.

The last round of 5 days served to train JRS Tamil Nadu staff for themselves to finish the training of the pending part to the facilitators. It was intensive, dense and thanks to its very enriching human quality. Together we were able to walk the path of much of the manual, step by step, building their stories, our experiences and together we shared an incredible time.

From our view outside of what they have experienced we could feel the experiences, in many terrifying times they have lived, but we also learned from their joy and their strength to overcome any situation, together, in community, always willing to share and to spread together.

They were intense days, sometimes hard and tired, but also full of joy and love. They helped us to know them a little more, to know a little more about their history, and also to know ourselves, getting to share with them our interior, our heart … We are sure that we will see each other … We miss you already !!!

Drop Out Girls JRS Tamil Nadu, dedicating ourselves to share to improve the future

The next collaboration was made in the Indian city of Trichy (Tiruchirapally). We came back to carry out a training for the girls in the refugee camps of Sri Lanka.

The project of JRS Drop Out Girls provides professional technical training to these girls to provide them with a future, training to earn a salary in the future.

Training is provided for cutting and making pieces of clothing using sewing machines, English is taught and also taught to work in a beauty salon, common trades in the culture where they live and that will provide them with income in a relatively easy and fast way .

The training was held in a house of the Capuchin monks, a perfect and simple place, with rooms for the girls, the trainers (us), and a large room where we could do the workshop. We expected a week of intensive training, all day, 5 days, with 27 girls from 14 to 22 years old. We were going to share great experiences together, where we would learn from each other while also learning from ourselves.

The first contacts, as we usually do, were difficult, they were very shy, they were surprised and hiding among them … we used it to joke and provoke a bit … in this way we started to break the ice.

We started the training with activities that made them understand what we were doing there, little by little the connection was increasing, we began to share our experiences. Each day that passed the confidence increased and that was noticeable in the results, in the delivery, and we appreciated it.

We spent all day together, eating and having dinner together, we talked about our lives and we asked and they asked us, it was most interesting to understand a little more the possible cultural differences and the different vital frames. We started having a common joke that brought the relationship closer.

Until the last day of training, it was not easy. We did the last activities and it was time to say goodbye. There were tears and we were asked that the training last longer! They were totally delivered and they were having a great time …

They told us very nice words, the evaluation of the training was exciting and emotional … We were happy to know that we had contributed to improve their lives, to be part of their memory with a smile. Surely we will return to and we will be able to share more time together … we will miss you …

JRS Sri Lanka Refugees, sowing the future of the people

After the experience with Chin refugees in Delhi, JRS asked us to give another workshop, this time to the tamil refugees from Sri Lanka. In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu there are 107 refugee camps of tamils from Sri Lanka. These are refugees who mostly left Sri Lanka because of the civil war.

In Sri Lanka live a large number of tamil people. They are a minority, only the 25% of the population of Sri Lanka, while the Sinhalese etnic group is the majoritary. The origin of the tamil population are mainly two. Anthropological and acheologiacal studies indicated that the tamil ethnia was present in the island of Sri Lanka on the 2nd century BCE.

Additionally, during the english colonisation in 19th century, a big number of workers from India, mainly from Tamil Nadu, were moved by the british to work in the Ceylon´s tea fields (Ceylon is the english name for Sri Lanka). Once the british left, the goberment of Sri Lanka did not provide full citizenship rights to this tamils living in Sri Lanka.

The conflict exploded on the Black July of 1983, when started a national revolt against the Tamils. Since then, Sri Lanka was immerse in a long civil war. The Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ​​claimed the north and east of Sri Lanka as an independent Tamil state called Eelam. In 2009 the LTTE ​​admitted defeat and the war ended. During the civil war a great number of the tamil population moved as refugees to different destinations. One destination was the state of Tamil Nadu in India, where they reside since then awaiting a solution, without nationality from Sri Lanka or India, therefore, they are exempt from any rights as citizens.

JRS is responsible for training refugees to be teachers of personal and professional development within the refugee camps. These promote and teach skills to young people and adults in refugee camps to facilitate their integration into employment wherever they reside.

We were going to do a training for these teachers in the first edition of the teachers’ meeting of all refugee camps of Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu, which would be held for two days in Tiruchirapally, or Trichy.

The objective of this meeting was to unite all the professors of the different refugee camps to get to know each other and share experiences. With the JRS staff that manages them, it was a total of 250 people. Our contact was the director of JRS Tamil Nadu, Father Alex, director of JRS Tamil Nadu, a very nice man.

We arrived at Trichy by plane from Delhi. The lack of time and the enormous distance between Delhi and Trichy meant that going by train would be too long. There we were welcomed by Father Alex, who took us to our accommodation, located in the center of personal development, TMSS de Trichy, where the meeting would begin the following day.

We went to the room to review the plan a bit for the next two days. We would do 4 sessions of 2 hours to groups of 60 people between 20 and 30 years old. Two people for 60 person was a challenge … but we were sure it would not be difficult.

And it dawned on Trichy !!!! Breakfast started at 7:30, but the sessions would not start until 10 a.m. First there was a ceremony to present the event with guests such as the United Nations representative of India for refugees (UNHCR), the chief of the Tamil Nadu police, a very powerful person, or the superior father of the Jesuits of Tamil Nadu. Between typical dances and speeches that we did not understand we spent an entertaining time …

And time of truth arrived. In a huge room we had almost 60 people. they had placed the chairs as a conference room and they were all sitting waiting for the speech … in India they love the speeches … Well, not this time … we made everyone get up and put the chairs stacked at the end of the room. Everyone did it with a face between shock and amazement … hehehe …

We started with the warm-up, a fun and casual tone, then the typical exercises of concentration to unite and focus the group, and we are already in the field. We had prepared communication exercises and group work. Everything was great, communication, coordination, everyone had a great time. They were surprised to perform practical exercises !!

The faces of concentration and fun were great! Every moment they discovered concepts by themselves, shared them, played with them. They discovered different realities besides simple and obvious …

The content of the workshops was the same for the 4 groups. Although we lacked time to perform the last exercise in all cases, the sequence of exercises was great, for the enjoyment and enrichment of all.

Group to group concluded with different comments but oriented in the same direction, and above all praised the teaching techniques … we are clowns! what did you expect? For good or bad this fact could not go unnoticed … hahahaha …

And the night came. In the program I had prepared a kind of Christmas gala, where different groups showed dances they had prepared, reading poems, skits, songs … Until it was our turn … They asked us to do something … they left us frozen, what were we going to do!!!!!

So dead of shame in front of about 250 people we started singing a song … without music! Well, that “we” is not completely true … Mayra very boldly stepped aside and left the brown in my hands … Anyway, we have the video but we will not be able to see it because we do not remember the moment … hahahahaha … In addition, of all this, two Santa Claus appeared, with masks of shrunken face that was scary … But everyone had a great time, we spent some time together enjoying and sharing … Good organization!

The next day we did the last workshop, with the same exercises. It came out great, and at the end I played the routine session of selfies … an endless round of selfies with everyone, alone or / and in a group … hehehe ..

And the day ended between greetings, hugs and talks about the workshops. A very interesting shared experience that has taught us a lot. Especially about the kindness of these people and the great work that JRS does for the refugees from Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu. We will see each other again !!!!