SRI LANKA/BOOKS FOR THE 'MOTHER THERESA' HOME
Sri Lanka is also named Pearl of the Indian Ocean. And justly so, for nature on this island is truly paradisiacal, the inhabitants are friendly and hospitable and there is a rich age-old culture. One can hardly imagine that on this wonderful island almost 20 years a bloody civil war has reigned, claiming some 63,000 victims. Fortunately there is now a truce for peace whereby the parties, guided by Norwegian observers, are talking again with one another.
The economic situation in the country is, also because of this war, disastrous. The government hardly invests in schools. Only the teachers' salaries, the printed textbooks, and one(!) school uniform per child per year are being paid by the government. All the rest has to be paid for by their parents' contributions. Since a large part of the population lives below the poverty line, this does not really work. There are usually no libraries and certainly not in the poor areas. And if there is one, it isn't up to much. It is very much appreciated that Biblionef provides a number of these schools with reading material in English. English is a compulsory subject in Sri Lanka and pupils can thus train themselves in this language and the teachers use the books as a support for their lessons. This time José van Gaalen handed over books to the Gallandala Junior School in Udugama and the St. Clare School in Colombo on behalf of Biblionef.
José also used the books and eventually left them there in one of the homes of the order of Mother Theresa, where she worked as a volunteer for a number of months. She read to the mentally handicapped children and they simply looked at the pictures, which they adored! Even though José did not speak their language and they did not understand English, with a colourful book language barriers disappear for these children. They understood very well what these stories were about. In autumn José will go again to Sri Lanka again and hopes once more to make many children and their teachers happy with new books.