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I am happy to greet you and would like to welcome you to Plan Sri Lanka on behalf of your new sponsored child, Dilini Nadesha M.m. My name is Kumarasinghe and I work as a community volunteer in Dombagahawela, where Dilini and her family have lived for as long as they can remember. Together with other community volunteers I help with communications between sponsors and the families in Dilini's community. I recently visited the family and talked with Gnanawathie, Dilini's mother. Now I would like to introduce all the family members to you.

Introducing Dilini

First of all, let us talk about Dilini. She is a friendly girl whose favourite activities include collecting stamps, riding a bicycle and collecting stickers. Her mother tells me that Dilini always says when she is older she would like to be a labourer. In this part of the world children grow up fast and they must play a part in the family progress and survival. Although they still have time to play they must also help with the daily chores. Dilini helps with small errands.

Dilini is now in the sixth grade of the secondary school. Her mother says that her performance in school is average. Lots of encouragement continues to help. The day starts early for Dilini as she heads for school. She travels by foot and it takes her less than 30 minutes. Every day Dilini meets her friends Chandrani and Iresha and like children everywhere they chatter about all kinds of different things so the day passes quickly. Dilini is glad to reach school and to start the day with her friends. She always looks forward to the mathematics, local language and sport lessons that are her favourite subjects.

Dilini is not able to write to you herself yet, however her mother Gnanawathie is eager to write to you on her behalf. Although children in this community are very shy about writing to someone in a different country we will encourage them to communicate with you in their own special way, perhaps through a small drawing. It is also very exciting for them to receive a letter or a photograph from a friend abroad and so I hope you will be able to find the time to send Dilini and her family a message occasionally. I have seen the wide smiles which this can bring to a child's face!

Introducing Dilini's family

There are 5 family members living together with Dilini. I would like to introduce them to you.

Gnanawathie (45) who is Dilini's mother. At the moment she is working as a peasant farmer.
Gunpala (47) who is Dilini's father. At the moment he is working as a driver.
Kokila (19) who is Dilini's brother.
Amila (17) who is Dilini's brother.
Dammi (15) who is Dilini's sister.

At home the family speaks together in their local language Singhalese.

Dilini and her family's health

Gnanawathie told me that Dilini has been in good health during the past 6 months. This means that she was one of the fortunate ones as still many children suffer from diseases which could be prevented. If Dilini or any of her family are sick they can go to the hospital, a journey of about 45 minutes.

Where Dilini and his family live

Dilini's family live in a small house made of cement with a tile and slate roof. The house is owned by the family with a legal title. Whilst showing me their home, Gnanawathie told me that the house is in a good condition. Dilini's family does not have their own latrine and have to use a community latrine for their needs. This creates a lower level of hygene and increases the incidence of disease particularly amongst the children.

In many areas of PLAN's work a lack of access to clean safe drinking water all year round is a real problem and can cause an increase in common water borne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. Throughout the year Dilini's family get their water from an open well that is in the house backyard. There is sufficient water during both rainy and dry seasons. The family does not treat their drinking water because it is safe to drink. This means that the drinking water is good, clean water.

Dilini's family use an open fire to cook their daily meals and their main fuel is wood. Collecting firewood is usually the work of women and children and a very time consuming task. For lighting the house the family uses pressure lamps. Dilini's family, like their friends and neighbours, have a very small income and it is a struggle to be able to meet their basic needs. However the families in the Dombagahawela community have a rich social life. During their spare time, Dilini's family loves talking with friends, playing sports and watching TV. In thise region, you will find many people watch TV during the evening. Dombagahawela has a communal TV where Dilini and her family can pay to watch their favourite programmes, like a cinema. It is one of their great pleasures in their hard life.

My message to you

I hope you have enjoyed reading about Dilini and her family. The following pages will give you more information about their community and the way of life there. Hopefully this will give you a better idea of the problems they face, their expectations and their positive attitude. Life is not easy and the economic situation can make it even harder. However PLAN will be working with Dilini's family and all families within Dombagahawela to identify their basic needs which may be health, education, housing or income. Each individual will play a role and contribute what they can in terms of manual labour, local materials, technical expertise or financial contributions to ensure a brighter future for Dilini and other children like her.

We hope that your friendship with Dilini will be an unforgettable experience and that it will give you the opportunity to learn more about another culture far away. Your contributions will allow our team here to create opportunities for the family and their village community to help them solve some of their serious problems. Next year you will receive an Annual Progress Report and we will then be able to show you some of the first proud achievements which Dilini's family have made. Until then, thank you for giving Dilini a chance!

Kumarasinghe R.D.
Community Volunteer

This page last updated: 19 July 2004

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