News A wrap up of 2018 at the Carmel Home by Frances Tony and I spend 5 months in the year with the children. We give them English and maths tuition . We also try and ensure that the girls at the children’s home have a number of different activities to do. This is a brief summary of some of the things we do with the girls every year. Perahera Every March, in Colombo city, a spectacular parade of elephants, dancers, fire dancers and musicians lights up the night. It draws crowds of thousands of onlookers. This year, we decided to take a group of the older children to watch. Unfortunately, just after half an hour, the heavens opened and a deluge rain poured down on us with thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure! The performers waited patiently for the rain to stop, sheltering the elephants as best they could, but sadly the spectacle had to be postponed.We then took the girls for dinner and resolved to try again another year to see Perahera. Arts Festival Some of our children have a particular interest in art and are very good artists. So much so that we have an “Art Gallery” wall in our Home.In April, the College of Art in Colombo holds an open air Arts Festival. One Sunday afternoon we took a group of girls out for lunch and then to enjoy the exhibits at the Festival and to watch the artists at work.One child stood watching a portrait artist at work. She remarked to me later that she had noticed how the artist held his pencil differently when he was drawing the eyes!Many of the girls enjoyed the variety of different styles of paintings and sculptures which were on display. All in all, it was a very informative day and a good learning experience while having a lovely day out. Shoe shopping Our girls were so excited when we took a group of them to Bata shoe shop to look for a new pair of shoes. We had lots of fun trying on various styles and colours and the staff in the shop were really great. They were all involved helping to find the right sizes and colours desired. Even one of the girls, who is 14 years old and already has size 9 feet, did not go away disappointed! A trip to the seaside Our annual trip to the seaside took place in March this year.We began our trip at Koggala Airforce Base where we were able to board an old passenger plane. The children had never been on a plane before and examined the cockpit as well as trying out the chairs and walking up and down the aisle. We also watched some planes coming in to land just above our heads! After a cool drink and a piece of cake, we made our way to a Turtle Sanctuary where we were able to look at fully grown turtles, rescued turtles and turtle eggs which were buried under the sand waiting to hatch out. The children were amazed at the size of the fully grown turtles. It was then time for lunch so we headed to Milton’s Hotel where a buffet “rice and curry” was waiting for us. After lunch, the children enjoyed playing on the sand and in the water.By 4.30 pm we all headed back home, tired and happy. Picnic in the park In the centre of Colombo city, lies the huge, green, open space of Victoria Park.As the name suggests, this was created by the British during their years of occupation of Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was known in those days.We decided to have a day at the park with the children while another of the Trustees, Marianne and her husband Adam, were visiting us. We had great fun playing all sorts of games and exercise routines with the children. We then collected a picnic lunch from “Upali’s” restaurant and sat on the grass under the shade of the magnificent trees, to enjoy it. After lunch, some of the children began sketching some of the landmarks around us and others just enjoyed relaxing and drawing their own pictures. Some of their work now hangs on our “Art Gallery” wall. Another day when we all returned home tired and happy! Sports Day This years sports day took place in September, again while Marianne and Adam were with us. Unfortunately, we could not use all of the playground as it was being repaired, but that did not stop us! All the children took part and we had four teams. We were also joined by Maneesh, our nephew. We had a “lime and spoon” race, a relay race, a throwing competition, a batting competition. We all had a fun time and Medona, our scorer, deserves a special mention! This year Frances Aunty’s team came in 1st place, so miracles do happen!!! Looking forward to next year! Cricket Many of the girls are keen followers of cricket, so when the Asian Cup was being played in Colombo, we got tickets for the girls to watch India playing Bangladesh at the Premadasa Stadium. The girls entered fully into the occasion even enjoying the banter from other spectators around them. They were very pleased when India came out as the eventual winners of the tournament, although sad that Sri Lanka did not get through to the final. Every Sunday afternoon is “cricket” time at our Home. Most of the girls look forward to the game and join in enthusiastically. Obviously some are more talented than others but all are encouraged to try their best. Even Aunty Frances gets a bowl and a bat!! Our coach, Tony Uncle, is always on hand to show the correct technique to Nalika and those who are really keen to improve at the game. Lessons Tutoring in English, maths and computing are a really important addition to the learning experiences we are giving to the children. Thanks to the Virtusa company, computer lessons are given every Thursday. The children are given a lesson as a whole class and then they gather round and share one of our 10 laptops to gain hands on experience. It works very well and the children are very keen to learn this new skill. The schools they attend offer computer studies on the curriculum but unfortunately not all of the schools have computers, so it is vital that our children have this access. It also means that when they are given computer homework, this can be completed. Just the other day, some of the older girls were asked, as homework, to look at a particular video on YouTube. They were doing this under supervision when I went there. Tutoring in Maths and English has now been arranged for both Tamil and Singhalese children on a weekly basis and Tony Uncle and Frances Aunty supplement this when we are there. Athletics training Many of the girls are quite talented in Athletics and are champions in their age groups at school. However, we have noticed that there is not much actual training being given to teach them how to improve. Also, our girls tend to run in bare feet so have a distinct disadvantage. We have therefore purchased trainers and spikes for them to wear like the other children in their classes.Tony has now arranged to take the top athletes to Victoria Park every Saturday morning to give coaching in how to use the spikes and also in the various techniques used in running. The girls are really enjoying the experience. Afterwards, they go for a milkshake and talk about what they have learned. Other activities We had a visit from Karthi Uncle in September. Karthi is a retired FBI field agent. He was very keen to show the children some Yoga as he felt it would be good for them. They were all very keenly following him as he gave some lessons. Now, even though he has left, some of the older girls are still getting together in the mornings to practice the Yoga moves, with Samadhi leading! The girls always love the visits of Yomi Uncle and Soraya Aunty . Dancing is one of their many talents and when they were with us in August, they taught a dance routine which many of the girls enjoyed, especially the drama students. Even Frances Aunty joined them on stage at one point to learn the routine! Everyone had a laugh and lots of fun.