English being the International Language of the world; plays a vital role in the Modern Community. With the advanced technology; communication has to be done in English, even to read a simple set of instructions. Even though most of the kids get their preliminary knowledge in English from school, that exposure is very diminished when it comes to the children at Child Development and Probation Centers; which is why the Rotaract Club of SLIIT took the initiative of lighting up their worlds by improving their English Language skills and soft skills. This project was chaired by our own Rtr. Dhanushika Ranawaka and Rtr. Duleesha Waidyarathne.
“Light up their world” was initially planned to be a two-day workshop which was successfully conducted on 13th and 20th January as phase one, with the participation of nearly 25 volunteers. The session started at 9 o’clock in the morning on each Saturday and was continued till 5 p.m. at Moravinna Balika Niwasaya, Panadura.
Day one was all about us interacting with each other, knowing their skills and understanding them. We all went there by the SLIIT bus early in the morning. The matron and the girls warmly welcomed us inside the premises and the kids were pleased to see us all because we were there to do something which is out of mainstream; to spend some time with them, not just to donate something and leave. There were 23 girls altogether in different ages from Grade one to O/Ls while two of them had stopped schooling. Within the first couple of minutes, we couldn’t even think of starting our schedules; we were just silently admiring each of those kids, their innocent smiles and laughters. We divided them into four groups according to their ages and we all introduced ourselves, shared the name tags and started with the very basic lesson “myself”. We were amazed seeing their interest to learn new things, especially in English. At the end, even the smallest could answer to the basic questions like “What’s your name?” and “How are you?”. After getting to know each other we moved on to a small activity where everyone had to make small groups based on the number announced. The fun part is that the leftovers had to do a few small activities like singing, dancing, tongue twisters and spelling bees. The little ones were so active so that the big ayyas and akkis had to do them more. Even our beloved District Community Service Director, Rtr. Nipun was caught more than twice! That session was indeed a showcase of talents of those kids where they all danced and sang songs with joy. Afterwards some basic vocabulary was taught separately for each group and a word hunt was given for them. After the lunch break we did a treasure hunt where everyone actively participated in finding the treasure which was so delicious. And oh! we celebrated Ashika’s birthday too!! who is the eldest of those kids. The day one was thus came to an end, but they didn’t let us leave until we promised them that we’ll be coming back on next week.
Day Two was all about teaching. Since we closely observed each and every kid from the previous session, we know the levels and the capacity of each of them. So, we divided them into 4 groups and started teaching the basics of English. They all had studied the dictation lists we gave them the last week and the little ones had practiced their poems too; which made us very happy because our efforts were not in vain. In the meantime, we didn’t forget to have small chit chats with them, about their interests and ambitions. Each of those, even the youngest among them had their own little dream. Other than teaching them English, our main objective was to teach them all the good manners, teaching them how to be polite, to care and most importantly to show love and affection which they all lacked the most. They all had their own personal favorite among us and most of them didn’t forget to share the most precious thing they had with them as souvenirs and some of them gave us small drawings done by them; and all those were precious moments one can’t even think of expressing them in words.
At the end of the day we had a small prize giving, where we appreciated them for their efforts. We gave them a small gift pack which included all the necessary stationary, toffees, chocolates, hair bands etc. and a doll as per their requests. It was indeed a day to furnish little hearts with smiles! “Light up their world” phase one was thus concluded.
As an endnote I would like to thank all the volunteers who did a great job out there coming all the way to Panadura sacrificing the weekend for these little ones. And especially for our District Community Service Director, Rtr. Nipun Sachintha for joining with us and for sharing your valuable ideas. And a big thank you goes out to all the donators who supported us in the financial aspect. Without the immense support of you all of this wouldn’t have been a success!
“All of us, if not most, like to engage and spend time with small kids, don’t we? Well, what if that time spent means a million times more to those kids than what we think its worth. Being a volunteer at the “Light up their world” community service project of RACSLIIT, I can assure you that what I’ve said above is literally true, to those kids whom we taught English through this project.
I, personally enjoyed spending time with the youngest bunch of kids, whilst all of us engaged in the project taking turns to teach children of different ages and grades. What’s more exiting is that these little ones have taken the pride of giving each of us a nick name based on how we appeared in their eyes in the first few days of the project and how quickly they’ve grown close to us as they’ve already found a personal favorite among us.
Most importantly, just like any other group of students, this set of little girls are also a mix of the smart ones, slow learners, easily distracted, hot tempered; you name it, they’re there. It was definitely challenging for us from creating learning material to setting the pace to accommodate the needs of everyone individually. Yet, seeing the lasses learn a single word more in each of our visits drove us to push their limits as much as possible.”
Volunteer at “Light up their world”
With all the positive feedback given by our volunteers, the enthusiasm of those kids to learn and by seeing them improved a lot within those two days; we decided to continue “Light up their world” for 3 months, as Phase Two. ♥♥☺
Written by –
Rtr. Duleesha Waidyarathne