Date : July 2017

The Center of Hope had a team of nine volunteers from TOUCH Young Arrows (“TYA”) visit and serve at the Center of Hope in Kaiveli, from 12 to 14 July 2017. TYA is one of the many services which come under the umbrella of TOUCH Community Services, Singapore. The team served 200 children between the ages of 6 and 16 years from the villages of Thimbili, Kaiveli, and Pudukuduirippu, by conducting a program designed to impart character lessons to affirm the identity of the children. This was on the basis that every child should be secure in the knowledge that they are ‘great,’ they
are ‘loved’ and they are a ‘star.’

Since character is not so much taught as it is caught, the TYA team decided that, instead of taking a classroom teaching approach, its focus should be on team-building and structured activities, with a view to facilitating experiential learning – a concept which is unusual, especially in rural Sri Lanka. Accordingly, the activities were designed to encourage the children to ask questions and to think freely for themselves. At the end of each activity, members of the TYA volunteer team carefully reinforced the values that were ‘caught’ by the children.

The first day’s activities were focussed on the theme of greatness. As such, the activities conducted that day were designed to help the children learn that greatness is a result of work done together in harmony. On the second day, the activities were focused on bringing home to each child, the profound truth that they were loved. One activity, called ‘Egg Drop’ was particularly effective in this regard. The children were divided into groups and each group was given an egg and a limited set of material to protect it with. Later the children were told that the egg represented each of them and that even though the egg was fragile on its own, it was surrounded by protective material, just as each child – though vulnerable on his or her own – was surrounded by a loving and protective community at the Center of Hope. The last day’s activities were focused on helping the children learn that they, like stars, were special and that each one was destined to shine in his or her own way. Pastor Lawrence, from Faith Community Baptist Church, Singapore, helped the children understand that they truly were great and loved, and that they were stars that were made to shine. He demonstrated this message with a simple yet engaging magic trick.

While this served to reaffirm the values instilled in the children over the previous three days, Pastor Lawrence went one step further, by gifting each child with a handmade badge, made by children very much like them, who are served by TYA in Singapore. Each badge had one word on it – ‘Great,’ ‘Loved,’ or ‘Star.’ This was a meaningful and memorable gift to the children. As the TYA team pinned the badges on the children’s shirts, they blessed each child with the promise of who they were: great, loved, shining stars. The program concluded with the children creating a thank-you note, using colorful paper, for the children in Singapore who sent them their badges.