Date : April 2017

A team of corporate volunteers from Rockwell Automation Singapore, served at our Center of Hope in Mattakkuliya from 24 to 27 April 2017. This team came through our longstanding friends, TOUCH International, Singapore. Rockwell Automation is a 5 billion dollar world leader of automation controls and has been serving the community through TOUCH Community Services (affiliated to TOUCH International) for the past 10 years in Singapore.

The volunteer team that served in Sri Lanka comprised of ten Rockwell Automation directors and managers. Applying their respective specialized training, the team developed and executed a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program to interest and stimulate the children at COH. Besides this, they also contributed both physically and financially towards the refurbishment and development of the center through sponsorship for refurbishment works, as well as being physically involved in painting and repairing the center. Each morning, part of the team worked hard to clean and paint the boundary walls of the center, and clear the rubble in the playground. Other volunteers spent time helping out with the activities carried out at our pre-school, Singithi Nivasa, while still others helped our cook Sujatha to cook a delicious and nutritious meal for the children enrolled in our feeding program. In the afternoons, the volunteers assisted our staff with the daily feeding program. They not only helped serve food for each child, they also attentively waited on the children, and refilled their plates, as needed. On one occasion the volunteers introduced a new food item (grilled vegetables) to the children’s lunch. After the daily feeding program, the volunteers took turns to work on repairs in the center, and get to know the children by playing with them in the playground. Our children thoroughly enjoyed their time playing with the volunteers and asking them questions about Singapore. They also enjoyed having their polaroid pictures taken.

It was wonderful to see the children’s faces light up at the site of their images appearing on paper, while they watched! They were delighted to be given these pictures to take home with them. Every day, after play time, the volunteers conducted STEM programs for the children. These programs afforded the children with opportunities to expand their knowledge, learn new skills, and develop values, such as team work and creativity. One of the activities the younger children enjoyed was having to get together and build a tower from raw spaghetti sticks. Another activity was playing dominos – a first time experience for most. One of the volunteers later informed us that they were extremely impressed by two of the children who had played dominos, who refused to accept a prize at the end of the game, on the basis that they felt they had not completed the game correctly, and therefore did not merit the reward. We were humbled by the grace and integrity of our children. The grand finale – and the highlight of the entire program for our children – was the ‘Food Jam’ organized by the volunteers on their last day. This activity involved the preparation of delightful treats and sandwiches by the children themselves, for a big party – complete with balloons and loot bags – that was to take place in the large hall upstairs. The children thoroughly enjoyed learning how to create and decorate unusual food items together, and had the added joy of being able to consume these items at the party!

We deeply appreciate the investment made in our children, and are grateful to the volunteers and to TOUCH International for the time and effort taken, to bring hope and joy into the lives of our children.