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In a fitting response to the sad plight of hundreds of families affected by drought in various parts of the country, the students of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitya which is one of the leading Catholic institutions in Colombo donated nearly 850 bottles of drinking water this week for distribution through the Caritas network. The students had also collected a stock of used clothes to be given to a group of war affected and displaced families still living under makeshift arrangements in the Eastern Province.
Accepting the gifts from the children at a lively assembly convened by the Principal, Rev Sr Chandani Jayasuriya, the National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka, Rev Fr George Sigamoney expressed his deep appreciation of the wonderful gesture by the students of this school. “You have shown your genuine care and concern for those who are undergoing immense suffering in our own country”, he told them. “ We are taking care of these people who are our own brothers and sisters, and we are doing this in the name of Jesus. With your acts of love, you have today become part of this mission. You all are setting an example for others to follow and emulate. Apart from the North and East, there are many who are facing severe hardships even in the North Central and Southern Provinces. While we show our solidarity with them, we must also think of little things like how much water is being wasted in other parts of the country while some are struggling to find water even for their basic needs”.
Fr Sigamoney had a special word of thanks for Sr Chandani who, he said, had always responded positively whenever Caritas made a request for assistance. “This time around, she herself contacted me with an offer to help, and that is really admirable”, he said.
In her remarks to the assembly, Sr Chandani explained that the recent Confirmation Service held in the school on 5th September had been used as a point of entry to conscientize the children and their parents about the need to help the needy and affected families. As a result, the Offertory Procession in the Confirmation Service witnessed a generous contribution by all towards the purchase of drinking water bottles. The slogan used by the school was “Quench the thirst of a family – give One Hundred Rupees for a bottle of drinking water”, Sr Chandani explained. “ Their response was not simply a monetary contribution only. It was also an outpouring of love towards their unfortunate brothers and sisters living elsewhere. The children really stretched their hand of friendship across all borders –geographical, ethnic and religious – and they still continue to make small group collections towards this cause. They plan to procure 500 more bottles of water and also collect some used clothes”.
Shalini Anthony, a Grade 10 student who had been the prime mover of the idea, said that the children in Grades 10 and 11 had initiated the collection process within the school once her suggestion was accepted. “I got this idea when I was watching TV one day. I saw how one of the TV channels was appealing to the public to donate bottles of water which they were planning to transport to the drought affected areas. That inspired me and I thought why not we do this by ourselves also?”, Shalini said with a beaming smile and with a deep sense of satisfaction.
“Caritas salutes your efforts”, Fr Sigamoney told the students in conclusion. “Keep up the good work. I invite you all to contact us whenever you come up with such initiatives. We would like to work with young people like you who can demonstrate such civic consciousness even in the midst of your studies and other activities. The encouragement given by our Principal is also immense”, he said.