In 2001, I started to take school items with me from Holland to Sri Lanka. This was difficult as I could only take 20 kg with me. Some people gave me clothes and toys, which made me happy, but how would I take it to Sri Lanka? I tried if people or airlines could take it with them, but again this was very difficult.
My father said it might be a good idea to send a 20-foot container. I wasn’t sure. Where would I get so many clothes and educational materials from, to fill around 400 boxes? I told my father this was not possible. But then something happened which changed everything. At boxing day, we heard about the devastating Tsunami. In less then 3 months we had not a 20-foot but 40-foot container full of 700 boxes, beds, tables etc.
But where could we store this boxes?
Ravi Perera came to the rescue. He owned a biscuit factory and the upper part of this factory was empty. It was a lot of work to get the 700 boxes to this factory. It took us 3 years to divide all the boxes between all the villages, schools and homes.
This had to change. I went back to taking a few boxes with me with the help of some companies which would take the boxes with them. At that time, I did not have to pay for the boxes or bags. Over the last 5 years around 300 boxes arrived in Sri Lanka.
But where to store those boxes now?
Every year there would be around 120 boxes and because of bombings etc. more boxes came to Sri Lanka than I could divide in one year. Over a period of 5 years the boxes were stalled at Tennekumbura with the family Wickramasuriya. We as Srilankan Hope for Children were very happy about this. The family had one room filled with all the boxes. I used their home also for dividing all the items. Last year we had to change because the family wanted their room back, which of course we totally understood.
So where to go now?
It is not easy to find a big and safe enough place. Thank God for Nishantha and Ramani. They agreed to put the boxes up in their house and hotel. At this moment there are around 140 boxes at Nishantha’s place and 20 boxes at a guesthouse which Ramani runs. Nishanta picked up the boxes from Tennekumbura . Heavy work.
And where do I keep the boxes in Holland?
In my garage!