A walk down memory lane
Awakened by the exhilaration of my first project and “outing” both as a rotaractor and a fresher, the day was, to begin with, a bus ride at dawn. As I joined my fellow excited buddies at the bus stop, all we could talk about was how the day would unroll. And so began the journey, as the team for the day was completed with the additions along the way. What felt like a hundred “boomerangs” and many laughs shared, made the two-and-a-half-hour bus ride seem less than an hour. However, the last part of the journey from the Puwakpitiya junction to Illukovita Junior School was pin-drop silence as all of us were lost in the views while the old bus chugged up the winding roads through the scenic village.
Upon arrival at the school, we were greeted with the warmest smiles of the students guiding us to the Principal who, after a short introduction to our team invited us to what was an appetizing breakfast prepared by the parents of the students. Afterward, we were taken to the school hall where the Principal of the school introduced our project, its aims, and the team to the school assembly.
It was finally time for Akhankara day one to begin. Since it was the first meeting with the students, the day went by as we conducted get-to-know and introductory activities for both Grade 10s and 11s in two batches under the guidance of our seniors with an intention of identifying the capacities of all the students in order to adjust our approach to them. It was a great way to break the ice as the students enjoyed and bonded with all of us.
Lunch was yet another taste bud pleasing generous serving of an ‘ideal meal in the village’ by the smiling parents. As per the request of many of the boys during the morning sessions, next up was a 35-degree cricket match which left a few of our team members short of breath; all of which was captured as it happened by our (very efficient) PR coordinator.
The day drew to a close as the final sessions were a written test of the students’ knowledge of History; one of the four focus subjects at Akhankara. Adding to my list of never forgettable memories was tea where we were served Ginger plain tea (much to the amusement of our team as it might have been my first in a very long time), cakes, and even fresh watermelons!
The proceedings ended with a speech by our seniors and most importantly warm goodbyes from the students which I could say was the most satisfying part of the day as seeing the joy and gratitude in the eyes of the girls and boys was a feeling beyond words. It made me see the true depth of the impact, an act of kindness can make on someone’s life.
The excitement escalated when our Vice Presidents informed us that a surprise awaited us at the school gate. It was a truck ride from the school to the bus stop! Another hundred selfies clicked, a round of ‘baila’ sung, and laughs shared as I enjoyed every second of my first ever truck ride.
As the sun slowly set over the fields, it was time to say goodbye and head back home. With stories to tell, friendships made, pictures to cherish and a heart full of memories, Akhankara thus marked the beginning of my Rotaract journey.
By Rtr. Tharini Cabraal