Funday Times

A special Girl Guides camp
By Amreen Ameen and Nabeela Hussain, Pix by Saman Kariyawasam

Walking into Ladies College, we were welcomed by the sight of adorable children, feeding each other
ice-cream. It soon dawned on us that we had entered a camp organized for the differently-able. "Friendship has no barrier," was the theme for the camp organized for these children. The organization of such events for the differently-able has been taking place since 1924, by the Girl Guides branch for the

This camp consisted of children from different institutions namely Chitra Lane School for Special Children, Dayamina, Methmihira, School for Hearing Impaired and School for Visually Impaired from Ratmalana.

The Girl Guides organize these camps once every two years while fund raisers are held in between, to reunite the differently-able. The camp held this year had 85 children and was for two nights and three days at Ladies College, where games and a camp fire were organized for them.

The aim of such gatherings is to make them feel they too play an important role in society and to increase the interactions between the differently-able from various institutions.

Director for the differently-able branch of Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association, Marlyn Dissanayake said " society doesn't understand and people don't realize the value of these children." She said they are neglected and unloved by normal people, who corner them because of their disabilities.

The children were divided into groups where each group was given a continent. Marlyn said that the
children had to make their own badges with the help of the teachers. They also had a bridal show in the morning where the children had dressed their friends, and the best bride was chosen. 'Smoke Printing' exercise which followed had beautiful results which were put up on the notice board for everyone to see", she said.

She also said that these children enjoyed the camp a lot and they had moved around with everyone
irrespective of the different institutions they come from. The dancing teacher of Chithra Lane School, Chamilka Lasomali said, "It is good for children to come to camps like these because they are indoors most of the time so it is good for them to go out."

The former director of the differently-able branch of Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association, Nirmali William said these children were more disciplined than normal children. She said "they love being here and hate
sympathy." She also said these children await such events as their institutions cannot afford to organize them.

The Girl Guides are organizing an international get-together in 2011, aimed at giving these children a better place in society. Marlyn said organizing such camps was very expensive but they didn't feel the burden with the support of generous donors and a tremendous number of volunteers.

"Companies gave away their goods at rock bottom prices and people do come, on and off to give away their stuff" she said. She also added that they were very grateful for the support and assistance given by the prefects and staff of Ladies College.

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