'The Journey of a hundred friends,' saw more than a hundred girl guides of the Sri Lanka Girl Guide Association (SLGGA) travel from Hambantota to Jaffna by train and then bus in celebration of 100 years of World Guiding. The Guides and Senior Guides who took part in the event were from a mix of races and religions and from all parts of the country.
While the event helped build and cement bonds of friendship between the Guides, it also provided these ‘Friends’ with the opportunity to assist the Disaster Management Committee of the SLGGA set up a fully equipped library for the J/Ampan American Mission Tamil Mixed School at Kudaththana, which was not rebuilt after the tsunami of 2004.
Last month almost 150 Guides left for Jaffna from Hambantota via Galle and Colombo by train and completed the latter part of the journey along the A9 by bus. On arriving at the Harriet Winslow Girls’ Home, Panditerruppu, which was to be the “base camp”, the girls were greeted by a typical Tamil welcome, with garlands of flowers and red tilakas on the foreheads.
The Guides divided themselves into teams, one team was assigned to paint murals on the school walls with the theme- girls worldwide say “Friendship Leads to Peace and Development”. The second team tidied classrooms, while the third team planted crotons. A fourth team set to work on the 14th Nana Piyasa Library; sorting books. The SLGGA reported that “it was very hard work, but with the support of the girls and boys of the school, the work was completed by evening.” Transport to the school was provided by the Sri Lankan Army.
The library was ceremonially opened by Addl. Provincial Director of Education and the Chief Commissioner in the presence of the principal, staff, school children and their parents, as well as the Guides and village dignitaries.
During the ceremony the Addl. Provincial Director of Education thanked the Association for its gesture and according to the SLGGA, the Chief Commissioner said that the best way to maintain the links between the school and the sponsors of the Library would be to start a Guide Company in the School; the Principal readily agreed to release a staff member to be trained as an adult leader.
The Guides spent the rest of the day visiting temples and kovils, and were invited for lunch by the Nagapooshan Amman Hindu Kovil authorities. “When they boarded Train No. 4085 from Vavuniya at 3.30 a.m. for home, it was not the end of the Journey – it was a beginning”, claimed the SLGGA. “The friendships that were formed and the memories of time spent with girls of different religions and cultures will no doubt have a lasting effect on them.”