In January, Rose Charities Sri Lanka conducted the first of two Health and Nutrition Programs planned for this year. This program involved over 150 children and 100 parents from Rose Mother and Baby Groups and Preschools in Porathivupattu Division, making it one of the single largest and most ambitious ECCD events that Rose has ever staged. The Office of the Divisional Secretary of Porathivupattu hosted the event and it proved to be the perfect setting for the course of cultural events and festivities which lasted all day and well into the evening.
The day’s entertainment was designed to teach the children basic lessons about proper nutrition. It is customary in Sri Lanka for guests at formal functions to be welcomed by their hosts with a garland of flowers and early in life children become adept at producing garlands and presenting them to adults. At the Health and Nutrition Program, however, this custom was reversed and each child had a garland of flowers placed around his or her neck as part of the celebration. The main event was a large ‘dinner party’ for the assembled children in which they served themselves and ate entirely without assistance. This ability is a good indicator of the development of fine motor skills and, given that many of those present were under the age of three, the results were surprisingly good.
There was also a Rose-sponsored book exhibition for the preschoolers and books specially-designed for children aged 4 and 5 were distributed free of charge to very attendee. Rose charities also includes small lending libraries within every village Children’s Club and it is hoped that these measures will encourage an enduring love of reading in a population for whom books are difficult to obtain.
After sundown, the children were treated to a fireworks display sponsored by Rose Charities. Most of these children had never seen fireworks before and gazed up in wonder as multi-coloured explosions illuminated the night sky. It was a lovely spectacle and a fitting end to a long and festive day.