Avinya Foundation

#14 The Path to Building Trust

The Path to Building Trust

Let me start this week’s blog with a story. 

It’s been sometime since I’ve been in the classroom, but I distinctly remember the students I have taught and have accumulated my own treasure trove of memories. I think these hold a special place in every teacher’s heart. 

Let me tell you briefly about one of these stories.

I was teaching a group of young learners. Their ages ranged from 9 to 12 years old. It was a class I’d had for over a term and I knew most of the kids. I walked into the classroom on the first day and greeted everyone and then I noticed one of the kids under the table. 

She was new. 

The other kids were all looking bewildered. 

In my head, I told myself (yes teachers talk to themselves all the time!) to not highlight this, so we got onto our first task. While the other kids were busy with that, I crouched down and invited the new kid to join one of the groups. It took awhile but I managed to convince her eventually. We didn’t speak the same first language so this added to our communication challenges but I think I managed to get a few key things across. Over the next few weeks, I realized that she was a kid who would need some unconventional teaching support. She pushed all the boundaries. She didn’t conform to a lot of the routine behaviors we usually have from our kids. She would open up her snack and eat mid activity. She’d get up and walk to the back of a class while we were on task. She would very rarely contribute to group or individual work. She actually completely ignored anyone who spoke to her. It was as if no one else existed. It was an interesting challenge! 

I tried out a few techniques but made it a point not to let this behavior define this child because somehow I felt something needed to click for real learning to happen. 

I met the parents a few weeks later. Her older sister acted as translator as the mum and I didn’t share a language in common. I always invite the child to all parent-teacher meetings because I think it’s important that they are a part of the process. The body language was very telling as the mum looked as if she wanted to bolt before I unleashed my tirade of complaints.
Instead, I focused on the positives and acknowledged how challenging it is to start at this stage and I highlighted the potential I see in her daughter. Both mum and sister looked at me stunned and from the corner of my eye I could see my student stare at me open mouthed.

It’s after this defining moment that things changed. 

It’s an experience I’ve carried with me ever since. Believe it or not my student completely changed. She finished the year at the top of the class. She completely came out of her shell and became one of the most active and engaged students in the class!

It took me sometime to understand what shifted and what made her have this 180 degree turn. 

Simply, it was trust.

She pushed my boundaries to see if I was worthy. 

Luckily, I passed the test.

Why did I decide to start with this somewhat long winded story this week and what does it have to do with where we are at Avinya?

The simple answer is we are at the stage of building trust. Trust in who we are. Trust in our purpose and how unique we are. Trust amidst a lot of chaos and uncertainty.

It’s a process, but once you get to the point where you have built that trust and made your mark, that feeling is immeasurable.

Why have I got all philosophical this week? Well, we’ve had a lot on and when things get tough, I go into reflection mode 🙂

Here are the highlights from a very interesting week!


We are still on the path of building trust, spreading the word and slowly simmering our way to our Recipe for 120. Lakshman has been tirelessly sharing our unique concept with many stakeholders and we’ve looked at creative and innovative ways to help students and parents understand this alternative education pathway that we are offering to them post O levels. As with anything new, it has come with a lot of interesting hurdles to navigate to ensure we deliver on our promise to give opportunities to those who do not have them and give a fair chance to talent that would have otherwise been lost along the way.

We’ve had many offers of support which we are very appreciative of and if you know any post O Level students who are close to our Avinya Academy Bandaragama, situated near the Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning (SIHL), please do pass on our admission information: https://avinyafoundation.org/avinya-academy/admissions/

The Educator team plans to be down in Bandaragama (SIHL), next Tuesday 29th November from 10am to 1pm and would be happy to answer any questions face to face.


We are full steam ahead on our academic management systems now and Samisa and Rukmal are leading the growing team. A very warm welcome to Zaeema who joined the team this week. Data models, data analysis and sandbox seem to be key words for the week.

The Team

We’ve had some great bonding time with our whole team face to face for most of this week and there’s been a lot of work and fun as well as budding Masterchefs producing exquisite caramel slices and mouth watering fruit cakes.

Empower Curriculum

We’ve been plowing our way through our customized program. This week was a real highlight as Dee and our amazing Educator team shared the work done so far on the framework and the initial content. It’s one unique and ever so relevant program and we cannot wait to have our first group of students experience this customized learning experience. Sanjiva led a great discussion on this with the entire Avinya team and we had the privilege of meeting Dr. Tara de Mel during this discussion which was a real highlight of the week 🙂

We firmly believe that this program will really change lives! 


There’s a lot to do here and we’ve been very busy looking into the logistics of getting the first Academy in Bandaragama operational. As usual as we reach for the stars, we need this operational not just from a regular Academy perspective but from the Avinya perspective too. Nihara’s been working her way through our student meal plan and we will share it with our discussion community shortly for their thoughts. If you haven’t joined our discussion group, you can do so with this link: 

Join the discussion group!

It’s not just about the food, we want the food to be nutritious, well balanced and practical. Apart from food, we have been thinking through uniforms, welcome packs, procurement and general logistics, so definitely a lot to keep us occupied. 

It’s almost the end of November and the only thing keeping me away from a panic attack is the support of our great team and our wonderful Avinya community. The support, cheers and general positive vibes keep us moving along in quest of our purpose. Passion and excitement drive us forward as we embark on this journey of building trust to give our students…unadulterated hope!

  • Anju