Avinya Foundation

#24 Orientation week, giving thanks, BINGO and hope

Lots of things to celebrate this week! We are celebrating 24 weeks of Avinya’s blog being up, a moving multi-religious ceremony to commemorate the soft opening of our beautiful new campus facility and meeting and connecting with some wonderful new people in our new home in Bandaragama.

We are celebrating one more thing: the start of our orientation week with our students!


Instead of a quote, let me start with a story this week.

It’s dawn. You practically bounce out of bed. You’ve got to make sure you can tumble out the house after ticking off everything that needs to happen to make sure your family’s going to be able to tumble out and get on with their day too. You hop in a tuk and race against time to the transport pick up point. You feel the cool breeze on your face. The morning dew on the breeze that surrounds you ironically makes you feel all warm inside. You see the sun’s rays slowly awakening. Rays of hope for the day that begins!

You see the Avinya van with an Avinya Academy board and your heart skips a beat. It’s real!

You tumble into the van and greet the lovely van driver whose smile matches yours and you can see he is almost as excited as you.

Your colleagues arrive and we all share a grin of excitement and off we go. As we turn the corner which heads down the road to our Academy we all take in a deep breath. There they are!

Sessions don’t begin for another hour but here are some of the early birds clad in smart Avinya uniforms waiting for the shuttle that takes them to our Academy.

Isuru, our Educator who we believe has the amazing skill of making trees blush, pops his head out the window and gathers them all into our van. Parents hang back assuming they’ll need to make the walk or wait for the next shuttle. We gesture for everyone to hop on!

It’s our first week and we specifically invited parents this week so that we can show and talk to them about all that’s Avinya! We totally understand and acknowledge that parents are so important in ensuring that education in whatever shape or form is successfully entrenched in a student’s life.

We hover at the top wondering if there are any more early birds to pick up and one of our parents spots one and runs off even before we could to get them. Clearly the excitement is all round!

We all tumble out of the van and here we are! It’s time for orientation week! It’s begun!!

Dilani one of our Educators put it so well –

“It was a wonderful moment when I saw OUR students walking in, smartly dressed in the Avinya uniform. It really was happening and THAT “sense of responsibility” (that ONLY a teacher feels!! ) set itself on my shoulders revving me up for the months ahead!”

If you’ve been in education you know that they will always be – our children, our responsibility, our promise and our lives to change over the next 2.5 years.

That was a snippet of how orientation week began. A monumental week to say the very least.

Looking back, everything went off perfectly, smoothly. After months of planning absolutely nothing went wrong.

I jest of course.

When does anything go off perfectly?

We had to navigate many hurdles, some foreseen some unforeseen but again we had a wonderful team who ran over to any lane, grabbed the baton and finished the race!

As Dilani put it so aptly –

“Many moments this week where I felt an overwhelming sense of pride to be part of Avinya. Feels awesome to be working with a set of colleagues who are like-minded, intelligent, super- fun and absolutely loveable – all working tirelessly together,  with a common goal in mind!

All in all we worked full force as a team to make the entire learning experience for our students and familiarization sessions for the parents go well.

I think one of the main highlights was the tours we took all the students and parents on to view the facilities of the new campus, share our story and tell them about the unique concept behind each part of the campus. My personal favorite was the look of sheer happiness on their faces when the tours would end and we’d gesture to the place and say – ‘This is your school. Our school!’

Another thing both Dilani and Dee shared was the resounding sound of thanks from parents.  “Thank you”, “Hari Santhosai”, “Lamayinge pina”, “Meme avastawa laba dunnate Godak pin” and ““Methana hama dema denawa. Nayakathwaya, hama dema ekamuthuwa yanne” were some lovely expressions and phrases we heard a lot this week. The appreciation and hope that so many parents expressed touched everyone and as Dee said it is certainly a leap of faith on all sides!

I can’t end this blog on such a momentous week without focusing on thanks. There are many people to thank. So many. People who believed in everything before there was nothing to see. We are so grateful to all of you!

Coming this far I guess it’s important to acknowledge that none of this would’ve happened if not for one man’s dream to get it all going. He dreamt it, envisioned it and then went one step further and empowered it!

Sanjiva is his name -o. Sorry I couldn’t help that joke. But on a serious note, we are very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of his vision and make a lasting impact on these kids’ lives. He does not let us bring this up often but we have to say it!

As construction on our amazing, unique and empowering campus space nears conclusion, there are so many to thank who have made this dream come alive. Sarvodaya team for the unparalleled location and general support overall, Dan and his awesome team for the design concept and project management, Nirosha and his tireless team of construction supervisors and workers, Suraj and team for supplying the iconic roof as well as each supplier from the ceramics, cupboards, fittings, furniture, for the unique designs and keeping in theme with the futuristic concept.

A big thank you to Ashroff Omar and the Phoenix team for the generous donation of chairs for the Academy which we have put to very good use already in this first week. Thank you to Dr. Tara, Mrs. Fernando for their invaluable insight and feedback on our Empower programme which gets into full gear next week.

Of course thank you to the entire Avinya team for the efforts made in every aspect. We now have grown as an Avinya family. We have an incredible support team of security, janitorial and nursing.  Each person chosen based on one thing, do you share our vision?

At the beginning of this week we started off with a soft opening of our beautiful premises with a multi-religious ceremony, boiling of milk, lighting of the traditional lamp followed by a lovely mingling over milk rice, fish curry and lots of kavum, kokis, butter cake and bananas.

It was a great start to this eventful week and a perfect start making our hearts brim and spill over with thanks.

Towards the end of this week, as we sat around the table I asked the team how they’d sum up the week and they threw out an interesting set of feeling adjectives! ‘Nervous, excited, thrilled, hopeful and finally exhausted!’

It’s been an interesting shock to the system for sure to leave the ‘convenience’ of Colombo and head down to Bandaragama each day. Lots more physical activity and running around as we navigate each interesting scenario. End of the day though, the look on our students’ faces and the hope and light we see now in their eyes makes everything background. The stage is set, we are but stage helpers, they are the stars and the stage is now theirs!

Thank you to you all who made this dream a reality! The impossible, possible. It isn’t the end, it is only the beginning of our latest chapter in the Avinya Chronicles 🙂

It’s not been an easy road. But a road that needed to be journeyed on.

I’ll end with one of my all time favorite quotes as we forge ahead!

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

– Anju