Avinya Foundation

#52 Toto, we’re home..well, almost!

Sinalie, our vibrant and enthusiastic live wire, has been diligently working behind the scenes this week to curate a blog that perfectly captures the essence of celebrating 52 weeks of blogging. While not everyone’s voice is represented in the quotes, as some have embarked on different journeys and are crafting their own stories, we’ve managed to compile the gist of feeling that encompasses special moments across the year.

Before you delve into that,  allow me a moment of nostalgia (well, mostly because Sinalie threatened to banish me from her office if I didn’t). Rewinding 52 weeks, when Sanjiva first proposed the idea of weekly blogs, I was like, “Sure, we can do this.”  But, it hasn’t always been easy to meet our own internal weekly deadlines. There’s always something happening. But you know what keeps us going? It’s you, our readers. Just when the going gets tough, a kind word from someone who’s read the blog lifts spirits and fuels the drive to continue.

As we stroll down memory lane, it’s important to acknowledge and thank an essential part of this journey—our families and close friends. Throughout this year-long adventure, they’ve been the wind beneath our wings, our constant cheerleaders, keeping us afloat. They truly are the unsung heroes of Avinya.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” — Robert Breault

A question I’ve been asked over the last two weeks as we’ve headed for this milestone is ‘do you regret it?’

It’s made me reflect…do I?

Certainly, this journey has been anything but ordinary, filled with its fair share of challenges.

The question finds its answer in a memory and a moment – I bumped into a student after graduation who had come to collect his leaving certificate. As he was hanging around my…who am I kidding…Sinalie’s office, I chatted to him for  a bit as we watched Isuru and Anuki run a very engaging team building activity in the garden for our new batch of students as part of their orientation workshop. His words and his facial expression really touched my heart, “Miss, it is so boring at home, while I wait to start my job placement. They are so lucky. This is the best place to study.”

In the midst of challenges and some small victories, these moments of affirmation remind me why we embarked on this journey.

It’s about shaping lives, fostering growth, and creating an environment where students are not just educated but inspired.

Thank you for being a part of our story. Here’s to the next chapter, the next week, and the countless words yet to be woven into this story…

– Anju

Dear readers,

Hello again and guess what? Welcome to one whole year with the Avinya Scoop (Cue crazy dance move choreographed by Anju)! Gosh, I absolutely cannot believe it has been 52 weeks since the official Avinya liftoff, even longer since the cogs were put in motion for this wondrous journey and a little over a 6 months since our first batch of Empower Program students have flown off into their futures. In a toast to all these momentous occasions, we’ve all decided to reminisce and reflect on all the nostalgic moments of the Avinya chronicles.

I think we all collectively agree that our journey at Avinya has been akin to that of Dorothy’s through the Land of Oz or Alice’s through her Wonderland. Curiouser and curiouser. I remember the first few weeks clearly, when we jumped into the rabbit hole with everything we got. The time when our building was only some lines on a paper, the time when our fleshed out projects were ideas churning only inside our heads, the time when the Empower program in fact did not have a name at all! It was so insurmountable at times, these ideas, dreams and ambitions compared to the grand total of 19 of us that were involved in the project at the time.

Nevertheless, here we are, one year later with more than one grand win under our belt. For me it really struck me during the month of April, during Project Showcase with the students. I remember at one point standing to the side and simply observing the entire school. Everywhere I looked I saw our students trying their utmost to confidently express themselves and show off their final products to parents, educators and other well-wishers alike. Our students, most who didn’t even make eye contact during interviews. It was the moment that spoke to me and let me know that we were already halfway there, where we wanted to be with our ideas in August last year. I may have shed a tear or too but it was sunny enough to blame it on the glare 😉

But! This is only one of the many memories from our Avinya chronicles. There were some that were profound, some that were sad and some that were downright funny. I would like to take my writer hat off for a moment and let the other members of the team share their most memorable experiences during their time at Avinya as well!

The love I experienced on the graduation day of our kids.. It was such an emotional day. I genuinely felt how much they loved us and how much they loved Avinya. – Isuru

We were supposed to contribute ONE moment! My absolute favourite moment is one that keeps recurring with the “difficult” students. Whatever the reason, when you give the student an opportunity to explain their side of the story, and have a conversation about actions and consequences, there’s always a lightbulb moment that you see. The moment they understand the gravity of what they did and also being given the chance to speak up for themselves. Even though it’s one of the hardest conversations you need to have, they’re also the most enlightening (for them AND me) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. These students go on to be some of our best performers and it’s all because we gave them a “second chance”. – Dee

We were told that being a homeroom teacher meant being their ‘guardian angel’ for the duration of the course. The reality of this hit home one night when my phone rang at 12.46am. (I keep my phone switched on 24/7 to be accessible to my own kids who are now adults and live out of home.) One of my homeroom kids was bawling his eyes out. Through his sobbing, it took me a while to comprehend that his dad had just passed away from a sudden heart attack. When I visited, his mom said “ape putha palaweni call eka gathe miss ta” (You were the first person my son called). This touched me deeply. I will continue to keep my phone switched on not only for the four kids I birthed, but also for the twenty or so kids I adopt every 6 months! – Ilma

I think my most memorable experience at Avinya would be the first workshop we did with the kids! It was monumental for me as I was stepping into a new role and a new career. As a team, it meant we were setting off on a new adventure into uncharted territory. I still remember the nerves setting in and yet the team made me feel like I was right where I was meant to be. – Vihan

Despite having joined the academy a few weeks ago and teaching for a short while, I was pleasantly surprised when the kids presented me with heartfelt appreciation gifts. Their thoughtful gestures made me realise the impact even a brief time together can have, highlighting the genuine connections that can be formed through teaching. The memory of those appreciative smiles and gifts remains a heartwarming reminder of the meaningful bonds that can be created in a short span. – Roshanie

Taking a nostalgic trip down memory lane, one standout moment from the first year is walking through the open corridors of our brand-new campus, surrounded by the excited buzz of students gearing up for their lessons in their new haven. It was a heartwarming moment that whispered, “We’re on this journey now.” – Anju

Undoubtedly, every day is memorable at Avinya and that’s why we say, never a dull day! I will always remember the last day I met all my ‘Elephants’ together. (As some of them left for work the week after.) It was very emotional as well as full of expectations. It struck all of us that we had come to the end of our physical meet-ups, and that all would be gone in different directions soon. We all shared how we felt on the first day, what prejudice we had, how each other thought of one another. It was hilarious as well as sad. I will always cherish my dearest FIRST EVER Elephants till the end of time. (On a lighter note, I will never forget 25th of July 2023, as it was the very first day, we felt cold at Avinya and we switched off all the fans at 12 noon!!) – Vidushi

On the day of an emergency at school – Vids and I doing “The Sprint” back (Vids in pink pants and pink shoes) and I in some other god forsaken shoes – trying to make it back before the rain pounded down on us (the only thing missing was Chariots of Fire music in the background ). Both of us laughing so hard and amidst the panting and Vids telling me; “If our doctor knows about us doing this run – he will ask us both to quit Avinya!!” We were greeted by very amused kids cheering and clapping that both of us made it without breaking our teeth! A few moments later, calmly behind us comes Ilma who chose to walk and not endanger her life!! Life at Avinya and all its memorable moments! – Dilani

There were many unforgettable moments during this past year. I can never forget how we went to a wrong funeral. All of us got onto Ashan’s truck without knowing the place of the funeral. We then chose the longest route ever and ended up going to someone else’s funeral. Our own team of educators, shaping the next generation of students! XD – Sanduni

Even though I joined the team quite recently, they made sure to make me feel like I was a part of them all along. Amongst all the fun memories I experienced here, the Graduation day stands out because the excitement of the students and the teachers were so real and pure. The way the students acted like they were wizards from Hogwarts once they wore their graduation gown was a sight filled with cheer and laughter. Seeing them happy made me feel grateful to be a part of the reason for their happiness. – Anuki

…and there we have it. A year in the life of Avinya. We’ve weathered the whirlwinds and conquered the waves. Toto, we’re home.

On the verge of embarking on another chapter of our Avinya chronicles, I want to take this moment to thank all the readers who have been faithfully following our blog and being a part of the journey right along with us. Thank you!

We will see you next week with a bright, new window into the next phase! Have a lovely weekend!

– Sinalie