Avinya Foundation

Series 2, Blog #28 – Unbreakable Family Bonds and Stepping Back to Move Forward

Hello dear readers,

Welcome to another installment of the Avinya Scoop and a rather important one at that! After a long hiatus, the reigning queen of blog writing herself will be taking over this week to update our readers about some important changes in play for Avinya as well as to pay all our tributes to two cherished members of our team who have sadly taken their final bows on the Avinya stage. Over to Anju!

As Roshani mentioned in last week’s blog, when the curtains closed on graduation day, amidst all the bustle and emotions we had to bid a very sad farewell to Vidushi. A key member of our pioneer educator team, she is unique in so many ways. With her unparalleled ability to weave words into captivating metaphors, she can ignite a fire within you with just one speech. Not only that, she is so vibrant and full of life in her fashion sense which is also mirrored in her personality. She is one of those people who has that infectious energy that makes you want to start long meaningful conversations with her and delve into the mysteries of life in that insightful and lighthearted way that only Vidushi could somehow manage to balance. It was a sad parting indeed. 

Today, we had to say goodbye again – to Dilani our tranquil and steadfast educator who is never lost for words. Her quiet strength and dedication to her students cast a serene aura around her classroom. Whenever I passed by, I couldn’t help but be touched by the eager faces of her students, hanging onto her every word. It was as if she held a magic wand, effortlessly guiding them through the realms of knowledge and understanding. She knew what each one was up to before they turned. Perhaps it was a mother’s intuition, perhaps it was something else.

We will miss these two talented individuals both inside and outside the classroom. Never has an office environment had so much free flowing pasta, cake, sweet treats and beverage concoctions to explore. We were truly spoilt by their incredible cooking talents.

I’m terrible at goodbyes so this is a ‘see you soon’ as they both have promised to hover like guardian angels, watching over Avinya to step in whenever we need. But we do wish them all the very best as they start their next chapters. Of course, their presence will be sorely missed, but our experiences together are forever etched in the tapestry of our memories and we will be showing up at their doorsteps more often than they think for a catch up. Here’s a fair warning 😉

As we turn the page to a new chapter, it is a slightly different landscape this time around. Our student recruitment numbers haven’t soared as swiftly as earlier which has prompted us to pause and recalibrate. We have many lessons from the two batches we have completed within a short span of a year so we found that this is a golden opportunity to consolidate and learn from our experiences.

We’ve started diving headfirst into action. We’ve crafted a short interim course focusing on English and IT for our incoming students where we will also be piloting some of our revamped curriculum. 

But that’s not all. We’ve listened to the aspirations of our students from Batch 2023b and are also piloting two NVQ Level 3 courses in ICT Technician and Customer Services Assistant to meet their vocational training needs.

On top of this, we feel that one cannot emphasise the importance of communication skills enough, so we are introducing pronunciation and conversation clubs to both groups. I’m personally very excited about this because I have not met a single English language learner who doesn’t want to improve both

Despite some uncertainty, it has been extremely liberating to regroup, reassess, and refine our approach as a team. The immense amount of teamwork in the Avinya family has been astounding and inspiring and  the immense amount of expertise and budding material writing talent has been impressive to say the least!

Last week, the Avinya leads and the board took some time to brainstorm some initial ideas to chart our long-term strategic plan. While still in the early stages, initial discussions point towards transitioning to a comprehensive one-year course. This new format would encompass English, IT, essential job skills, and a vocational focus (the specifics of which are still under consideration).

Once again as part of our ethos, we know that it ‘takes a village’ to make a difference, so we understand that collaboration with partners is essential for the expansion of our courses. So once we have drawn up firmer plans, we will actively seek out potential partners who share our commitment to preparing the next generation for meaningful employment and meeting the evolving demands of the labour market. 

I shall sign off my reflective entry in this week’s blog with three things I have learnt so far on my journey.

  • Prioritise making a meaningful impact for our students. Our responsibility extends beyond teaching; it’s about shaping the future generation.
  • Embrace the role of ‘observer in familiar spaces’. The insights gained can be transformative and offer fresh perspectives as well as new understanding. Seeing things through a different lens can be enlightening.
  • Listen amidst the cacophony of external distractions and life’s commotions, let ideas come to you and be open to them. Chart a course but always remember why you are on the ship in the first place!

Until next time…

– Anju

It’s with a heavy heart that I sit down to pen the blog entry for this week. Just like Anju, I’ve been in a fine state of denial about the departures of our beloved Vidushi and Dilani, and it’s only as the clickity-clack of the keyboard reverberates through my ears that I’m forced to accept how impossibly sad I (and all of us) will be to lose two such amazing pillars of our Avinya family. I will miss being Vidushi’s daughter’s school double that she cannot seem to escape and being on the receiving end of Dilani’s “aneh pau” amidst merciless teasing. 

Your strong wills as educators and the singular love you had towards your students, powerful enough to move heaven and earth, has been nothing short of amazing to witness. Looking back, as a student, I yearned to truly be “seen” and understood by my teachers. It was only a handful who were truly able to have this impact. Vids and Dil, you are the kind of educators who will forever hold a corner of your students’ hearts because of the wonderful, formidable impact you’ll have on each of their lives. It has been an honour to have worked alongside you and learnt from you as well. I will now be joining Anju on the “see you soon” train as it’s the only way to cope with this double whammy. Until then, I wish you both luck with all your future adventures!

Shifting gears to other news, amidst the bittersweet farewells, we’ve begun charting new pathways forward. As we brainstorm ideas to reshape our journey, I want to offer a glimpse into the post-grad statuses of our Empower Batch 2023. It’s worth noting that these statistics are somewhat dynamic at the moment but our wonderful HRTs will be conducting monthly checks on our students to keep up with their progress.

A significant number of our students have chosen to join training offered by Pizza Hut in order to gain some insight and get a foot in the door of the hospitality sector. Some of our other students plan to join our CS and ICT NVQ Level 3 courses. A percentage of students who joined our Empower program while their O/L results were pending, whose main objective was to gain 21st century skills, have decided to try their hand at sitting for the A/L examination.

Out of the others who have followed their own intuition seeking other opportunities, we’re happy to announce that Ministry of Crab has continued their partnership and recruited two of our students while two more of our students were able to obtain scholarships to study at Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) Bandarawela Hotel School. We sincerely thank Anita, the country manager of Solidaridad, for making this possible and SLITHM Bandarawela Hotel School for providing this opportunity. 

We wish all of our students the best of luck in this new chapter of their lives!

In closing, we want to thank our donors for sponsoring this course and making a significant impact on our students’ lives. We’d also like to extend our appreciation to our partners for facilitating our students’ entry into the professional world, as well as to all our well-wishers, helpers and anyone who has provided assistance in varying capacities. Together, we’ve positively impacted the lives of another 117 children. 

On that note, I’m signing off, we’ll see you in the next update!

– Sinalie