Avinya Foundation

Series 2, Blog #36 – Sailing Through June: Reflections on Resilience and Transformation

Dear readers,

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” – Maud Hart Lovelace

Ah, the month of June has almost passed us by. Half of 2024 has sailed away into the sunset!

June is special for many reasons, and not just because it’s my birthday month, although that’s a pretty good reason, don’t you think? ;). In some countries, June marks the dawn of summer, and universally, it’s a month filled with love. Fun fact: I was a June bride myself, many moons ago. So, what’s my point here? In a world often overshadowed by negativity and bad news, there’s something truly special happening around us right now.

A few days ago, I was asked by someone from the western world, why there seem to be so many migrants from Sri Lanka over there. As I listed the reasons, I had an epiphany: we no longer have fuel or gas queues! Sure, we still have our fair share of problems, but we’ve overcome so much as a nation. It’s been and will be a bit of a long journey, but we are getting there step by step. Sri Lanka is a gem and the natural beauty and resources it possesses makes it an exceptionally special place to call home.

So, in this landscape of developing step by step, Avinya has been busy playing her own role in her own way.  We’ve been rethinking and questioning everything we do, striving to do better and be better. Asking questions like, ‘how can we make a real impact on our community?’ and finding solutions in developing and rolling out free community weekend programmes for the community (children and adults) to enhance their IT skills and get on the path of becoming tech explorers. Not only that as you read in the earlier blog post by Geeth this month, the Customer Service Vocational students did a marvellous job planning and hosting a Dansala in partnership with the owner of a local shop and with support from staff, suppliers and well-wishers. The event was so much fun for everyone involved. We’ve also introduced afternoon sessions to teach English to the children in the community. Besides our core weekday programs, we’ve tried hard to go the extra mile, adding various initiatives to play our part  in making a positive impact. We’re not just here to participate; we’re here to make a difference.

Sure, our primary focus revolves around one key question: how can we empower underprivileged children eager to explore alternative paths in higher education, yet lack the resources or guidance to do so? But it is never a simple question but one with many facets. Let’s ponder the child who can’t afford a pair of shoes to attend school, or the one whose home was swept away by floods, their cherished belongings lost to the currents. In a world brimming with challenges, let’s champion kindness and mutual support. Let’s open our hearts, sharing not just our books and homes, but also our wealth of knowledge. After all, a little generosity can spark a wave of change that knows no bounds. Being in this space, that is one lesson I’ve learned. Don’t take things around you for granted. The stories I’ve encountered here fill me with immense pride. Despite facing adversity, these students have admirably turned their challenges into opportunities. It has been a privilege to witness their resilience and determination as they worked hard to play the bad hand well and still make it to class with a skip in their step and a smile on their face.

Overall, experience has been our teacher through this journey. I cannot tell you that I have not made mistakes and it’s been a perfect ride. Plenty of mistakes have been made and what I have learnt is instead of beating myself up, what is more important is to reflect and learn from it.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

These moments have served as valuable lessons, shaping my own growth and contributing in a strange way to our collective wisdom as a team, as we draw on each other more to support us through our journey together. There is certainly a deeper reliance on one another as we navigate our journey together.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

Finally, behind every success story lies a dedicated team, the unsung heroes who’ve been the wind beneath the wings of our students. Avinya has been privileged to have a wonderful team who have through thick and thin stood by the students, going the extra mile and then some. Their unwavering commitment is a testament to their resilience, reminding us of the importance of nurturing our team as leaders through stormy seas, ensuring their sails stay aloft and their spirits thrive. 

I was so touched this month when two brave souls (Isuru and Roshani) battled treacherous weather and rough roads to return to Colombo, not being back to welcome their students on Monday just wasn’t an option they said. Of course, we need to remember the wonderful souls who rallied round with support across the country during this difficult period. Yet another example of our resilience. How many more lent a helping hand when the floods wreaked havoc? I had a personal helper who despite their own home being submerged, insisted on showing up for work. I was blown away by the level of commitment. This level of dedication and resilience is nothing short of awe-inspiring. It’s moments like these that reaffirm our belief in being the change we wish to see. 

Through all this, while Avinya may be just a drop in the ocean, we’re eagerly anticipating the opportunity to merge with the sea. Sorry, a lot of sea related metaphors today 😉

We are all joined together in our collective pursuit to instil hope and vision in the new generation. Stay tuned, as in the coming weeks, we’ll unveil some exciting changes and updates as we gear up for what promises to be a fantastic new academic year.

“Education is our greatest opportunity to give an irrevocable gift to the next generation.” – Ernie Fletcher

– Anju