Pre-school Ministry We become mothers to these children with the quality of love that God has bestowed on us. We as the followers of Mother Armerlink our foundress, keep our pre-schools open to all irrespective of all differences racial or social. So we celebrate all the festival of religions, laying the first stepping stone for religious, ethnic harmony and reconciliation. As all the children are not equally intelligent, we help them to grow and improve their talents and capabilities. We teach them good values. Children are the future. So we teach them to think of others and be generous. The Psalmist says those who sow in tears come back full of joy with the harvest. So it is same with children. They come with tears and go with joy with a good harvest that they reap in our pre-schools. Our simplicity of life is a consolation for children and parents and even to the teachers.
For each human person the family is the primary school of love, acceptance and understanding. Unfortunately there are so many children today who do not experience the warmth of love and care of a family due to most pathetic reasons as the death of a parent or both, divorce, social evils as drugs, alcohol-related violence and a prolonged time of migration etc. At the presence of such scenarios women and children become the victims, becoming most unloved, neglected and ignored without understanding and care. (The Trail Blazer) and the Constitution stresses that we shall always give the first preference to the economically poor; among the poor, girls and women will receive our special attention. This criterion shall be to us a mark of fidelity to the charism of Johanna Amerlinck. Our Sadasarana Home at Lunuwila in Chilaw diocese accompanies 30 girls between the ages of 8 to 18, all from broken families who are mostly unloved, neglected and ignored not only by society but also by their own families and loved ones. We are committed to provide them their basic needs most of all love, care and attention. Our primary mission to these children is listening to them closely, strengthening them in their vulnerability and building trustful relationships. The close supervision and compassionate accompaniment of the children is the Sisters’ highest commitment in creating a safe home for these young girls to grow into maturity. As Sisters, we ourselves experience immensely God’s providential care and love in various economical and financial situations in the Girl’s Home. We also help the girls to realize and to experience the joy of being loved and cared for by God Our Father. So their lives become meaningful, better and more beautiful. They are helped to discuss, reflect on the Word of God to touch their life situations and feel that they are never left alone.
The book of Isaiah 49: 15 reveals God’s love: Does a woman forget her baby at the Breast or fail to cherish the son of her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will not forget you. 43:1 Do not be afraid for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name, you are mine. “ Yes we strengthen them to grow in faith. We give importance to; • Regular individual interviews. • Empowering and encouraging them to realize their talents and the importance of studies • Help them grow from good to great by promoting self respect, self esteem and self worth. • Build them as God- fearing children • Provide them the opportunities to accomplish their dreams in life.
In 1953 it was the then Archbishop of Colombo Thomas Benjamin Cooray who saw the plight of daily-paid city labourers needing a safe day- care centre for their children. With the support of the Social Service Commissioner and Dominican Sisters initiated to look after Infants from 3months to up to 5 years of age, making a total of 50, were to be admitted to a Crèche or Day- Care Center under the Probations and Child Care Services branch of the Social Service Department.
As Dominican Sisters went abroad, the Crèche was handed over to the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Since then we provide a safe place and care to the needy children, irrespective of race and creed by giving them their meals and providing for their physical, psychological, educational and social needs. As the first five years are the most formative years of life, we look into all possibilities for integral growth. They stay from 7.15 am till 5.30 pm.
“And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:40
Annual events are a trip, Kids’ Fair, National New Year festival, and end of year concert. Regular parents meetings are held to build relationships and promote unity and harmony. The staff comprising 5 members performs a noble and difficult task for ten long hours daily.
We are encouraged in this service by seeing the development and growth in the children. Feedback from parents is that their anxieties over the care of their children are taken away through the safe haven of the Crèche. The children are well prepared to take the next step of schooling, having no fears and anxieties.
The words of Jesus, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
These words continue to animate us to reach out to the children with compassionate love.
I am Sanjeewa Bandara. I am in the Army and work as an IT Operator. My wife is also in the Army and works in the same section. My work schedule is from 7.30am – 4.30pm.
We have one child Thishani Oshidie. Now she is 3 years old and attends St. Martin’s Crèche Montessori.
Recalling the early months of my baby’s life, till 8 months we could manage her at home with my wife’s maternity leave and parents’ support. As we both had to start work, we could not imagine what to do as our parents were also working and were unable to support us continually. We were so helpless and desperately looking for a safe place to keep our child during working hours and managing with our finances. Then we came to know about St. Martin’s Crèche. As the baby was a tiny toed ( ??? ), we without any hope visited the place looking for kindness and compassion from the Sisters. When we shared our plight, Sister was so kind and willing to accept our baby and gave us all the necessary instructions to follow. For us it was as if heaven opened for us. We have no words to express the consolation we experienced. The place was so clean and beautiful. What we most looked for was security and protection. With the facilities available we were extremely happy. We felt that our baby is in safe hands.
The baby was cared for so lovingly with the other 50 children under 5 years of age. Every child was so safe in the place. The Sister and the staff were as diligent, loving and caring towards each child and they attended to their duties so responsibly. We had no anxiety during our working hours. As parents we feel our children won’t miss our absence because the children experience the crèche as their second home, better cared for, fed, put to sleep, washed, etc
As parents we are so happy and grateful to the Sisters of Perpetual Help and the trained staff who are so committed to take care of the children in a pleasing manner.
In the evening as tired working parents come to take their children home, they will also rally around the Sisters pouring out their stories of heartaches; of sometimes drunken or drug addicted husbands or problems of their work places, family chaos etc. One day my wife in conversation asked the young Sisters what motivates them to care so compassionately for poor and helpless working mothers and their kids.
Then she said that it is our Perpetual Help way of life. “The mission of our Congregation calls us to be rooted in Christ and to commit ourselves to be constantly challenged by the poor and needy especially women and girls and to be fellow-strugglers with them to a liberated life.” Therefore sharing your life with me is my vocation.
A very poor mother speaks with grateful heart .We Sisters of Perpetual Help are inspired by our Foundress’ life and words whenever we are called to serve the poor.
“ The poor belonged in a special way to God. They were his and she felt drawn to dedicate and commit her life and fortune to the service of the poor.” Amerlinck- The Trail –Blazer
Kavidha is a domestic helper. Her husband is a gardener. They have two children. Both are brought up in the crèche.
She says when the elder child was 1 year old her husband met with a serious accident. For 4 years he was in and out of hospital undergoing a series of operations. It was not possible for her to do any job other than looking for means to attend to the work of the husband who is bed-ridden and the little child. That was a real struggle and pain. She almost went from house to house to collect some money and provisions to provide necessities for the sick husband and baby.
Then she came to know about St. Martin’s crèche and came with all her husband’s medical reports and the baby. As she opened up with her story, the Sister in charge was so compassionate towards her. She not only accepted to look after the child but also gave her a part-time job to cook. Then the baby and the mother had their meals in the Crèche and she went every noon to hospital with a lunch parcel leaving the child in the crèche till evening.
Yes it was done for the Lord. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people that you do unto me.”
She says it is an unforgettable kindness she experienced through St. Martin’s Crèche and she is so grateful. Today she brings her second child to the crèche and both have started to work once again as labourers in rich houses for daily pay.
A VOYAGE ON UN CHARTERED
A QUEST IN SEARCH OF GOD & MAN….”
Following the light of Mother Amerlinck’s vision, as Perpetual Help Sisters we have been called and sent out to the mission of teaching in formal institutions.
While imparting knowledge we also support for the child to grow up to be a full, integrated person enhancing once faith.
Dedication is the key to selfless loving service which is lacking much with the new trends in society. Therefore the children are wounded both physically & mentally.
As Jesus said “ Let the children come to me …“ We ,the disciples of Jesus are called to enrich the lives of children to bloom wherever they may be planted in the future.
In 1768 Our foundress gave her house and properties to begin her first charitable work , i.e a school in which to give free instruction to poor girls. She taught them
reading, writing, arithmetic, needle work and catechism.
Recent past the Ragama sisters too opted to work for a marginalized group , a set of poor girls to read and write . They live in Samagi Mawatha in shanty houses .
Sunday evening are spent with these children . They are poor and socially backward. This year the two sisters who visit there organized Sinhala Aurudu celebrations
in order to brings the parents and villages together. It was a grand event.
With the arrival of Belgian Missionary Sisters they served as ministering angels to the Tuberculosis patients at the Chest Hospital, Ragama.
Later they reached out to the sick in different corners of their localities with the medicine box in hand, to treat bed-ridden patients, home-bound patients.
St. Martin’s Home for Elders
St. Martins’ Home ministry is taking care of a set of elderly ladies, in the sunset years of their lives and to approach and accept the aging process gracefully.
It has been that always 2 or 3 Sisters are involved with a supporting staff to make their lives more comfortable providing their entire spiritual, material and physical needs according to their requirements. The Chapel for them is the Treasure House to meet the Lord daily and to seek comfort at all times. They also have great joy during the Season of Advent and Christmas with the different groups of carol singers, young and old visiting them, adding to a very joyous Christmas
Atmosphere. The Parish community often rekindles the spirit of fellowship through various activities to keep the elderly in high spirits, joining with the Sisters and Helpers.
The Sisters and the staff working hours and dates are decided by health and requirements of the ladies. All the ladies are over 75 years of age. The eldest is 95 yes.
Sr. Marina Perera who is a professional Nurse expressing her unique experience with the elderly speaks of the necessity of considering them as less physically able, less mentally alert, and more thirsting for God and emotionally less sensitive. As such the care we provide must include all these, understanding and accepting them in this capacity.