A time and incident he would prefer to erase from his memory
Shy Kavindu was brought to the SOS Children's Village as a six day-old baby
The wooden stage comes alive in a burst of riotous colors, as children dressed in bright costumes resplendent with golden head-gear, begin a vigorous dance; it is the final dress rehearsal of the Holiday Camp competition at the Children’s Village, Monragala. Supporting the artists off-stage and seated right below, dressed in white, are the equally talented child singers and musicians, matching beat for beat. Fourteen year-old Kavindu, focused entirely on the harmonium he is playing, is unaware of the attention he sometimes still attracts from people as the ‘Tsunami boy’. It is after all, a time and incident he would prefer to erase from his memory.
The small-built, shy Kavindu was brought to the Children’s Village, Moonragala as a six day-old baby and since then, had an extremely close bond with his SOS mother Malani; this bond has only been strengthened further after the Tsunami-related trauma ten years ago.
53 year-old Malani begins the tale, “I was taking four year-old Kavindu to my own home in Tangalle on Boxing Day, a decade ago, when our bus was engulfed with water near Hambantota. I remember screaming and swallowing water. I was holding Kavindu but then lost consciousness and woke up only at the hospital, realizing that the child was not with me. Frantic with worry and crying non-stop, I asked everyone to start searching for him. The SOS Village Director also came and started a massive hunt. They asked me to go back to the Village but I refused. I decided if Kavindu wasn’t found I would never return. After a long search we were able to find Kavindu in the children’s ward, his clothes had been ripped off; he was in shock and for a long time he couldn’t bear to even hear the word ‘Hambantota’. He would also not allow me out of his sight. For a year I didn’t go home, my family would visit me here,” she concludes.
Kavindu’s serious little face breaks into a spontaneous smile as he admits he is SOS Mother Malani’s favorite, “ I feel happy to have a mother like her, to stay with her, she brings me things I like when she returns from her village, she helps me with my studies so that I do well and she’s there for me always. She loves me a lot and I still sleep with her.” Kavindu says his Tsunami memories are fading slowly, so are the fears—Malani in turn ensured that she spent a lot more time talking to Kavindu to help him cope with his trauma; she also took him along to her village several times.
“SOS takes care of abandoned children like me…” says Kavindu somberly, sitting on a grassy slope outside his house in the Village. “ It is a very good place to live in, I feel very happy in this house with this family—no different from any ‘family’ I see on TV, they are my own brothers and sisters; I like celebrating my birthday with them—I wear a new suit, cut a cake and have a lot of fun. And when I become an engineer, I will take my Mother to live with me,” says Kavindu smiling happily.
The miracle of reunions, the miracle of survival, the miracle of transformation—SOS is the catalyst of many such stories of transition and triumph.