Thursday, the 10th of May, marked our final visit to the hospital this academic year. Due to commitments such as exams, and figuring out service plans for next year, we had our final fun hour with the children this Thursday. Adhering to our goal of providing the children with the childhood and cultural opportunities that they miss due to their battle with cancer, we made the visit centered on the Sri Lankan (Buddhist) festival of Vesak.
Falling on the full moon occurring during May, Vesak is a greatly celebrated holiday in Sri Lanka, which marks the birth of the Buddha in Buddhism. As a child, my favorite part of this holiday was going out at night to see the lanterns adorning the doorsteps of houses and shops alike, making for a spectacular sight in their shiny, brightly colored glory. As a build up to all of this excitement, I used to love making the lanterns for our house with my parents, deciding on the colors I wanted and wondering if we could attach christmas lights to make it glow. This kind of childhood joy and immersion in culture is something that the kids at the hospital whole-heartedly deserved, and so, that is what we delivered to them.
When we brought the supplies to the hospital and got the kids started on their own lantern, their mothers also soon joined in, and in a matter of minutes, all of us worked together enthusiastically to complete the lanterns. Making lanterns with the kids remind me once again of the joy the activity gave me when I was younger – seeing them running around with the lanterns, and turning them into absorbing toys with their imagination, made me realize that they appreciated this part of our culture in a way that I never could.
Having to leave the hospital knowing that it was going to be my last visit, only made me more determined to come back next year, especially if I can once again work with teachers and students who are so committed to the service and, above all, the kids.