Last weekend I went to a Sing-A-Long fundraiser for the Peter Weeraekera Children’s Home. This was my first introduction to Colombo society, and it was a great deal of fun. I attended the event with several other Fulbrighters, it was held at the BMICH hall in Colombo.
The Orphanage houses about 50 girls, all of whom attend school. The money raised at the event goes towards covering their living expenses and providing scholarships for academically gifted girls to attend private schools.
After settling into our table the music started a few minutes later, and the band played a few introductory songs to get the crowd going. All of the attendees were provided with a booklet of song lyrics, ranging from Sinhalese favorites to “Old Suzanna”. After four or five songs, tables started going up to sing. It wasn’t long before the event organizer came up to get our table up to sing; the song we choose was “This Land Is Your Land”.
After singing, it was only natural that our host insisted we start dancing. For a while we were the only ones on the dance floor, but soon we started to be joined by others at the party. The little girls, dressed in beautiful saris, enjoyed dancing with a few of the Fulbrighters.
The highlight of the event was towards the end of the night when a kind Sri Lankan brought over some rum for our table; sadly we had not been informed that the event was a BYO. Ganesh, the man who pitied us enough to share some liquor, was a really interesting man. I will never forget what he told me:
If you have any problems let me know, not that you will have problems in Sri Lanka. We are a very kind people. But if you do, we know police, the army, and the ministries If they cant help you, I know the President. He can help you, a very nice man.
I doubt it will be necessary, but I’ll be sure to keep his business card on hand…