Westmont Magazine A Wave of Relief
Students Serve in Sri Lanka
When Professor Thomas Jayawardene and his wife, Jasmine, founded the Children of Joy orphanage in Sri Lanka six years ago, their goal was to help children orphaned by the nation’s 18-year civil war. They could not have envisioned the other tragedy that would devastate their native land: the December 2004 tsunami that killed 31,000 Sri Lankans and left 9,000 orphans.
Four Westmont students spent a month in Sri Lanka this summer to join the sociology professor and his wife in helping children orphaned by the tsunami. The orphanage, named the Children of Joy, is expanding to provide a home for about a dozen tsunami orphans. The facility already includes a children’s center that provides food, clothing, medical care and school materials to 150 youngsters.
“I thought we’d work in the orphanage, but it was even cooler,” says Christina Bast ’05. The students trained Sri Lankan volunteers who will work with the children once the expanded orphanage is finished. They helped remodel a newly purchased building by scraping old paint off walls and doing some landscaping.
Bast says she learned from the Jayawardene’s generosity and love. “I was so sad,” she recalls, “and Dr. Jayawardene told me that love is a stronger force than a tsunami. You can do so much just by loving the people around you.”
Now that Bast has graduated from Westmont, she’s already looking forward to volunteering for the Mayterm program in Thailand.
“You’ve got to go without expectations,” she says, “because if you go with expectations you’re going to have disappointment. You can learn a whole lot and gain a whole lot more with an open heart and a humble attitude.”