Meeting My Long Lost younger sister, Klára Gebhartová

Klara Gebhartova with the students of Horizon Lanka

Klara Gebhartova with the students of Horizon Lanka

I have three older sisters, but do not have a younger sister. I always wished, how wonderful it would have been if I ever had one. But when Miss Klára Gebhartová from the Czech Republic came to stay at my home to teach at Horizon Lanka last August, I had a strange feeling that I was meeting my long lost younger sister.

Klara was a final year medical student at prestigious Charles University in Prague. She came to us at a time we were struggling as an organization, both financially and academically. But she changed that negative atmosphere prevailing at the time, into a positive one by working earnestly both with the children and the staff. She won the hearts of the children and the parents, by having a natural smile at all times. She did not confine her teaching to the classrooms alone, but taught the children while walking around the village in the very hot sun in the month of August. The number of children at Horizon Lanka too started increasing day by day.

At that time, I was tied up with writing a lengthy funding proposal, therefore she was on her own. Hence she did not have my guidance for her work schedule.  She scheduled her lessons and classes the way she and the children wished and consulted me only when she felt that she needed my advice.

The only time we could talk at length was during our meals. I joined her during almost all meals and we would talk about the difference of cultures in our two countries. Klara was not interested in Czech politics, which I was interested in. I could understand the reasons for it. She was born in the post-communist era.  Hence, could not comment on the communist era much. My late father being a hardcore communist, I had enough communist literature lying around our home which I read since I was a kid and knew much more than Klara did about Czech politics I guess.

Within a few days of our mealtime informal talks, Klara started asking endless questions on Buddhism. Coming from one of the most atheistic countries, I was surprised by her logical questions. I answered with the limited knowledge I had and for the rest, I referred the questions to friends with better knowledge of Buddhism. Her inquisitive questions and my modest researched answers made her devotee of Buddhism I guess. She started meditating at dawn and walked to the nearby Buddhist temple several times.

Like most of the other Czech volunteers, Klara was a good sportswoman. A good volleyball player too. Volleyball is not something I fancied so I wanted to get her into playing cricket with us. She mastered the game of cricket – probably the most complicated game in the world – very quickly and started hitting unstoppable boundaries and sixes. She had played baseball so she had a better grip of the bat and thrashed the ball out of the park most of the times. She was an all-rounder in cricket. She batted vigorously, bowled fast balls and fielded professionally. Thanks to her, the girls at Horizon Lanka too started playing cricket than their favorite game, volleyball.

One of her requests to me was that, I should resume drawing pictures like I used to do before I was introduced to computers in 1999. I promised I would do a painting before the end of 2015 which I could not accomplish. But maybe, before the end of this year I might do so.

At my request, Klara brought me a good book, “The Czechs in a Nutshell” which I am still reading. I wish I could read this faster, but with the backlog of 10 years of work at Horizon Lanka, I do not have the luxury of reading as fast as I used to be in the past.

Klara was one of the smartest female volunteers that I met at Horizon Lanka. I wish I had more time to spend/work with her, but my tight schedule at the time did not allow me to do so. I know she would be a wonderful doctor soon (and hopefully, would volunteer at Horizon Lanka once again.)

Now Klara is the “Official Ambassador” of Horizon Lanka for the Czech Republic. Whenever someone from her country talks to me about volunteering at Horizon Lanka, I immediately direct him or her to Klara and she ensures she always has tome to help out the new volunteer as she knows what and what not to do here in Mahawilachchiya.

I wanted to call her “Nangi” (Sinhala for younger sister), but was bashful to ask her if it was alright to call her that. But after she left, I asked the question with a lot of hesitation over a Facebook chat and she was over the moon, once I did so. Now I call her “Nangi” and she calls me “Ayya” (Sinhala for older brother.)

After 6 weeks, it was difficult to say goodbye to each other and when she had to do so. Just before leaving she knelt down in front of me, with her palms together in worshipful greeting, which is a customary traditional Sri Lankan custom, akin to Western custom of wishing Good Bye (abridged:  God be with you.) Usually this happens when a younger sister leaves home after marriage.  Klara did so in the presence of a big audience at the Mahawilachchiya Rural Hospital. I was flabbergasted and tried my best to stop her doing that, but she would not heed.

All I want now is to be present at her wedding someday and give her a good hug when she leaves with her future husband. Well, only if I am granted a visa to the Czech Republic. Let’s hope for the best.

Klara, Lubomir and I at Mahawilachchiya Rural Hospital

Klára Gebhartová with the students of Horizon Lanka
Klára Gebhartová with the students of Horizon Lanka
Klára Gebhartová at Horizon Lanka a
Klára Gebhartová at Horizon Lanka a
Klára Gebhartová with the students of Horizon Lanka
Klára Gebhartová with the students of Horizon Lanka

Miss Klára Gebhartová’s tour report of Horizon Lanka and Sri Lanka

Klára Gebhartová with the Horizon Lanka children
Klára Gebhartová with the Horizon Lanka children

My Experiences at Horizon Lanka, Mahawilachchiya, Sri Lanka

Spending almost five weeks in an environment where time flows without stress and where you can feel how living in the present moment is the right essence of life is an experience absolutely priceless.

Horizon Lanka was founded by Wanni.  A son of parents that worked very hard to give him and his siblings the very important thing in these days, education. English and computers are for Wanni, very important to get connected with other people in the world and how to get an opportunity of a better job in this village. His effort is to give this opportunity also to others. So that is what Wanni offers to children in Mahawilachchiya. The same as he got. And I am very honoured that I could be a part of it. A lot of people are still trying to find there sense of life. Wanni can be a beautiful and simple inspiration for everyone.

Read more in this link. http://www.horizonlanka.org/volunteering/klara-gebhartova/

28. Klára Gebhartová – The Czech Republic

Klára Gebhartová

klara-gebhartova-kids3

Miss Klára Gebhartová from the Czech Republic volunteered at Horizon Lanka from July 18 to August 17, 2015. She is a medical student and came to Mahawilachchiya when Horizon Lanka was strugling to make an impact on the village children after it was closed for 3 years. She was too smart in getting the kids back into the right track and rekindling their urge for education. She was a blessing to Horizon Lanka.

Klára Gebhartová’s Report

Dear Horizon Lanka,

My Experiences at Horizon Lanka, Mahawilachchiya, Sri Lanka

Spending almost five weeks in an environment where time flows without stress and where you can feel how living in the present moment is the right essence of life is an experience absolutely priceless.

Horizon Lanka was founded by Wanni.  A son of parents that worked very hard to give him and his siblings the very important thing in these days, education. English and computers are for Wanni, very important to get connected with other people in the world and how to get an opportunity of a better job in this village. His effort is to give this opportunity also to others. So that is what Wanni offers to children in Mahawilachchiya. The same as he got. And I am very honoured that I could be a part of it. A lot of people are still trying to find there sense of life. Wanni can be a beautiful and simple inspiration for everyone.

Wanni and Klára Gebhartová
Wanni and Klára Gebhartová

About Teaching

Miss Klára Gebhartová, teaching the students,
Miss Klára Gebhartová, teaching the students,

Children are the same all over the world. They like games, some of them are keen to learn, some of them prefer fun. As Wanni said, Horizon is not one of Hitler’s torture chambers (concentration camps) and Horizon Lanka does not impose curfew on its volunteers. You don’t have to be stressed that your English is not excellent and you are not a professional teacher. The only important thing is to teach with enthusiasm. Firstly I was a bit stressed, I did not have an exact timetable and the entire program was just on me. But in few days I realized that here is no one that would judge you. That I am here, that I am not perfect but I can do my best to give the children what I know. After I realized this everything and stayed open I started to get ideas and creativity naturally.

Klára Gebhartová swimming with the children
Klára Gebhartová swimming with the children

Life in Mahawilachchiya

Miss Klára Gebhartová, with Madhuri, Jeewni and Ammam
Miss Klára Gebhartová, with Madhuri, Jeewani and Amma

I stayed in the house with Wanni, Amma (Wanni’s mother) and Jeewani (Wanni’s niece).  After my stay I felt that I am leaving my home. I don’t think there is anything else to say.

I often went to the shop to buy cookies. Especially, Munchee Hawaiian Cookies biscuits (a popular type of biscuits here with some added coconut pieces). I walked barefoot and explained to the people I met that I like to walk like that when they started giving me their slippers. I went bathing to the canal almost every day with Jeewani, taking my clothes sometimes to wash them. I traveled by bus to the fair every Thursday, went to the Buddhist temple with Jeewani, I played cricket with the boys from the village, trained and played volleyball. We went watching stars falling down during the Perseid meteor shower and more and more.

Klára Gebhartová playing cricket
Klára Gebhartová playing cricket

Thank you Wanni, that you founded Horizon Lanka. Because of you I could meet all of you. Thank you, that you showed me importance of education.

Thank you Jeewani, that you took me everywhere, cooked delicious meals, showed me how you enjoy life even with a lot of work. (Still keeping our shower in the rain in mind :))

Klára Gebhartová with Madhuri, Jeewani and Amma
Klára Gebhartová with Madhuri, Jeewani and Amma

Sthuthiyi Amma (Thank you mother) for our tea time teaching me, that even without telling a word much can be told.

Klára Gebhartová, with her students at Mahawilachchiya reservoir's sluice gate.
Klára Gebhartová, with her students at Mahawilachchiya reservoir’s sluice gate.

Thank you children that you came and spent time with me. Thank you for the idea of bathing in the canal. Great thanks to Sewwandi, Rashmi, Malshi, Kanchana and Samanali. You were a great feedback for my teaching.

Klára Gebhartová with the Horizon Lanka children
Klára Gebhartová with the Horizon Lanka children

Thank you my friends Bhathiya, Jeewan and Sisira being interested in my life so we could share our experience and find a conclusion that it is probably the same all over the world. 😀 Thanks for Tantirimale and all other trips.

Thank you villagers taking me with open hearts and a smile.

Thank you Ramani and Udaya, inspiring me how can a relationship based on giving space to each other look like. Thank you Udaya for our talks about living in the moment.

Klára Gebhartová with the parents of Seevali School
Klára Gebhartová with the parents of Seevali School

 

Klára Gebhartová and Jeewani at Nihintale Rock Temple
Klára Gebhartová and Jeewani at Nihintale Rock Temple
Klára Gebhartová with Dr. Susil Premarathna's Family.
Klára Gebhartová with Dr. Susil Premarathna’s Family.

Thank you my Anuradhapura family (Dr. Susil Premarathna’s family) for showing me how quickly a person can open heart for others and for the meditation at Jethavanaramaya, Anuradhapura sacred city.

Thank you Janaka for the help during my first days and being so generous.

Thank you Mahesh and family showing us how person can run his business giving importance to a guest’s satisfaction.

Traveling in Sri Lanka

Klára Gebhartová with Lubosh
Klára Gebhartová with Lubosh

When we (my boyfriend Lubosh who joined with me for the last leg of the tour in Sri Lanka – going sightseeing -) started traveling it was little difficult for me, because I realized that when you become a tourist in Sri Lanka you look like someone who is rich (because he can afford to travel) so a lot of local people see you as a resource of money. When this happens there is not much space left to opening hearts to each other. That is why we did as much as we could to stay on the same line. Traveling in a rented motorbike, traveling in a government bus, eating in the canteens with local people, staying overnight in cheap guesthouses also a lot of times with families. I feel this is essential. I think that was a reason why we could meet also a lot of great people during our traveling. My favourite place was Pidurangala – a beautiful calm rock. Traveling in the mountains by train was awesome as well with many amazing views. An opportunity to try surfing was making my dream come true. I like snowboarding but in surfing the awesome thing is that you have to connect with the sea to know when the right time to ride is.

Klára Gebhartová with Lubosh
Klára Gebhartová with Lubosh

People in the Czech Republic prefer more private, do not smile so much and spend a lot of time thinking and planning. I am happy that I could see smiles, hospitality and people living in the presence.

Klára Gebhartová, is a final year medical student at the Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic

Klára Gebhartová wth Lubosh
Klára Gebhartová with Lubosh
Klára Gebhartová with Lubosh
Klára Gebhartová and Lubosh at a Buddh statue
Klára Gebhartová and Lubosh at a Buddh statue
Klára Gebhartová and Lubosh
Klára Gebhartová and Lubosh at the top of the Adam’s Peak. Climbing here off-season is unthinkable to many locals!
Klára Gebhartová
Klára Gebhartová
Sunset
Sunset

Read Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka’s report on Miss Klara.

Meeting My Long Lost younger sister, Klára Gebhartová