Generations of inspirations through SCI volunteerism

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka


Written by Bernadine David Yatawara from Sri Lanka

June 2020

This is a story of how SCI with its rich essence of volunteerism, through Work-camps has especially touched the lives of 3 generations in Sri Lanka. 

My parents John and Therese David became SCI members in the 1960s. They were a young couple with two daughters aged 8 and 6. I recall my mother saying that when she went for the first SCI work camp near Kandy to clear the land for a school playground in 1963, she was 5 months pregnant with my brother Sherwin. (Then came Tyrone my younger brother in 1965 and my kid sister Tootsy in 1967.)

We grew up with the principles of SCI – to share, to love, & to care indiscriminately. We were fortunate to meet those beautiful people who crossed many miles and seas to volunteer with SCI Sri Lanka. In those early years, SCI did not have an office, an address nor accommodation for foreign volunteers from other SCI branches. Fortunately, we had a house with enough floor space. It was common for my sister and I to come after school to find a rucksack sitting outside our room and a new occupant. Within minutes this stranger would be part of the family, sipping tea, sharing meals, washing dishes, like anyone of us. Our home was the SCI volunteer rest, it was the SCI office, it was the SCI meeting place.

I remember when my father was the Secretary of SCI Kandy, we had an old ‘Gestener’ (Roneo) machine. Daddy would first type the stencil on his noisy old typewriter, and then roll it on the machine, regularly squeezing a large tube of ink, which looked like black toothpaste, into the machine. My sister Sherrine, and I would turn the stubborn wheel of the machine, my two younger brothers and little sister would wait to pull out the prints and place them on the floor to dry. We then would sit around and fold the printed sheets, affix postage stamps ready for the postbox. A monument of my father’s endeavors is the present Blue Rose School for Special Needs, which was started with my cousin sister Shayama David along with a few other special-needs children 1978.

As kids we never had sightseeing holidays like other kids did. Our weekends and holidays were always spent at SCI work camps, either painting hospital beds, cleaning an elder’s home or clearing a school playground. Volunteering was part of life for us, which we enjoyed immensely. 

There is no doubt that SCI has deeply touched the lives of my parents (now deceased), me, my siblings and even my daughter (Natasha) in a very special way and is a major influence on what each one of us are today. The true volunteerism of giving without expecting: the unconditional love for the living, has given us the joy of sharing, caring and sense of fulfilment. We wish SCI continues to inspire lives around the globe, as it did us.


* This story was be winner of the the first SCI Stories contest “Voice yourself”. Bernadine, thank you very much for your participation. Thanks to people like you and your parents, the SCI movement continues to be alive and positively impacting the lives of thousands of people!

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