To the Beat of a Different Drum

By ChildFund Sri Lanka Staff

31 in 31He runs to his mother and father returning from the paddy fields and clutches their hands. The toy drum hangs from his neck. His energy and smiley face soon fade away the tired look on his parents’ faces. He starts to beat the drum and sing a song bringing a new life into the tired parents. He is Kolitha, a 4-year-old boy who lives in a remote village in Anuradhapura district of Sri Lanka, the next stop of our “31 in 31” blog series.

Sri Lanka, a country we have worked in since 1985, is a war-torn country where good news can be tough to find. This, however, is a story we have shared with visitors to our traveling toy exhibit, “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure.”

Kolitha (in the light blue) and his friends sing songs and beat their drums in Sri Lanka.

Kolitha (in the light blue) and his friends sing songs and beat their drums in Sri Lanka.

Kolitha’s parents are farmers working in paddy cultivation. The income they earn from farming is very low. This makes it hard for them meeting the needs of the family. They can provide their children only with basic necessities. So Kolitha and his sister always make improvised toys and sports equipments when it comes to play.

With a born enthusiasm to explore things, Kolitha is always a busy child. He loves to play with the children in his village. He loves to sing songs with his friends. Kolitha attends an education center in the village supported by the ChildFund project. The teacher at the center describes Kolitha as a very enthusiastic and creative child. She says that he actively participates in singing, dancing and other group activities at the center.

Kolitha’s inspiration for his bamboo drum came from attending his sister’s dancing class conducted by the project. One day, Kolitha came with his mother to watch his sister dancing. The drum played at the class impressed him so much that he first started to beat at the table when he went home. Then he started to try to make a drum that looked like the one at the dancing class. He had heard about bamboo drums at the education center. He pestered his tired father to accompany him to the stream where bamboo trees grow and brought home a piece of bamboo.

At home, his sister dances to songs he sings beating the drum. His parents also join the children clapping to songs. Kolitha takes the drum with him when he visits his friends. They sit under the shade of a tree and sing songs until their parents start coming looking for them. The bamboo drum that Kolitha made has attracted his friends to make their own drums. Kolitha has helped his friends in this and each of them has one now. He says happily that he wants to be a musician one day.

For more information about our work in Sri Lanka, click here. To read more stories involving “The Power to Play,” click here.

More on Sri Lanka
Population: 21.3 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 750,000 children and families
Did You Know?: Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of rubber. The rubber industry took hold in the country in the late 1800s, when the island was known as Ceylon and was ruled by the British.

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