Before getting in my morning tuk tuk on the way to the local hospice this morning in Maharagama, I took a while to soak in sunshine. I knew today would be a tough day emotionally but I had prepared well for it, spending the last month filling my cup and gaining emotional strength. I had arranged for the same driver from the day before to get me early in the morning. One thing I have learned traveling is the greatest way to show your appreciation for excellent service is to be a repeat customer. This goes a long way as far as recognizing the locals who are working hard. Leslie, a Sri Lankan gentleman in his 50’s, showed up smiling and full of cheer to take me to go “care for someone.” I couldn’t help but think I hope this would be the case today, immediately deciding no matter what I saw I would smile through it and bring light to the experience. “Madame I am so happy to drive you today, I want to see the Cancer Hospital too….” We chatted about family most of the way riding along in his candy red tuk tuk. He shared how proud he is to be a grandfather and have a daughter at university. Leslie reconfirmed my belief that family is the true heart of this country.
I showed up just before 9am and walked past the front garden area, shaded in mature willowing trees where an elderly unshaven man in a wheel chair was slumped over playing his handheld radio at full volume listening to what I believe was the morning news. He looked up as I passed and smiled welcoming me to his home. I noticed immediately, like most things in Sri Lanka, the facility had an open-air concept, with no glass windows or walls to keep the mosquitos and outside world out. The words “Shantha Sevana Hospice” hung above the wide doorway in big white letters, letting me know I had arrived.