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15 November 2005

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 3 months ago


The Start of the Journey


After weeks of planning and preparation, we are eventually ready - today we set off on our journey to Sri Lanka!


The spinning plates and bubble aeroplanes arrived at last this morning, just in the nick of time - so we stuff them into the last available crannies in suitcases, along wtih several sets of Children’s World facepaints (as the Tear Drop Relief facepaints have not arrived) and sit on the lids of all the cases to close them. Our friend Beave arrives to collect us, and at 11.00 a.m. (on time to the second, amazingly!) Paddy, Charlie and I set off on our drive to Heathrow.


What? Who? Why?


What, you may ask, are we doing stuffing spinning plates, bubble aeroplanes and facepaints into suitcases, and why are we taking them to Sri Lanka? Well, we are “Children’s World International”, and we are setting off on an amazing journey to Sri Lanka to work there, on the Teardrop Relief Playbus, visiting camps and temporary shelters along the South Western and Southern coasts of the island - we will be running performances, workshops and games for children who have been affected by the Tsunami. (Full details of this Sri Lankan Tour and the following Thai Tour can be found by clicking on the “Tsunami Tour” button on this website.)


“We” is me, Arabella Churchill, the Director of Children’s World and its Sister Charity Children’s World International, and Paddy Hill and Charlie Miller, Children’s World’s Chief Workshop Leaders. We three arrive at Heathrow in plenty of time, and meet up near the Royal Jordanian check-in desk with Jo Galbraith, the performer who is coming with us, along with her 5-year old son Rooben, and with Holly Whitmore, a Dartington drama student who is splendidly paying her own way as a CWI volunteer.


Getting the equipment on board


The bulk of the equipment we will be using in Sri Lanka - badge machine and cutter, thousands of badge components, parachutes for large-scale games, art equipmnent, etc.) has been sent on ahead, shipped in the Teardrop Relief Playbus on its boatride to Colombo - it arrived there on 10 November, and should have cleared Customs by the time we get there. But we are still heavily laden with props, costumes, sound equipment, etc. Luckily everybody has been very good about packing lightly with their personal luggage, so we heave a huge sigh of relief as our 11 bits of luggage, including a light but awkward hoola hoop, are all deemed to fit inside our total 120 kilo baggage allowance and disappear from our sight. We prance off, pretending that our hand luggage is extremely light - although actually each piece weighs far more than the allowance of 6 kilos per person!


Panic at departure gate 29


So relieved are we by the luggage all getting through, and so lulled by the fact that the sign for our flight to Amman says “Waiting”, that we go and have some coffee. This must have taken longer than we thought, for when we then set off towards the departure gates, making only brief stops in Duty Free, we (now all separated) realise that we must have been a bit too laid-back about our departure. I hear "Will passengers Paddy Hill and Charlie Miller come immediately to Gate 29 as their flight is leaving NOW!" Eek - I run towards the departure gates, scuttle along the moving walkways dragging my (thankfully very good-quality and obedient) hand-luggage behind me. Gate 29 is miles away! Puffing and panting, I eventually reach the Gate to be greeted by some very dour Royal Jordanian air crew. I apologise profusely. Apparently Jo and Rooben are on board, but there is no sign of the 3 others - and the crew are threatening to take off! I borrow the air crew’s mobile phone and ring Paddy and Charlie - “Run”, I shout, and run they do, arriving with sweat dropping off their brows. Luckily Paddy has Holly’s number - so we ring her too - she’s got distracted, buying a present for her mum, and then lost, but she eventually sees a Departures Gates sign - “Run!” we all yell in unison into the phone, as we can see that the air crew really mean business - they are determined to load Paddy and Charlie and me onto the plane. “We can’t leave Holly behind”, I plead, refusing to board till Holly arrives, “She’s young and it’s her first trip to the East, and we’re working with children affected by the Tsunami!” This cuts no ice whatsover, and I am bundled onto the plane, and sit there twitching, crossing my fingers and praying. What will Holly’s parents say if I lose her before we even take off?! Thank goodness Holly’s head appears at the top of aisle, and we are all aboard. During the time we have been waiting for Holly, Jo has added considerable comic, if uncomfortable, diversion by having her tea flask leak into the overhead locker and drip in a continuous flow onto the head of a very smart businessman in the row in front of her. More profuse apologies - we’ll be grovelling wrecks by the time we get to Colombo!


We take off, eat our dinner and try to get some sleep before landing in Amman (the capital of Jordan, where there have been bombs killing 56 earlier this week) at 23.35.

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16 November

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