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17 January

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 10 months ago

Tuesday 17 January

NAM KEM

 

Tsunami victims

 

Today we are going to work at Nam Kem School. The area around Nam Kem was the hardest hit in the whole of Thailand - figures vary, but it seems clear that at least 1,300 Thais died here and at least 1,300 Burmese - more than a quarter of the population of 10,000 - and I understand that many more may be "missing". There was also huge destruction of buildings and businesses. We particularly wanted to visit this area as it suffered so much. I have just finished reading a fascinating book about the area and the troubles it has experienced over the years and during and since the Tsunami. Will give details of the book next time I write, but Jo is reading it down on the beach right now....

 

Sulky teens

 

THIS PICTURE IS ACTUALLY OF THE TINY BURMESE SCHOOL IN THE RUBBER PLANTATION THAT WE WORKED AT YESTERDAY - FOR SOME REASON WE DON'T SEEM TO HAVE ANY PICTURES OF NAM KEM SCHOOL (MAYBE BECAUSE I WAS RUSHING AROUND EVEN MORE THAN USUAL AS WE HAD POWER PROBLEMS AND BADGE PROBLEMS - PERHAPS I JUST DIDN'T TAKE ANY - SORRY!)

 

Burmese schoolThe new school they have built in Nam Kem is huge, considering there are only 489 students. A lot of construction work is going on. It all feels pretty disorganised and we hope that the day will run smoothly. Without Somchai or any other translator, there is not a lot we can do to smooth the way - we just have to press on! Andaman TV ring to say they will be arriving at about 11.00. The first group of students arrive for parachute games and workshops - many of them are over 16 and do not seem too keen on playing parachute games at all, and sit on the stage in rather sulky mode, but we manage to get a spirited game of parachute football going with some of the slightly younger children. We start the workshops early and they go pretty well considering the age of the students - one or two of the boys get the juggling well and 3 of the boys pick up the diabolo really well. They turn up their noses at the badges to start with, but once a few children have made really good colourful badges, they really see what fun it is - there were only meant to be 60 children, but it feels more like 80, and many of them must be coming back for second badges without me realising, as suddenly I am running out of badge centres. I hurriedly stash 60 badge centres for the afternoon workshop and press on - but it is slow going as I suddenly realise that we have finished the huge bag of pinned backs that Jess created while she was here, so I am having to pin badges to the backs as we go. Still we just get through it all in time for the show.

 

Disconnected

 

THIS PICTURE IS ALSO FROM YESTERDAY'S VISIT TO THE BURMESE SCHOOL IN THE RUBBER PLANTATION, AND SHOWS THE CHILDREN PLATE-SPINNING AND RIBBON-TWIRLING IN THE SHADE OF THE RUBBER TREES

 

Burmese childrenMore children arrive and we start the show. I'm on the sound desk as usual and things start just fine. The new suitcase routine goes well, Haqggis and Geoffrey do their normal silliness and then Hags does his hat routine to the strains of Frank Sinatra, Jo does her club routine and the walking suitcase with Roo, and then it is time for some more banter and horse-play from Haggis and Geoffrey. Haggis calls "Music, Geoffrey!", Geoffrey calls, "Music!" and I press Track 6 for the lively "Pied Piper" music for Haggis's club routine - and nothing happens! I rush round checking that all the plugs are in and that no wires have got disconnected - there just isn't any power at all! As far as we can tell, the power in the whole school has been cut. A lovely American man, David Johnson, who has been living out here with his wife and 3 of his daughters, teaching English at the school and running art activities as volunteers, who speaks a bit of Thai comes with me to try and help sort it out. We think the builders have turned the power off for some reason, and it doesn't seem likely that it is going to get turned on again before the show ends - hey ho! At this moment Andaman TV arrive - brilliant!

 

Very adaptable

 

Thank goodness our performers are used to working on the streets and are very adaptable - they start pulling out other material that works OK without sound, like Jo and Jake juggling clubs around children, and Haggis spinning hats on children's fingers, etc. It's fine and the children are loving it all, but it is a real pain with the TV filming going on, as the show doesn't look nearly so strong without our excellent sound track. Hey ho, hey ho, hey ho!

 

Grant, the very nice interviewer for Andaman TV, who speaks pretty good Thai tries to help us sort the power out after the show. Basically we won't need power till 2.00, but would then love to have it right through till the end of the show at 3.00. Fingers crossed!

 

TV interview

 

After lunch, Haggis and I do a quite long interview with Andaman TV and then it's back to the main hall to start the workshops again. Thank goodness I had stashed 60 badge centres this morning - but they soon run out and Paul and I are desperately cutting out more badge centres, and pinning pins into badge bits to keep up with the flow of children demanding badges (many of whom must have made 2 or 3 each - it is very difficult to argue with children about whether they have already made a badge, when you speak no Thai - it helps so much if the school sends a helpful teacher who can speak some English as then she can tell the students to pin their badge to their shirt when they have made it and I know where I am at - but no such luck today!) Andaman TV are filming the workshops and are going to film the first part of the afternoon show and this will apparently be shown on Channel 11 at about 8.45-9.00 tomorrow morning - but Grant warns us we may not be able to see it as reception is not good up here in Khao Lak.

 

Just as the show is going to start, the power goes again - grrrrrr! Rush around trying to get it sorted, but no immediate success, so the suitcase dance routine happens in absolute silence, which is bizarre to say the least! We improvise till a couple of lovely workmen arrive with an incredibly long extension lead that we can plug into - fantastic! Too late for the televising as Andaman TV have had to press on, but at least the show ends well.

 

Ours was the best

 

These children are much more needy than most others we have met on the Thai Tour - many being very opportunistic with the badges, many stuffing juggling balls into their pockets, and some very sulky - I keep reminding myself what a hard time they have gone through, and that that is probably why they are like this. David Johnson says that they must have received at least 200 "programmes" like this coming in to the school over the last 9 months that he has been there, and that the children are a bit fed up with "incomers", which is fair enough. He also said that of all the programmes he had seen, ours was the best, so that was very cheering - and it has to be said that I think in the end the children did enjoy our visit a lot. David very kindly offered to write an email saying how good he thought the programme was.

 

We thought we would like to put on a show on Saturday afternoon/evening near Nam Kem, so David kindly took us to look at a couple of possibilities. (On our way through Nam Kem, we saw 2 huge Thai fishing trawlers that had been swept inland by the tsunami and just dumped by the wave in the strangest spots.

 

Replacement housing area

 

Neither of the first two venues was ideal, but David then suggested a third place that was perfect and so we are going to do a show at the new ITV replacement housing area from 5.00 till 6.30 on Saturday. David will try to get this publicised within the school, and the nice men we talked to at the new housing will also publicise it, so hopefully we will get a large crowd. It will be a new and different show from the one we did in the school today, as Trent and Martha will be with us from this afternoon, Lee Hayes is flying in on Thursday and Jo, Jake, Hags and Paul all have new material they can use.

 

Welcome, Trent and Martha

 

Back to the bungalows, and Trent and Martha have arrived, remarkably un-jet-lagged considering they have flown all the way from Vienna to Kuala Lumpur and then on to Phuket before being driven up here. It's great to see them - Trent has his brilliant ukelele and a guitar with him and Martha has her accordian. Martha has a nice clown piece and an acro piece, and Trent has his rolla-bolla, so they will be lovely additions to the show. We are going to talk it all through tomorrow, once they have had a good sleep, and rehearse from 3.00 tomorrow afternoon in the shady part of the bungalow gardens. Dinner and early bed.

 

18 January

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