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17 November

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 1 month ago

THURSDAY 17 NOVEMBER

Arrival in Colombo and Some Disappointing News

 

We are met at Colombo Airport by the driver I had organised from England, and are driven for an hour and a half south, through Colombo, to the seaside suburb of Mount Lavinia.

 

Election Day

 

Today is Election Day in Sri Lanka - both the Presidential elections and the Parliamentary elections - not ideal, but we were very limited in the window of time during which we could visit Sri Lanka. (Children’s World has only just finished its Somerset and Avon drama and creative play tour for children with severe learning difficulties, and we have commitments to schools and special schools in mid-December) Although we had been warned that there might be rioting and a curfew, all seems quiet as we drive through - there are small groups of soldiers and police around polling stations, but nothing untoward is happening. We arrive at the Mount Lavinia Hotel around 8.00 am and check in. It is the most beautiful hotel on a cape overlooking 2 beaches - it used to be the home of the British Governor General of Sri Lanka. We are really grateful to the Mount Lavinia Hotel, who are giving us free rooms for the first 3 nights of our stay, so that we can rest up from our jet lag and rehearse, prepare and start our Tour in comfort. The Hotel will also hopefully be funding the running costs for the Tear Drop Relief Playbus in 2006.

 

Meeting our allies

 

At the hotel we meet up with John Holmes (a partner in the very large Clifford Chance legal firm) and his partner Natalie Bull, who both live in Dubai, and who are paying their own way, staying in Sri Lanka until the end of February. They will drive the Playbus, help us with all the workshops, and keep working with the Teardrop Relief Fund Playbus and its new Sri Lankan team when Children’s World International leaves - keeping the continuity of our training going. We are very glad to have them with us - 2 extra pairs of hands will be incredibly useful, as it seems that the number of children at each venue may be very large.

 

We also meet up with Eshan, one of Teardrop Relief’s Trustees, who I had met in London some weeks ago, and with whom I have been communicating by email ever since about all the arrangements. Over breakfast we discover the first problem - yes, the buses have arrived on the boat from England, with all the necessary equipment aboard, but they are still at the docks and have not been passed through Customs yet. We were planning to visit our first camp tomorrow, Friday 18 November, but there is no way that we will be able to use the bus, as once it has got through Customs it will have to be registered.

 

Nothing if not adaptable

 

Still, we are nothing if not adaptable, and we decide that Eshan should get the most important equipment off the Playbus in the docks on Friday morning, and that we will visit the first scheduled camp in the afternoon by van, with reduced activities. Then we are told that, because of the Election, there will be a curfew on Friday and we will not be able to work in a camp tomorrow at all. Sighs of disappointment all round - but at least we will be able to fit this camp into the last day of our Tour when we are back in the Mount Lavinia area. Hopefully the Playbus will be liberated tomorrow, Friday, and arrive at the hotel early on Saturday morning in time for us to unload, reload and organise it - and then we will be able to undertake our Saturday afternoon and evening camp visit as planned. Another day for the team to rest, prepare and rehearse could actually turn out to be a good thing, as we are still very tired from the journey.

 

Meetings, meetings - great!

 

Eshan takes us to dinner on the beach - we eat delicious fish and drink ginger beer and limejuices (there is a total ban on alcohol until Saturday in an effort to keep things calm in the country during the election.) Mohan Samarisinhe comes to see us - Mohan was instrumental in my first coming to Sri Lanka and accompanied me and a performer in March when we came to run a mini-Tour out here in March, less than 3 months after the Tsunami. It’s great to see him again and have the chance to thank him for his help in March and for putting us and Teardrop Relief together. A delightful Irish Methodist minister called Lesley is with Mohan - Lesley knows a great deal about the East and North of Sri Lanka, having worked there for years. CWI very much wants to undertake work with Tsunami-affected children in the East and up in Jaffna in the North, but we have been advised not to on this trip, as things are a little unstable there. Lesley gives us his phone number and says he will keep us in touch with how things are progressing there - he would love to help us set up a tour there as soon as things are more settled. A very nice man, and a very useful contact.

 

We also meet Manisha, another Teardrop Trustee.

 

Charlie, Jo, Roo and Holly have all had a bit of a sleep today, but Paddy and I have kept going as we needed to have lots of meetings with Eshan and John and Natalie. We are all still really tired and head to bed before 10.00 pm.

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18 November

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