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20 November

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 1 month ago

Sunday 20 November

Nugagahawatte-Dampiyagama Camp at Wadduwa

Good session - room problems


After an early breakfast, Paddy and I go to to the Business Centre at the hotel and paste up a short diary and some photos of the session we ran yesterday at Kotelawelapure School for children from different camps in Moratuwa, and send them off to David Parsons our wonderful webmaster in Somerset. We have heard from friends that the first bit of diary (15-18 November) is up on the web site, but don't have time to look ourselves as we are rushed for time. Lovely to know that David gets it up so fast - we hope there are people out there reading it! Apparently there is a place on the website where people can leave messages, so if you are reading this, do send us a message! (It's here: Messages - Webmaster)


Room problems


Because we don't have the Playbus yet, we are apparently going to stay based in the Mount Lavinia area for an extra night tonight, Sunday, continuing to commute in the Impakt van, and then move on to stay in Ambalangoda on Monday evening after our session at Korawella-Pandura Camp. The Mount Lavinia Hotel, who have so kindly given us 6 rooms free of charge for 3 nights, to support the Tour, have been really good to us, and I don't feel I can ask them if we can have 6 rooms for one more night really - and there is no way that we can afford to pay for rooms in this beautiful hotel - so Paddy and I head out into town to search for accommodation. We find very basic rooms down the road for only 700 Sri Lankan Rupees (about £4) per double room. They are pretty dirty, but the very nice man who runs the place promises he will clean them really well for us. Book the rooms and hurry back to the big hotel to pack and check out by 11.00 am. We move our luggage down the road into our new rooms. The nice man and his wife have done a splendid cleaning job (almost an over-use of disinfectant - we have to fling all the windows open!) but we discover that in my haste to find us accommodation before check-out time at the Mount Lavinia, I hadn't checked the rooms quite as carefully as I should have done - several of the rooms have no locks, and Jo and Rooben's bed simply won't do - uneven, lumpy slats of wood on the base and a mattress only ½ inch thick. The owner offers us a room with a lock to store our things safely for the day, and promises he will get locks on the door and sort out Jo's bed while we are out at the camp.


Ready for the day's work


Hurry back to the Mount Lavinia Hotel for an interview for the Sri Lankan Leader newspaper with Eshan of Teardrop Fund and Jerry and Pam Porodo of Impakt Aid at 12.30. Pam has just disembarked from a convoluted 33 hour plane journey from Canada via Hong Kong and Bangkok and is very jet-lagged but still amazingly on the ball, and looking radiant in sapphire blue. The Impakt volunteers start arriving slowly, and eventually we manage to leave for the camp at about 1.30.

The camp from afar We drive about 45 minutes south of Mount Lavinia and then turn off and drive down a very bumpy sideroad, through a little village that has lots of wooden temporary shelters, almost to the beach. We park in a beautiful coconut grove just above the beach and have a wander, surrounded by exciited children, trying to find the most suitable spot to run the session. Very hard to find a clean,safe patch of ground as there is the most amazing amount of rubbish - I think tomorrow we will buy some rubbish bags and get the children to help us do a bit of clearing up before we start, to at least create a clean, safe audience-sitting space.


Games and a misunderstanding


 A vigorous game of footballCharlie and Jo need about 20 minutes to set up the show, so I take out 3 soft balls and a bag of about 10 small throwing balls - bad mistake - I was mobbed - literally! The children thought we were giving the balls away and every child wanted to make sure they got one! The mothers were just as bad - pushing their small child forward and pleading. Not their fault - they are used to NGO's coming and giving things away haphazardly and there not being enough. Really looking forward to having our equipment liberated from Customs so that the children will be able to make their own clay figure, their own badge, their own mask or headress and their own beanbags and keep them.


I eventually manage to pass the balls to worker or volunteer adults and they started playing ball games with the children. Tomorrow we will do this differently - about 10 adults can each have a ball in their pocket, gather 15 or so children and start playing simple throwing games to keep the children occupied while the first part of the show is set up.


No facilities, but ...


Once Charlie and Jo are ready, we bring the children back together in front of what we are euphemistically calling a stage; basically here there are no facilities at all - Jo and Charlie are treating behind the Impakt vans as the backstage area though it constantly gets invaded by children, there is no seating, no tables, no nothing - but we find a concrete area for the drawing sessions and some fallen coconut trunks for the children to sit on while they are waiting to have their faces painted.


Jo being wonderfully silly in the showPaddy does his clapping/chanting/echoing bit, which again really grabs the children's attention and then gets them chanting, 'Charlie, Charlie, Charlie....' and on comes Charlie as the clown. He really does look wonderfully silly in his garish and colourful costume and the children are immediately hooked. He does his first routines and then Jo does hers. (I will try to take photos of the shows tomorrow that demonstrate clearly the order of the show - it really is very funny and the children and the adults all love it.)






The children love having their faces paintedAfter the first part of the show, Shane, our translater, and I explain roughly what is going to happen next - but the children are so excited, I'm not sure how much they take in. We try to run the workshops in a slightly more formal way today and start well with a quarter going to Jo to plate spin and ribbon twirl, a quarter going to Paddy to do throwing and catching games and rudimentary juggling, a quarter going to draw and a quarter going to have their faces painted. Then, after 25 minutes, I swap groups over so that they are all doing different activities. This works well, but things go a bit dodgy at the 3rd changeover when the drawers decide individually and unilaterally that they would head towards face-painting rather than plate-spinning. Hey ho! At least it was more orderly than yesterday. Tomorrow we might designate a group leader for each group of children (though of course we will be far shorter staffed tomorrow as the weekend volunteers won't be with us again till next Saturday.) We then let the workshops run in a more freeform way until it looks as though it will become too chaotic, and then summon the children back to the stage area for the second part of the show. Despite having 5 people on face-painting today, the queue is always long there, and the face-painters continue painting during most of the second show until all the children have been painted. I don't think the children have ever come across face-painting before, and they really love it! A huge success!




Improvised, but hugely successful


Some talented plate-spinnersAs we don't have our main equipment yet, we are currently relying on drawing to be one of the workshops as we do at least have some A4 paper and some wax crayons. I have to say that I wasn't sure the children would be too excited about this, and was only using it really as a stop-gap measure, but it really has been very successful. The children take immense pleasure in it, and we should definitely keep this as part of the activities even when our more sophisticated equipment arrives. The plate-spinning is also hugely popular and I think we should get 15 or 20 more sets sent out if Teardrop have budget available. Our improvised ribbon sticks also go down a treat - we will buy more bamboo and ribbon today and make some more quickly before today's session.




JugglingThe second half of the show goes down really well - some of the adults are amazed by Jo's magic tricks, and everyone is hysterical with laughter when Paddy, Charlie and Jo do their silly chicken dance with rubber gloves on their heads! Goodbyes, packing up and leave. There must have been about 160 children and virtually as many adults with us for the whole session - lots of very happy faces! It's great that so many adults come along with the children. Hopefully the idea of 'play' will catch on and some of the adults might copy some of the things we do. While our main aim is to bring the smiles back to the children's faces, making the adults happy too is wonderful. Seeing their children smile and laugh really cheers the adults up, and I am more convinced than ever that performance, participation and fun can really help morale in the camps. Lots of adults came up and said how wonderful it was that we had come. How glad I am that the Playbus will be an ongoing project and be able to continue to visit all these camps regularly.




World cooking


We drive back to our new, rather seedy hotel and have a quick wash and then Eshan drives us into Colombo and takes us for a drink at the Galle Face Hotel (like the Mount Lavinia Hotel, a wonderful Colonial building). We sit outside surrounded by palm trees decked in silver lights and stare at the beautiful hotel with its wonderful verandah. The alcohol curfew is still in place to keep things calm after the election, so no beer, but we are all becoming very fond of lime soda! Then Eshan takes us to an amazing 'Food Court' where you can choose your own meal from a dozen different kitchens of many nationalities. Jo goes for Indian Vegetarian, Holly for Italian, Charlie for Malaysian, Eshan for Korean, me for Sri Lankan (including lots of a most delicious spinach-like vegetable) and Rooben and Paddy for Kentucky Fried Chicken. We all share 2 delicious pavlovas for pudding. About £2 each, and very good. Back to our hotel and straight to bed.


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21 November

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