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22 November

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 5 months ago

Tuesday 22nd November


Balapitiya Anuragamodara Camp

I wake early after a good sleep and write up a brief diary of Monday's camp and, after a delicious breakfast of pineapple and papaya, head off with Paddy to an internet office in town, to send the diary and pictures off to England, and also check in with hotmail to see if there is anything happening in England that we need to deal with. We travel in a tuk-tuk as it is raining very solidly.




Jo and Holly go shopping for more bits and pieces we need, and Shane, our lovely Sri Lankan translater, heads off with Lal, the nice new driver of the 3rd van, to do a 'recce' at the camps we will be going to later today and tomorrow, as we are concerned as to whether there is any covered space we can perform and work with the children under if this rain keeps up.


We were so lucky to be able to move into the school building next to Korawella-Pandura Camp on Monday when it rained - if it had rained on Sunday at the Beach/Coconut Grove camp, where there was no communal shelter at all, we would just have had to get back into the vans and leave. So we are very keen to suss out what shelter, if any, is available at future camps, and set up wet-weather contingency plans where we can - you would think that this would all have been worked out before we arrived, but hey!


Computer trouble


Frustration for Paddy at the internet office, as the only computer that will accept the disc with the photos on won't actually do anything with them - it certainly isn't prepared to send them off by email for us! Oh well, we will just have to try and find another internet office tomorrow - though I have to say, I didn't see one on the way through town. At least we manage to send off the brief text diary for yesterday and check in with my hotmail.


Floods - what floods? Oh, those floods!


Quick coffee back at the hotel before leaving for Balapitiya Anuragamodara Camp, when suddenly Paddy receives a phone call from Aruni saying that Jerry (the head of Impakt) says there is likelihood of flooding and he doesn't want us to go to the camp this afternoon and that they may have to recall us to Colombo! This seems ridiculous to us, as Shane has now inspected today's camp and it seems perfectly safe, and the rain has stopped and the sky is definitely becoming a bit lighter and brighter.


We make phone calls and manage to get some clarity on the matter, and discover that there has indeed been quite bad flooding in the Colombo and Matara areas, and it is possible that Impakt may need one or two of the 3 vans we are travelling with back in Colombo if the situation gets worse, so that they can use them for direct relief aid. We could now actually manage with 2 vans, so offer the third one back, but are told it is not needed currently. So that was a bit of a storm in a teacup and over-reaction on someone's part!


I think we need to get a really good map to look at rivers, etc., and we need to keep a good ear open to the weather forecasts, but there doesn't currently seem to be any flood danger down where we are. We will assess the situation day by day (or if necessary hour by hour), but there seems to be no reason why we should change our itinerary for now. If Impakt need vans back, then we will just hire more down here if necessary. (And hopefully, one day, the Playbus will arrive - though we are slightly giving up hope!)


Off to the camp


So we set off to the camp (a little late, as the English volunteer contingent had gone out to lunch, omitting to take into account quite how long it takes to order lunch and pay for it in this country, even if you eat if fast!) We drive about 15 minutes to the Camp, which is directly on the main road. There is a smallish open space available for us to work in, and 2 small buildings - better than nothing - they will at least provide some shelter and enable us to continue working with the children if it rains.


We are lucky - the weather continues to brighten, though there is no sign of the sun. We play catching games and then go straight into the chanting/copying exercise and then Charlie appears, garish as always, whistling loudly in one of the windows of the hut, and the show starts. Jo and Charlie are getting better at their acts each day and the children love it. Roo is a star as the walking suitcase and the rock-lifter, and Paddy is a wonderful stooge-cum-straight man. (We will try to put photos on the website of the show act by act, so that people reading the web can actually see what is happening, and understand what I am talking about in the diary - hope to sort this out on Thursday, our day off.)


At the end of the first half of the show, we run drawing workshops in one of the huts and facepainting in the other, with plate spinning and ribbon twirling in the main outdoor area.


We long for our equipment


Goodness, how we are longing to get our mitts on all our equipment that is on the Playbus. Eshan of Teardrop Relief seemed so sure that he would have no problems getting the Teardrop Relief bus and all its contents (both Children's World International's and Teardrop's) through Customs. The bus actually arrived in Colomb on its boat from England on 10 November, and Eshan has been working on getting it through Customs ever since - it is now 22 November - 12 days and still no success! We are now on our 4th day of touring with virtually no equipment - only what we brought in our own luggage and what we have been able to source here. We long for the badge machine and badge components, the bankbags and balloons to make beanbags, the clay and all the art and craft materials, the inflatable bouncy castle, etc., etc. - but MOST of all we long for our wonderful parachutes. When I was in Sri Lanka in the camps in March, the parachute games were the most enormous success, and we long to use them now.


If we had had the slightest inkling that the parachutes wouldn't be immediately available to us when we got here, we would have brought them in our personal luggage on the plane. We are so limited in what we can do with the children now - having said that, even the small amoiunt we can do with the limited equipment we have is enormously appreciated, and really needed in the camps. The children are very needy, and are just so pleased that people are coming to play with them. It cheers them up enormously, and seeing their children happy cheers up the parents, and so a good cycle starts - or that is the hope!


Ten drunken men


Having said that, we are faced with a different problem in today's camp - there were at least 10 men who were very drunk, 2 fairly spectacularly so, who kept trying to get involved and getting in the way and upsetting us all. Drinking has never been a major problem in Sri Lanka prior to the Tsunami as far as we know, but apparently drunkeness in the camps is becoming more and more prevalent and serious, which is a sure sign of depression and low morale. It must be incredibly depressing living in a camp, and not knowing when, or if, things are going to get any better, and we try not to place any 'blame' or be judgmental, but the drunkenness makes for an uncomfortable afternoon, and at 5.30 when we see some of the young English volunteers being crowded by some of the drunken men, we decide to close the show a bit early and pack up. It makes the likelihood of running the evening film shows in the camps even more remote (they can't happen anyway until we have the bus and the projection equipment )- we would certainly have to assess each camp individually before allowing our staff to work there in the evenings, after dark.)


Early to bed


Back to the hotel - rather depressed by the alcohol situation in the camp, but try to cheer ourselves up by reminding ourselves that the children had an excellent time regardless. A very nice Sri Lankan buffet dinner tonight, which even Paddy, with his conservative tastes, enjoys. I head to bed about 8.30 to write up a bit of diary before falling asleep. Although we are not working particularly long hours, we are all pretty tired. I suppose it's the heat mostly, and the stress and worries about equipment, etc. doesn't help.


A gleam of light in the night


I wake suddenly at 3.00 am and sit bolt upright, realising that when I was here in March, I left a Children's World parachute here to be used in the camps. When we left we had the parachute delivered to Geoffrey Dobbs of Adopt Sri Lanka, so that he could look at the parachute, see the material that was used and see how it was made. Adopt Sri Lanka is a wonderful organisation that Geoffrey set up after the Tsunami, and they have done a great deal of rebuilding of houses and boats, as well as many other schemes including getting women back to work. He has a team of tailoresses, and I had a meeting with him in March to discuss the possibility of the tailoresses making parachutes for us in the future, so that we could give to camp leaders to encourage games in the camps. Anyway we sent the parachute to him, and then MC, the administrator of the Harf Foundation (another wonderful local charitable organisation, set up by Neil Butler) was going to collect the parachute after I had left, and make sure it was used in camps. It just might be possible for us to borrow the parachute back until the Playbus and all our equipment is liberated from Customs in Colombo. I realise that there might also be one of oiur badge machines, badge components and lots of bank bags and balloons down at the Harf Founation in Hikkaduwa if they haven't used them all up. Part of me hopes that they have all already been put to good use in the camps, but part of me is very excited that we may actually be able to get our hands on some equipment. I write large notes on my hand so that I won't forget this magical night-time realisation and catch a few more hours sleep.


November 23

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