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25 January

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 12 months ago

Wednesday 25 January

Working with Grass Roots


I wake up very early and do a lot of work on my laptop, with Haggis grumbling sleepily, "Can't you type more quietly?." until it is light enough to work outside on our tiny verandah. It is really pretty here, especially so first thing in the morning, before it gets hot, and everything is slightly damp and feels very fresh - from my verandah I can see about 10 other tiny thatched wooden bungalows, in a delightful garden setting (there are lots more bungalows, but they are out of sight) There are masses of beautiful trees and shrubs and a little "sala" in the middle of the grass with a table and chairs, also thatched. The owner really loves plants and almost every day I see him planting new things - in a few months it will be a jungle, but a beautiful jungle!


Glad we're here




Everybody happyI'm really glad we stayed up here in Khao Lak - the accommodation is very good value (only £10 per night per double hut, including breakfast) and, though very basic, it is really nice - the staff are all very kind to us, opening up the lock-up room at any time with graciousness if we need to get at our equipment, the breakfasts are large and the atmosphere very pleasant. The beach is near - though I have to say I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have actually swum in the sea on Tour days, as there just always seems to be so much work of one sort or another to do - and there are masses of birds around, making lovely noises, especially first thing in the mornings. We are very lucky to be able to live so nicely but so cheaply - good for the CWI budget and good for the soul. It was far more sensible to stay up here in Khao Lak - there is a real need up here, and we have managed to fill all our dates and have almost certainly exceeded my hoped-for figure of children we were going to work with. I'll work the figures out properly soon, but I think they will be gratifyingly high.


Early morning emails


There are various emails from England that I HAVE to get access to and respond to this morning before we set off for work, so last night I bribed the internet office to open at 7.30 rather than their usual 9.00 am. I'm not entirely certain they understood, or are truly willing, so I set off there not 100% certain that they really will be open - but joy of joys, they are, and there is iced coffee in the fridge! No time for breakfast before we set off at 8.30, but Haggis gets the Bungalows to make me a sandwich for the journey, lovely man that he is.


Today we are working again with Grass Roots, a splendid organisation for Burmese children. They have 3 tiny "learning centres" - one we visited last week, in the middle of a rubber plantation, and the other two we are visiting today. Mr. Wee picks us up and we drive to the Grass Roots office, and Om, who accompanied us last week, leaps on his motorbike to lead us to the first school.


Burmese in Thailand




Crystal ball PaulThis school is up a long dirt track by another rubber plantation and has about 30 students. The building is TINY and the space around it is very restricted. Nice big space next door, fenced off with barbed wire, but apparently we can't use it. All the Burmese we have met have been absolutely lovely, but the majority are illegal immigrants and are not liked or treated well by the Thais, on the whole, which is very sad. Thank goodness that there are organisations like Grass Roots and the Tsunami Volunteer Centre, working to try to improve their conditions.


I set up the badge making in a tiny classroom and Haggis starts his juggling workshops in the dusty yard, but once I have finished the badges, he moves into the classroom, as it really is too hot in the sunshine outside. Jo, Jake and the others run their workshops in the little shade afforded by the building. We set up the show - it is the tiniest venue we have ever used, but there is not enough shade for us to do it outside. Despite the very confined space, the show is a rip-roaring success - anyone passing along the road (including the dumpling stall man, the grilled chicken man, passing ladies and their babies and several dogs come and join in the fun. There is no room for the PA inside the building, so I run the sound from the back of the songtheuw just outside the building, while blowing up modelling balloons to be made into hats and swords once the show is over.


Burmese school dinner




I get a real flash of our being war-time Ensa entertainers today - can't quite explain why - rather like "It Ain't Half Hot, Mum!"


As we pack up the show and re-load the songtheuw, the children are served their lunch and we are glad to see that again they receive a large, tasty and well-balanced meal.


Technical difficulties


Hula circle




We go to a roadside Muslim buffet restaurant for a quick lunch 400 Baht (about £6.00) for 9 adults and 2 children - can't be bad! Actually, I am so hot, I don't eat - just drink about a litre of water and then a litre of iced coffee. Then it's on up the road to the second Burmese school. This building is a little larger for the 50 pupils. I run badge-making in a small classroom and luckily there is lots of shady space outside for the others to run their workshops. We are in a rush today, so we have broken into 2 teams - Haggis, Jo, Martha and I run workshops the moment we arrive, and Trent, Jake and Paul set up the show. I just finish making badges as the show is due to start. The PA looks fine, with the microphone set up and everything, so I assume all is well - but when Haggis demands music for his hat routine, and I press track 2 for Frank Sinatra's "I get a kick out of you", absolutely nothing happens. The power is coming into the amp and into the cd, but not a squeak is coming out. Luckily Trent improvises and plays live music for the routine. I eventually discover that no one has put in the red and white jacks that go between the amp and the cd to make it work (I speak as a technophobe - I don't know HOW this works - I just know it has to be done!) Remedy that, and we have cd tracks ready for Daisy's "Life could be a dream" club-swinging routine, and for Haggis's club juggling routine to the "Pied Piper" - phew! (All the rest of the music for the other acts is live now - great for the show, but boring for me!) I have to get back to the internet office for some important stuff, so once track 6, the Pied Piper has been turned off, Mr. Wee drives me the 15 minutes back to the internet office and leaves me there before returning to collect the others from the second Burmese School.


The sound system stays in Thailand


We have decided to leave our sound system and one parachute with Grass Roots when we leave as these Burmese schools are far more poorly equipped than the Thai schools.


Once I have finished emailing, Haggis and I have a meeting with El about tomorrow's schools, and then we go and have a wonderful one hour massage each before having a yummy dinner and playing Carcassonne. We have got quite good at this wonderful board game and are very competitive about it, but competitive in a good-natured way nowadays (which it wasn't always!), and it is a lot of fun. Jess, who is a demon player, had better look out as Haggis and I have got much better at it since we started playing again this week!


El (inexplicably spelt Aew!), who runs the internet office next to our bungalow, has asked us to work in a couple of schools in Ban Yao and Takupah, where she used to be a teacher, tomorrow - we will be doing one show at the school at Ban Yao in the morning, and two shows at the school in Takupah - it's going to be a long day, so we go to bed earlyish.


26 January

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