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25 November

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 3 months ago

Friday 25th November

Hikkaduwa Akurala Camp

The bus is to be released!

 

Wake early to do diary and finish BBC application notes, and after breakfast Paddy and I head into town to find an internet office.

 

Gathering equipment

Sunbeach HotelWe drop in on Chaminda at Sunbeach Hotel on the way, to see if he has found any of the equipment I left with the Hikkaduwa Area Relief Foundation in March - Hurrah, he has! He says he has found a suitcase with what he thinks is a badge machine, some badge components and some balloons. Where we have balloons, we usually have plastic bank bags, which would mean that we will be able to make bean bags which would be great! Chaminda says he will bring them to Sunbeach tomorrow morning, so we can pick them up. Hopefully the badge machine will be in working condition! It rather sounds as though as though the things were never used in camps at all - as long as they haven't got too damp, we will certainly be better equipped for Saturday's camp session - what a relief. Chaminda hasn't been able to find the parachute however - I think it must still be with Geoffrey Dobbs in Galle - I will ring him later today and see if he can find it.

 

SUNBEACH HOTEL, IN HIKKADUWA, OWNED BY NEIL BUTLER OF THE HARF FOUNDATION, WHERE PEAT AND I STAYED IN MARCH 05, AND WHERE (JOY OF JOYS!) WE FOUND THE BADGE MACHINE I HAD LEFT IN MARCH

 

Messages please

 

We head on to the Internet Office in good heart and send the diary for the last few days as well as lots of great photographs off to David Parsons in England. Have a quick look at the web and he has done it really well - there is a message board, and we find cheering messages from Paddy's mum and from Rachel, which is great. We love getting messages, so if you are reading this, do send us one please! Messages

 

The news arrives

 

Paddy sends our complicated BBC application notes off to my wonderful right hand Chris in our Glastonbury office on one computer, while I start to tackle the incoming emails that need to be dealt with on another. He is in the downstairs office and I am one flight up. Suddenly I hear Paddy's excited voice coming up the stairs, saying into the mobile phone, "Hold on Eshan, I'll pass you to Bella..." Can it be, can it possibly, possibly, possibly be that Eshan has at last managed to liberate the buses and all our equipment from Customs? Yes, it is true. Thank goodness! A very relieved-sounding Eshan confirms that at last everything is through Customs - fandabbydoozie! What a relief after all this time! I had set about ordering new equipment from England, and was plagueing Sri Lankan Airlines to fly it out to us, and now this won't be necessary!

 

The bus will still have to be registered, but hopefully it will be with us by Sunday for unpacking and repacking and we should be able to tour with it on Monday. Eshan swears that he will get one or two of the parachutes out of the bus and send them down with the Impakt weekend volunteers who are coming down to join us for sessions tomorrow, Saturday. It will be wonderful to have a parachute with us - the children will absolutely adore the games.

 

Belt and braces

 

Mind you, we are now used to things not going entirely smoothly in Sri Lanka, so I will still collect the suitcase of equipment from Sunbeach and ascertain whether Geoffrey has the parachute - we will be in Galle for a session on Sunday morning, and could collect it then.

 

Paddy returns to the hotel and I spend another hour doing emails to the English office, then I change some more travellers cheques and head back to the hotel. Meet up with Holly, Jane and Lee and have a quick lunch with them at a little restaurant over the road, before we set out at 2.15 for a local camp.

 

A tiny village

 

We drive about 15 minutes northwards and arrive at a tiny village. There is only a very small space to perform in and to run the plate-spinning, ribbon-twirling and new hoola hoops workshops in - right in front of a family's house, but they don't seem to mind that we are right in their front yard, luckily. We set up the face-painting and drawing workshops in a nearby shack and start to set the show - but there seems to be a huge lack of children. Have we come to the right place? Shane assures me we have. We put on the sound system with some jolly music to lure them to us, and slowly we gather about 60 children, quite a few older teenagers and lots of adults, particularly mothers.

 

Paint transforms her into a princessWe start the show and it goes really well. The children are a quiet bunch, but really nice and beautifully behaved. The mothers pay them a lot of attention and help out a lot in the drawing workshop. Some wonderful painted faces start emerging - tigers and princesses with tiaras, pirates and butterflies and bees. I suddenly realise that we don't have a mirror for the children to see their faces in! I had simply assumed we had one and that it was being used - I've got a small plastic one we can use for tomorrow, and then we must find a bigger, better one.

 

THE CHILDREN LOVE THE TIARA/CROWN FACE PAINTING!

 

Counting sweets

 

Juggling with rocksThe hoola hoops, that Jo has so resourcefully created from stuff she found at a hardware shop, are pretty good, though a couple keep breaking. Lucky we had some duct tape with us and were able to bind the broken ones up - must buy some more tape tomorrow! The children love the hoola hoops and get pretty good at hula-ing them, and some of the mothers have a go too, collapsing in hysterical giggles when they can't do it. Some of the older boys pick up the plate-spinning really well and do a demonstration before the second half of our show. Natalie has been given a bag of sweets by a Swiss volunteer who was leaving, and wants to hand them out - there are 57 sweets, so we all discreetly do head-counts, and reckon we are just OK (nothing would be worse than having not quite enough to go round all the children!), and Natalie and Lee hand them out while Shane and I do our bit of talking to the children about what is going on. Thank heavens, the sweets JUST stretch round all the children - though of course they immediately add to the litter problem as wrappers are dropped on the ground. (Here, as everywhere, there is a lot of litter. There are a couple of little lakes/swamps in this camp - ideal breeding- grounds for mosquitoes - and these are full of hideous rubbish.)

 

PADDY AND "DAISY" PASSING THE "HEAVY" "ROCKS" BETWEEN THEM WITH EXTRAORDINARY FACILITY!

(In fact they are made of polystyrine and are very light!)

 

Gifts in return

 

About 4.30 it looks as though it may rain again, but we are in luck and the rain keeps off for us until we leave at about 6.00. At the end of the show a man, who had been telling Jo his tsunami story, shinned up a coconut tree (cutting his foot in the process, so we were able to give our first aid box its first real task) and brought down 11 coconuts. He and another man thwacked off their tops and gave them to us to drink - they were delicious and just what we needed. We were really touched by this gesture - these people have so little, but we had given them something and they wanted to give us something in return. We and they all feel warm and giving as a result, and there is really quite a euphoric atmosphere as we say our goodbyes.

 

Beware dengue fever

 

A quick dip in the pool back at the hotel. We hear that one of the Impakt volunteers who was working in Hikkaduwa has gone down with dengue fever, poor thing. As with malaria you catch it via a mosquito bite. It causes really bad flu symptoms and sometimes a bit worse - apparently she will need 2 weeks of bed and then 4 weeks of rest before working again. You can't be inoculated against it - all you can do really is try to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and we all slathe ourselves in mosquito repellant even more than usual this evening!

 

Rest and refreshment

 

The others want to go to a beach restaurant for dinner, but Paddy, Charlie and I feel tired and opt for going over the road to the restaurant where I had lunch. We were very glad we did as the rain then poured down for 2 hours, bouncing up off the adjacent road - this doesn't stop the speed of the vehicles however, which thundered past all the time. I have chicken fried rice and a tomato and onion salad and Paddy and Charlie have grilled chicken and chips. We share 3 different pancakes for pudding - one coconut, one banana and one pineapple, all slathered with thick, dark honey. Delicious, but not too good for my diet! (I've lost a stone in weight in preparation for this trip and feel a great deal better for it. It makes the heat far easier to bear. I am determined to keep this weight off, and ideally lose some more - this should become even easier in Thailand where the food is less fatty.) All this plus a beer apiece and a big bottle of water comes to 1,800 rupees - about £3.50 each.

 

To bed, pleased with the day - a lovely session this afternoon - really heart-warming. My detective work has paid off and we will have some badge equipment and beanbag equipment from Sunbeach for tomorrow's session, and hopefully one or two parachutes from the bus will arrive as well. Best of all the playbus and all the equipment has been liberated and we should have the bus with us fairly soon. Definitely better late than never!

 

We need more helpers

 

Of course by the time the bus and equpment arrives, we are going to be completely denuded of helpers, as Jane and Lee will be leaving us after the Sunday morning session for children with special needs in Galle. We should have a few Impakt weekend volunteers with us tomorrow and the day after, but they won't be coming next weekend as they all have a wedding to go to, and also we will be based down at Tissa, which is really too long a drive from Colombo for it to be worth their coming. So now is the time for Eshan to hire the future bus team members, so that they have a chance to get trained up by us before we leave on 8th December. I said this to him on the phone today, and do hope that he will organise permanent staff soon. Fingers crossed!

 

Apparently 30 of the children at the Seeniyagama camp we are visiting tomorrow afternoon have produced a show for us that they will perform. So we want to buy them some little present - I'll see if we can find cheapish notebooks and pencils to give them, as I think that would be far better than sweets or chocolate if possible.

 

26 November

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