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26 November

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 11 months ago

Saturday 26 November

Seeniyagama Periliya Camp

Parachute Games - at last


Note: I've tried to fit the pictures to the text, and to guess which day each was taken, but there are bound to be errors - Webmaster


After breakfast John and I drive down the road to the Sunbeach Hotel to see Chaminda and collect the suitcase with the Children’s World equipment that I left here to be used in camps in March. Meet Chaminda’s wife and their beautiful month-old baby daughter. We take the suitcase back to our hotel to unpack it - it feels like Christmas!


The zip on the case is very rusty and I worry that all the contents may be rusted up, but luckily the badge machine and all the components for badge making are fine, and with a little screwdriver work and fine tuning, the machine produces its first badge. Hurrah!


I had hoped that we would also find English plastic bank bags and balloons in the suitcase, so that we could start running beanbag-makiing workshops with the children, but sadly Chaminda could not find these - he has promised to ring me on the mobile if they turn up


I spend most of the rest of the morning in the internet office, sending off the diary for this webpage and coping with all the hotmails that have come in from my English office and elsewhere - until there is a power-cut and no more can be done. A quick swim in the pool at our hotel and a very hasty lunch, and we are off to the next camp. We drive past the train memorial about 15 minutes away, and arrive in a largish area with some sheds round the side.




KidsThere are about 30 children and a lady waiting for us. I have a quick talk to the lady and we arrange where we will set up the show and the workshops. Apparently more children will be joining us later. Then we go and formally meet the children and they present us with 2 beautiful flowered garlands of frangiapani flowers. A boy of about 13 steps forward and makes a speech in English. He says that they have always lived here by the sea in Sri Lanka and that they love their country, but that one day a big wave came and that they were left with literally nothing. They are trying to rebuild their lives. He welcomes us and says they are so glad we are here with our programme and that it warms their hearts. Our hearts are certainly warmed by his speech, and we feel quite emotional. The building we are standing in front of has a small blue line painted on it at a height of about 20’. It is just marked “26 December 2004”. The land around Periliya is very flat and low-lying. The tsunami wave was obviously at least 20’ high when it entered this open yard, and I saw an area about half a mile directly inland from here, in March, where the water height was still at least 10’ - even having seen these marks, it is hard to really imagine the force of the tsunami and the destruction it wreaked here.


The children present a delightful 10-minute show for us. First some beautiful girls in saris danced whtile others sang to accompany the dance.

Then the singing girls donned straw hats and sang another medley of songs, including, surprisingly, “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”. Then a quartet of boys do a delightful drama/singing piece. We can’t understand the words, but they have lovely voices and they present themselves wtih great confidence and charm. We enjoy their show very much and applaud and thank them.





It is time to set all our stuff up. Luckily the building with the Tsunami line is casting shade onto part of the yard, and we use this shady space to set up our show. We put the badge-making and drawing workshops in two adjoining shacks that have desks. And, joy of joys, while all this is being set up, instead of just playing ball games, we are able to bring out THE PARACHUTE GAMES! We now have one of our 9 metre parachutes with us (sent down by bus yesterday to us, having been rescued from the Playbus the moment it got through Customs - hopefully it will be joined by its mates and other equipnent very soon!) The parachute is made of segments all the colours of the rainbow, and as we unfurl it from its bag, we ask all the children to take a bit of the edge in their hands, and we land up in a big circle all holding part of the perimeter of the parachute. The children are very excited, and so, it has to be said, are we! Shane translates while Paddy gives instructions. First we get the children to practise shaking the parachute hard, and then stopping, then shaking, then stopping. Next we all crouch down on the ground, then stand up tall, lifting our arms up high as we go. The parachute balloons up into the air above us, and we all take two steps inwards, looking up at the beautiful colours. After several minutes of this we make the” igloo” - once the children have the parachute up high with their arms heaven-stretched, they bring their portion down behind their backs and then sit on it, with their bottoms securing it to the ground. They are thus encased in a huge colourful igloo and can sway from side to side. This looks extraordinary from outside, and is the greatest possible fun inside, but in this climate it is very hot and un-icy, and one can’t remain in there too long.


We would have liked to play “Cat and Mouse” next, but the ground is really too hard and lumpy for the children to move fast on their knees, so we go on to that perrennial favourite - Parachute Football. Half the perimeter children are one football team (Arsenal seems to be top favourite) and half are another (generally Manchester United, we find). We throw a ball onto the parachute and everyone shakes and shakes and shakes, and the ball flies around the pitch. If the ball goes off one end, it’s a goal for the other end, and vice versa. The children would have been happy to play this for literally hours, but in this heat it is very hard going, so we stop after about 20 minutes and start the show.




Charlie and Jo’s different acts, a melange of clowning, juggling and magic, really are getting better and better every day, and the children really enjoy it. During the interval all the workshops go well, especially the wonderful new addition of the badge-making. The children are really “chuffed” with the badges, and wear them with pride! On to the second half of the show with all its silliness and then I make a formalish speech and present the 30 odd children who performed for us with signed Certificates of Merit and present the nice lady with a wodge of paper and lots of pastel crayons so that they can go on doing lovely drawings like they did in the workshops today.


While we pack up the van, John and Natalie run another quick parachute games session. A very hot afternoon, but a very successful one. We head back to Sunil’s Hotel in Hikkaduwa and have a splash in the pool and a quick drink. The others all go out to dinner at a place down the road, butl I’m feeling really tired, and not very hungry and decide to have a quiet, good-for-the-diet evening in my room.


27 November

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