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27 November

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 9 months ago

Sunday 27 November

Senehasa Resource Centre

for children with disability

at Kithulampitya, near Galle

"Everyone is so happy!"

 

I get up about 5.00 am to write up yesterday’s diary and pack, and we all meet up for breakfast at 7.30. I sort out all our bills, and we manage to load the vans (goodness knows how the equipment and the luggage is now fitting into 2 vans, but it is, praise be!) and leave by 8.30 on our way to Galle. It’s lucky we left nice and early, as we get lost again and again. We know it’s a lane off to the left, but there are lots of them, and we drive down quite a few before we eventually hit the right place.

 

PADDY TURNING DAISY'S HEAD 360 DEGREES WITH THE BUCKET OF DEATH!

 

It’s an excellent little resource centre for children with special needs (mostly children with Down’s Syndrome and children with cerebral palsy, though a few with hearing and sight problems). They have more than 400 children registered on their books, but lack of therapists mean that most children only get sessions once every 2 or 4 weeks, which is very sad. When we arrive there are probably only about 30 children, mostly very young, with disabilities, with their mothers and a few able siblings.

 

There is very little space available - we are going to do our show on a slightly raised entrance way to the main building, and the audience are going to sit in the adjacent shaded area. There simply isn’t space to run the parachute games, so we decide to give them a miss. We are told that many more children will be coming soon - they will be a bit late as they are sitting their Sunday School examinations! We set up badge making in an indoor room, and that is an immediate success. Indeed John and Jane are virtually mobbed. I try and hand out blank paper bits and pentels down the corridor, and organise the resource centre staff to take the drawn badge middles down to John and then deliver the finished badges to the children.

This sort of works at this stage.

 

RIGHT: ROO AND THE OTHER CHILDREN WATCH WITH FASCINATION TO SEE WHAT CHARLIE HAS IN HIS SUITCASE OF TRICKS? HAS HE REALLY GOT A TIGER IN THERE?

 

BELOW: JOHN DOING STERLING WORK ON THE BADGE MACHINE WHILE BEING BESEIGED - ME TO THE RIGHT, THINKING "HOW CAN WE ORGANISE THIS BETTER?"

 

ClowningMore and more children and parents slowly arrive and by the time we start the show there are at least 100 children and 100 adults, though this rises over the next hour as children and parents continue to arrive on foot and by tuk tuk. Several sweet little orphanage groups arrive, with hankies neatly pinned to their shirts, and we are running out of shady space but somehow they all fit in and most of the show is performed to an audience of at least 300.

 

Badge makingAs there is no room for parachute games, we decide to run the two halves of the show together. We are told that some families are going to need to leave at 12.00, so we say that that was the show, and that anyone who wants to stay on for a bit can make a badge if they didn’t make one before, or join in the plate-spinning or ribbon-twirling, or just watch the fun. Nobody appears to leave at all, and there’s a huge run towrds the badge-making room. By the time I fight my way through, poor John and Jane are completely beseiged - again I try to set up people drawing their badge centres in different places and then the resource centre staff taking the finished middles to the badge machine and then delivering to the children whose names are written on them - but this is easier said than done, and things are chaotic to say the least! The plate-spinning and ribbon-twirling is pretty chaotic too, but every time I vaguely apologise for the chaos, the centre staff say, “But it’s wonderful - everyone is so happy!” The resource centre staff feed us proper chocolate cake and give us Sprite and Coca Cola, which is very welcome as we had breakfast so early. I keep battling up and down the passage trying to facilitate the badge-making process, namaste-ing as I go, and everyone is charming about this large blonde English woman barging through.

 

ONE OF OUR STAR PLATE-SPINNERS

 

Plate-balancingWe’re way down on spinning plates and ribbon twirlers, so I do a trawl through the still-crowded audience space and spot some sticking out of a basket - I say, “Ooh can I have that back please”, and instantly people disgorge them from bags - they genuinely thought they were presents, but when they realise we need to take them on to camps, they come tumbling out of bags into my arms with no ill-will at all. Such nice people! And the children are great - very gentle and sweet. They are treated very gently and kindly, and really respond to a touch on the cheek or the shoulder, with glorious smiles. We line up to say our goodbyes and get a thank you speech and a lei apiece of beautiful jasmine flowers. As we drive down the lane, masses of departing families wave and namaste to us. An exhausting but totally delightful morning, which really did spread a lot of joy. I would really like us to come back to this venue when we return to Sri Lanka (God and funders willing!)

 

GarlandsJane and Lee have to catch the train back to Colombo as they are returning to England tomorrow morning. We will miss them a lot - they have both given us so much help in the last 10 days. I’m really fond of Jane and will miss her Yorkshire common-sense a great deal. We drive them to the railway station, and load their necks with all the flowered garlands and wave them off. I really hope they will join us as volunteers again in the future!

 

WE'RE JUST BEING PRESENTED WITH BEAUTIFUL FLOWER GARLANDS: TO THE LEFT BELLA (WITH PART OF CHARLIE'S HEAD JUST VISIBLE BEHIND), JO, NAT AND JOHN

 

Drive on to Unawathuna and check into the next hotel, which is right on the beach and delightful. Again it is slightly above our budget, but we will watch our meal bills, and the next couple of hotels will be far cheaper. As the resource centre was a morning session, and no internet offices are open here today, we get an afternoon off, which is unexpected and great. We have a late lunch (I have the most delicious homemade soup) and then I hire flippers and a mask and snorkel over the road and have a mosie round the rocks, but apart form one fish, there is nothing to see. But the water is a glorious luke-warm bath temperature, and Jo, Rooben and I sunbathe on the beach for a while, till driven away by sand flies.

 

Paddy and Charlie take a tuk tuk into town and have a musical adventure at the local music shop, Holly has a siesta and so do John and Nat, and we all meet up for dinner on a small terrace overlooking the sea, with crabs crawling below, to Paddy’s fascination and almost horror! My food (tomato soup again as it was so good and a Sri Lankan curry that Jo and I are going to share) is just arriving, so that’s it for today. Another good day! We have all got used to sweating permanently and just let it drip now!

 

Tomorrow we might even see the Playbus - or it might be the day after that, or, of course it could be the day after that. Che sera, sera! Our energy is making a great difference here with or without playbus - we feel tired, happy, and contented that we are doing a really worthwhile job.

 

28 November

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