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28 November

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

Monday 28 November

UYANWATTE CRI KET STADIUM FOR CHILDREN FROM MATARA VIDYALAY CAMPS, ORGANISED BY IOM (THE INTERNATIONAL OFFICE OF MIGRATION)

"manageable (just) mini-fury"

Wake up early at Sun 'n Sea on beautiful Unawatuna Bay, and have coffee looking down at the beach.

 

Waiting for the bus

 

Lots of phone calls to Aruni of Impakt to check onward camps and accommodation details, and to Eshan of Tear Drop Relief to see what is happening with the Playbus.

 

The Playbus was released from Customs on Friday morning, and we had hoped that Eshan was bringing the bus and all the equipment down to us today at the latest (we still only have the stuff we brought in our suitcases, the one parachute he sent down the other day and the badge machine that I left here in March and have managed to rediscover), but he is now apparently waiting till tomorrow as Jerry from Impakt can't come till then.

 

We are now more than half way through our Children's World International tour - only another 9 sessions to do, and we still have no Playbus, and there don't seem to be any permanent personnel to train up, except the wonderful Shane, our guide and translator, who is picking everything up wonderfully well and will be a very good, calm future bus manager, we think.

 

How can they manage without staff?

 

Thank goodness John and Natalie will be staying until the end of February, so that there will be some continuity - but how much they and Shane will be able to achieve on their own, if no permanent staff are forthcoming soon, once the CWI team leaves on 8th December, is highly debatable. They will have parachute games to replace our performances, and I suppose they can run the drawing workshops easily, and one could do clay, and one could do badges - and actually the beanbag making workshop will be easy once we have the doings for making them - but that wouldn't leave the all-important 'wanderer', who is needed to check that change-overs are happening OK and that the general feel is good, and who can make changes quickly to the programme where and when necessary.

 

Oh well, if Eshan comes down tomorrow with Jerry, we can have a good talk with them and try to get them to level with us about what is going on and about exactly what their plans are - I feel we need some more clarity about everything.

 

Lower than expected numbers

 

The figures Aruni had been given for expected numbers of children in the camps are wrong-ish - the first estimate was approximately 200 per session, then we were told 300 per session - in actual fact it has always been something between 60 and 130 children per session so far. Mind you, as we have had virtually no equipment and virtually no personnel, these low child-numbers have probably been a good thing - but it is a sadness to us as we were hoping to reach more children. Having said that, the children are absolutely lovely and have really appreciated everything we have done, and they have let us know very clearly how happy we have made them - without that, I would be in a state of absolute fury by now about everything - instead of which I am only in a state of (just!) manageable mini-fury and worry.

 

How to deal with stress

 

I feel so stressed and tense about all these let-downs, and so fed up with all the internet lines being down, so we that we can't send the last 2 days diary and pictures, and, because I seem to have strained a muscle in my shoulder quite badly (possibly the parachute games?) that I head off and have a massage at a local Ayuvedic Centre. The hotel lady drives me there in her delightful and very snazzy, 30-year-old, top-down Morris Minor. For 1,500 rupees (about £8.50) I get a 90-minute massge after having my pulses read (the doctor is right about tension and pain in the neck, shoulders, back and hip, but, thankfully, wrong about haemorrhoids, which I really don't have, fortunately, being a very fibre and water person).

 

The massage was done by two sweet women in school-type overalls. I take off my skirt and shirt and get onto the table in my bra and pants - they speak no English, but make it very clear that I am supposed to get totally naked. My English embarrassment resists to no avail, so I strip totally, and, with my eyes firmly shut, lie down on the green plastic table. A really huge amount of delicious smelling oil is dripped onto my front, and, in unison, two pairs of hands begin to massage me in total synchronicity.

 

Every inch of my front is liberally basted and massaged, and then I am told to turn over. This is easier said than done, as I am now so oily and slippery that I am in extreme danger of slipping off the table onto the floor! They pour even more oil onto my back and there is a lot more synchronised rubbing and slapping, but I can't get them to concentrate on my left shoulder where I definitely strained something yesterday - they have their own agenda and are sticking to it closely. Nonetheless it is an interesting and relaxing experience, and when I finally slip and slide off the table after my allotted 90 minutes I feel very relaxed and quite 'chilled out'

 

I walk back along the road to our hotel, stopping off at various internet offices on the way, but the lines are still down and it is not possible to do my hotmail. Oh well, I suppose it can wait till tomorrow at Welligama. A last quick dip in the sea, a hurried pack and it's on to Matara for the next session, which has been moved from a camp to a cricket stadium. We drive about an hour and a half to our new hotel on Welligama Bay (or Welwyn Garden Bay as it was pronounced by Jo, giving visions of a far less attractive place). The rooms seem pretty mosquito-y, and my ceiling-fan is old and very slow, so I put a mosquito coil on to burn away while we are out. A quick sandwich and it's on to Matara for the session.

 

CWI or Cricketers?

 

We arrive at the stadium and see a big, cool room with tables and lots of space. Hurrah! Then we also see that the cricket team is playing and that lots of people are watching play from the big, cool room - so it doesn't look as though we will be able to use it. Hey ho! We go and have a look at the field outside, but there isn't a particle of shade, so we keep looking, and round the side of the main building we find a sort of netball court with some concrete steps that should do. We set up the badge table and start cutting out more badge centres and drawing circles in them (a time consuming business, but if you don't draw the circle the children draw right to the edge and lose part of their design when the badge is made - it's quicker and certainly easier in the end to just draw the circle for them) and putting the pins into the badge backs. No sign of any children yet - we hope a mistake hasn't been made! Suddenly the clouds build up and it looks like immiment rain - the cricketers take pity on us and say that we can use the cool, shady room, so we move all our stuff inside and set up the show and the badge and drawing tables.

 

Better late than never

 

Children eventually start to arrive, and Paddy takes them outside to play parachute games on the grass to the front of the building - luckily it's clean enough to play 'Cat and Mouse'. All the children sit or kneel on the ground in a circle, holding the edge of the parachute One child is then selected to be the 'mouse' and goes under the parachute, scurrying along on their hands and knees. The children round the circumference shake the parachute vigorously to hide the 'mouse' and a child is chosen to be the 'cat'. The 'cat' goes on top of the parachute on hands and knees, and tries to find and catch the 'mouse'. It's a very simple game, but the children absoluttely love it and it is a huge success - they would have happily played for hours, but there is now an audience of about 90 children and 50 adults, so we start the first half of the show, which goes down extremely well. Plate-spinning, ribbon-twirling, drawing and badge-making workshops follow and are much enjoyed.

 

The badge-making got so hectic yesterday at the special school, and the people wielding the badge machine were so totally mobbed, that we try to run it differently today. When a group of children have drawn their badge centres, with their name and colourful decortions, they have to hand them in, and are sent on to another activity while their badges are made up. I do a lot of the badge-making today, in a corner of the room, wtih my back to the room so as to cause least interest, and the system works fairly well, but the children's curiosity and fascination for the badge machine means that sometimes I am still crowded and mobbed. The old badge machine is working fairly well, but is not perfect, and every so often things go wrong and badges come out not entirely attached to their bases and pins. We manage to rescue or redo all the duds - it will be nice when the new badge machine eventually arrives, hopefully tomorrow!

 

Slightly disorganised, but enjoyed

 

Because the children arrived so late, time is pressing on, and it becomes clear that we will not be able to do the second half of the show as the children need to go back to their camps, so we rush through completing the rest of the badges and pack up about 6.30pm. A slightly disorganised session, but still very much enjoyed by the children, which is the main thing.

 

Back to our hotel, where there still seem to be mosquitos abounding, but it has now become clear to me that the dreadful itching I am experiencing is actually from the sand flies on the beach at Unawatuna. Jo has been bitten too, but luckily not Roo. They are strange, raised bites with a little bobble of lymph on the top, which just plead to be scratched off - but we absolutely mustn't scratch - I scratched some of these once in Thailand some years ago and got very badly infected and had to take antibiotics for 8 weeks and have acid dripped on the wounds each day to eat away the bad stuff - so Jo and I are determined not to scratch, though this may be easier said than done!

 

Tackling tomorrow

 

Half-board dinner at our hotel and discussions about how we are going to tackle tomorrow where there really may be 300 children for once.. We think it will be easier to keep the children in one big group - parachute games, first part of show, parachute games, musical statues, the structures game, second half of the show and finish with more parachute games if appropriate. This rather depends on the bus arriving with more parachutes and with the PA system, but it should certainly be smoother than trying to separate them into groups and run all the different activities.

 

The bus is meant to arrive here at Welligama Bay tomorrow morning - we need to leave for the camp at about 12.30, so hope the bus will be on time. Fingers crossed - yet again!

 

29 November

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