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29 November

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

Tuesday 29th November

Dickwella - Kudawela Jayawickrama Vidyala Tsunami Village

It's big and red - it's ...

 

Technical stuff

 

Wake early, and after breakfast Paddy and I go into town by tuk-tuk and do the emails. We can't send the diary and pix for yesterday as we have run out of discs to burn the files from my computer onto, and therefore put onto the internet office computer and thence to the hotmail. This is a cumbersome system anyway, and in some interet offices there are no computers that take discs, so what we really need to do, apparently, is get a 'memory stick' which we can save files on and then plug into any computer. We look for one in Welligama, but it's not that sort of town. We'll keep looking.

 

When we return to the hotel, we all spend an hour or so cutting out more badge centres, drawing circles and putting the pins into the back - tedious work, but pleasantly calming!'

 

Locked gates

 

We had hoped that the Playbus would arrive at our hotel before 12.30 and travel on with us, but there is no sign of it, and it doesn't seem possible to get through to Eshan on the mobile, so at 1.00 we have to leave as it is a 90-minute drive to Dickwella. It's lucky we leave as we get dreadfully lost once we reach Dickwella. We eventually find the school we are meant to be doing the session at, but the gates and locked and there is no one there. Eventually manage to get through to an organiser and they say they will come and meet us. We eventually manage to get through to Eshan on the mobile and learn that they are only about an hour and a half behind us with the Playbus (which has managed to bring a main power cable down already on its trip from Colombo!) After about half an hour our guide arrives - it turns out to be Christine, the head teacher of the Navajeevana Special Needs School where we did a session in March - great to meet up with her again. She leads us to a village by the sea, where the tsunami villagers live that have been sort-of adopted by the Navajeevana Institute. The main shady building is being used for hand-outs of food, etc. by Unicef, so we find a tiny bit of shade for the shows to take place.

 

SHANE (WITH CHARLIE BEHIND HIM) LEADING A GAME THE DAY THE BUS ARRIVES, WITH THE BUS'S SPLENDID PA IN VIEW - ARE WE GLAD TO SEE THAT!

 

200 excited children

Arms up!

We play some parachute games while Jo and Charlie set up the show - but there are at least 200 excited children - far too many for just one parachute, but all the other parachutes are on the bus! A pretty chaotic but very enjoyable parachute session despite the heat. The 200 chidren and at least 100 adults move over the field to the show space, and they are all trying to crowd into the tiny area of shade available (which luckily grows slowly bigger as the sun progresses on its slow descent) and we have great difficulty in maintaining space for the performers to make their entrances and exits onto the 'stage', and we virtually have to give up on 'backstage security' (though that's a bit of a misnomer most of the time anyway!)

Jo and her suitcase

We have nearly finished the show when, joy of joys, the Playbus eventually arrives in the village! We stall it round the corner so that it doesn't distract from the end of Charlie and Jo's performance, and then Eshan proudly drives it into the field. Paddy stands on a chair and points it out to the audience who are applauding the performance, and they turn and see the bus and run to the bus with great excitement.

 

CHILDREN AND ADULTS CLUSTERING INTO THE SMALL AMOUNT OF SHADE AVAILABLE TO WATCH JO OPEN HER SUITCASE OF TRICKS

 

A grand entry

A crowd around the bus

 

A RED LONDON ROUTEMASTER BUS IN A TINY VILLAGE BY THE SEA IN SRI LANKA - BIZARRE - BUT HOW GLAD WE ARE TO SEE IT AFTER ALL THIS TIME! YOU CAN JUST SEE SHANE AND CHARLIE AT THE REAR, CLEARLY THINKING, "GOODNESS THEY'RE OVER-EXCITED - WHAT CAN WE DO TO CALM THEM DOWN?"

 

I have to say that the bus does look absolutely splendid - a big, double-decker, open-topped Route Master red London bus - it's very strange seeing it in a field by the sea surrounded by very poor and destitute tsunami survivors. We had hoped it would be here when we (the Children's World International Team) arrived on 17 November. The bus actually arrived on 10 December in Colombo, on a boat from England, but Customs held onto it for ages and ages, then it had to be registered, then various bits and pieces had to be done to it and more equipment loaded. At least now on 29 November it is here with us, and we will be reunited with all our equipment (save the clay, which for some reason Eshan has left on the second bus in Colombo - hopefully that can be brought to us when we return to the Colombo area on 5th December for our last three days of touring.)

 

More technical stuff, good and bad

 

We hurriedly unearth 2 more parachutes from the bus and have 3 large parachute games going, while we unearth and set up the PA system which will be plugged into our D8 to provide music and voice amplification. I take some pictures of the bus, surrounded by excited children and parents, and then nip up to the top deck and take what should have been some wonderful aerial shots of the 3 colourful parachute games, but sadly the switch must have been turned to the wrong setting and none of these are recorded. Luckily Holly and Jo got some good shots on their video cameras, so hopefully we can snitch some of these.'

 

An audience of 550

 

Paddy and Charlie make the PA work - we have amplification - hurrah! With a group this large, amplification is vital, and we are thrilled to bits. The bus and PA attract more children and parents and there are probably now 350 children and 200 adults. Paddy, translated by Shane over the microphone, gets the children into a large (sort of!) circle - this is actually very hard to achieve as the parents are all pressing around. We run a session of musical statues/musical bumps which goes fairly well, and then do the Children's World spiral dance - everyone holds hands in the circle, and Paddy sets off leading the children on his right in a huge spiral - bit by bit the whole circle starts to move, the children to Paddy's original left being the last to set off. From the top of the bus, the spiral looks amazing (and hey, my pictures still aren't working - rats and double rats!) A session of dancing and then, when the music stops, getting into groups of, say, 4, 6 or 7, or whatever number of fingers Charlie holds up, which goes down really well - and then it's time to stop as the mothers need to get the children home and cook their dinners. (We are so pleased to have the sound system now - it will make it infinitely easier to run large-group activities, when there are so many children that it is unrealistic to break into sub-groups for different activities such as badge-making, face-painting, etc. ) ( I must tell Linda Cruse that we really would like one for the Thai Tour please!)

 

HOLLY AND IMPAKT VOLUNTEERS ON THE TOP DECK OF THE BUS AS IT LEAVES KIDEWELA VIDYALA - WE SEEM TO HAVE LEFT PADDY BEHIND! YOU CAN SEE HIS BACK VIEW (IN WHITE T-SHIRT) IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CROWD.

 

Beware low cables

Waving to the bus

Shane asks the children over the microphone if they have enjoyed themselves - a resounding and long-lasting cheer is the reply! We pack up the bus, having to pause constantly to shake outstretched hands or do 'high fives'. Some of us travel in the vans, but some go on the bus (which is apparently very exciting - Percy, the new security man stands at the front of the top deck with a stick shaped like a 'Y' to lift up any low cables -desperately trying to ensure the bus does not bring down any more main power cables - and everyone has to duck constantly to escape branches and leaves!)

 

We drive on (guided again by Christine, who luckily needs a lift) to our new guesthouse, which is bang opposite the Navajaveena Institute, where we will be running tomorrow's session. We unload the vans completely - our luggage into the guesthouse, and the equipment we have been carrying with us onto the bus, and then Eshan and the Impakt volunteers who came down for the day in the bus depart for Colombo in the 2 grey vans that we have been travelling in on the first part of the Tour.

 

Onwards and upwards

 

The playbus

We are now totally reliant on the Playbus - let's hope it is mechanically sound and reliable! We really need it to work - we have had to manage without it for 9 1/2 sessions, and it is vital it now works perfectly for our remaining 7 1/2 sessions. We had to miss our first session because of the curfew after the Election - we are determined that we will miss no more! Now we have our equipment and can pass all the different session skills, and large-group session skills (thanks to now having a PA) on to John, Natalie, Shane and Percy, we feel far happier (though it would be nice if more of the future bus team were in place, but hey ho!) It should all be onwards and upwards from here hopefully! Fingers crossed!

 

I'm too tired to even unpack and we head to a little restaurant on the corner where I eat delicious chicken soup with a lot of cloves in it and curd (like yoghurt) with 'treacle' (which is actually a sort of palm sap, and very good.)

 

Our planned itinerary

 

We had been planning to drive on to Tissa straight after tomorrow's session, but that would mean Natalie and/or John having to drive the bus for the first time in the dark, which doesn't seem a good idea, so we decide to stay here in this guesthouse for a second night, tomorrow, and then head to Tissa early on Thursday 1 December, which is our day off (this may again turn out to be a bit of a euphemism!) We have also changed our accommodation itinerary slightly to accommodate the slowness of the bus and the distances to be travelled. We will now stay only the nights of 1 and 2 December (hopefully visiting the National Park and the Bird Island on our day off, 1 December, if we get there in time, and running a session at Kirinda Srema Abimana Pure Camp on 2 December). (Vital we hand our washing in to be done the moment we reach the Tissa gueshouse, as we are all badly in need of clean clothes!) Kirinda is our most easterly point of call on this Tour (we really hope to visit Trincomallee and Batticalloa in the East and Jaffna in the North when we next return - God, funders and Tamil troubles willing, in April or July next year).

 

After the rest of our journey Eastwards as far as Kirinda, on Saturday 3 December we will head West again along the South coast, running a session at Hambantota, and then driving west to Tangalle and staying the night at the same guest house opposite the Navajaveena Institute that we are at tonight. A session on the 4th at an orphanage in Tangalle, then Westwards again, staying in Wadduwa the night of the 4th and doing a session in Kalutara Moderawila on the 5th. Drive back to the Mount Lavinia area (just South of Colombo) and stay at Ocen Blue Guest House the nights of 5th, 6th and 7th December, running sessions at Moratuwa Podujaya School on the 6th and at Ratmalana on the 7th. It will have to be an early night on the 7th, as we have to leave for the airport at about 4.00 am on the 8th to catch our flights - Paddy, Charlie and Holly back to England, and me, Jo and Roo to Thailand where we are going to do it all again (hopefully with slightly fewer setbacks!)

 

30 November

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