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Sri Lanka Heat!

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Destination: Sri Lanka

Date: 26 March 2013

37th Trip to Sri Lanka

 

Tuesday 26th March

Met Victoria at the airport and we took off in good time. Met the other end by crazy Paul the taxi driver from the firm I always use and he had us laughing all the way to Heathrow  – it was very cold and we were glad to get into the warmth of T4. 

Had something to eat and waited for Chrsitine to come off her Manchester flight.  It was great to see her again – she had volunteered for me back in 2006 and we have been friends ever since.  Once we had gone passed the piano playing its self……dont ask….. and gone to check in, negociating the fact I didn’t have my credit card that I booked the flight with on me – bit of a drama – we went through only to have my bag stopped and searched – good job we weren’t in a hurry as it was AGES – all for my Kindle – and they had told me I didn’t need to take it out – note to self – NEVER believe the staff!

On the flight – swopped seats away from a smelly man  so I sat next to Victoria!

Wed  27th March

Arrive lunchtime  in Sri Lanka – the drive down was good and before long we arrived at the house I had rented.  It turned out to be owned by Charmika, Prasad’s friend – it seemed huge for just the 3 of us and rather smart – the reason we are in a house and not the Hotel is that the owner wants me to pay silly money for a really smart room I do not need – and he is unwilling to see reason – ie give it to me cheaper based on my 37 visits and the amount of volunteers I have bought to stay with him over the years – ho hum….  so here were are – this house rental is the same as one room at the hotel at its new rates……..

Prasad  took us to get  shopping for Pasta  supper and a few basics – before long Nilanthi arrived with my bags.

Thursday 28th March

Good nights sleep and up ready to go – first stop was the Siri Singithi – Nihal was outside and explained that Disna was in the Ayurvedic Hospital in Galle having treatment for her arthritis – Naomi is holding fort but she is heavily pregnant and I hope the baby doesn’t come before Disna is back! Apparently she might be there for a month! ouch

To the Coral Sands to see a ‘man’ who is waiting for me – It was Neil – lovely crazy Neil who had volunteered with us last year – Sanjay was also there so we could say  hello to everyone.

Straight to Frangipani so we could see Chaini and her new adopted little son – Denith.  The children had a smart new uniform with the school name on the back.  we had a lovely time getting to know Denith and watching the children dancing.  Went to check on the bags for Lara’s Foundation and Dayawathi.  Sat chatting Chaini for a while while Denith played around us.  

A lady – one of the mums came to talk with us about her cancer – I told her that we would do all we could to support her through – she was very afraid of what was going to happen to her.  

We had lunch on the Fort and ordered some jewellery  for an order I have back home.  Off to see Disna in the Hosp – she is having ‘natural’ treatment and will be there for a month!

Back to house – dinner with Neil at Dasu’s  he bought us back – couldn’t open Christines door  had to get Uncle up – then wake up Prasad and Charmika – in the end they took off the door handle!  haha what a palarva!

Bed

Friday Good Friday 29th March

Damith and Nilanthie  both came to the house so we could discuss business – Damiths van is now in the garage for repairs and it will cost 500,000 and he is 3 months in arrears with his loan.  As I used to come 5 times a year and build a house each time it was more regular business for him – now I only come twice he has got himself in a pickle.  I told him I cannot pay for the repairs or the loan he has to manage that himself but potentially we have 3 houses to build.  He understood what I said and Nilanthie says he will have to be on site all the time and get the items delivered as it will be cheaper than renting a truck for 8,000 per day.

I discussed the  house with Irangani and her children and Nilanthie says she has had the electric cable removed off the land – Nilanthie will ask the land owner to sign the land deed and then we can get going. 

It seems that Lasitha has been paying off her loan at 5,000 rupees per month  – there is 45,000  left to go – I have decided to let her carry on and not ask for it all back now.

Nihal has paid us a total of 100,000 for the land but still owes tha balance and hasn’t paid anything for ages so we will discuss with him.

I have also asked Nilanthi to check the land deed for Nandanee ready for a build too….

We went to do some visiting first taking Nilanthi to Naomi’s house – Damith had thought I might be unhappy as Naomi and her husband have built an extra piece on the house  – I told him that I thought it was great that they had taken the decision to make the house the size they wanted – at their own cost – at the time it is being built and fully supported them.

Sahan and the little girl were home alone with Thilina  at class and mum now working in a hotel – she was cooking school lunches from home but the teachers were not paying on time so another job like this will I hope give her more steady pay.

The hat ladies  were working away but need Damith to check out their toilet for them.

Next we called at Nilanthi’s house to give the boys their toys – Dihen did his badge making kit very carefully and Mahon – who is a real live wire – threw himself into the skittles game with great gusto and had us all diving for cover as he hurled the ball across the space!

Next to see Kuda about Irangani – he showed me a paper cutting of her being interviewed and about what a tough life she has.  We are going to try and help that situation……watch this space.

Next into Nilmini’s – all fine there and the girls are providing for the parents very well.  Lerathana where the story is the direct opposite – they have nothing – they have horrible parents in law and the father is injured – their life is a living hell – 4 children – all beautifully behaved and charming but FILTHY dirty……it is a situ I find hard to stomach as the mum is a real sweetie and works so hard to fend for her children.  I gave her some money JUST for food – they all looked so hungry.

Next to see the beautiful Charles girls and say hello and give the littlest one some more vitamins.  And on to Rangani – but she was out and only little Hyruni was home alone – rumor has it that Rasmi has got married at the tender age of 14!

Mahathun who proudly showed me his drivers licence for his motorbike and then in the next breath showed us the wounds in his legs – from climbing a tree  NOT thankfully being mown down on the roads!

Kavindra has been rescued from the jaws of being made a Monk – phew!  I did say to Dilini at the time – he is FAR too young – apparently he wanted to come home and play with his brother – perfectly natural for a 12 year old boy…

Dilini showed us the amazing mats she is making out of old rags ends – each one 100 rupees – around 50p! ouch must take hours….  I gave her 1,000 rupees and took 6!

The storm that had been brewing overhead broke and the heavens opened – we called up to Chandana’s house and made a dash into the house – only one sister is there with her 2 children and husband – she also had a friend there with her baby – from up the road – so they have settled in well.

The rain eased and we took off to see Pooja – Christine worked on this house back in 2006  so was great to see Dinushi’s reaction  when she saw her –  she got all teary! Pooja  is so beautiful now – Dinushi gave me a bag she had made – she sews all sorts of things – very talented.

We were coming back to collect Neil and Nilanthi and on the way back we stopped at Daya’s shop – I crept up and just stood till she looked up – they she got all teary as I hadn’t seen her for a whole year.  She kept saying she was very happy and was saving to come to Guernsey.  I asked to reserve some pictures as Thushara has a new style which I liked very much.

Collected Neil and Nilanthi and went to see Irangani at her house with the children.  Neil’s friend Diana will be funding this build so it is great for him to meet her and the children and see for himself the situation – we are all blown away by this lady and her work ethic – she gets up very early – prepares the fruit she sells during the day – goes on her bike to take the children to school comes home collects the fruit and rides around 26 klms in the jungle selling it – she gets home at 3 and then prepares the ONLY meal they all have of the day – for all of them! Then goes and climbs the trees with her son for the next days business!  Her arms are sun and battle scarred from climbing the trees!  She is a strong determined lady – her motivation?  To send her children to school! Hats off…..and deep respect for her mental and moral strength.

Up to the allotment where things are not going quite how we would like them – Ranjan is still chewing the beetle nut – he promised to give it up…….his garden is looking amazing as is the house but the rest of the plots are not doing so well – it seems  he is a little preoccupied with his other job and is now driving a motorbike too!

Nilanthi has employed  2 men to clear the land as we plan to plant cinnamon on the bottom third of the land – the crop can yield a good return and our land has gone up in value by 2/3rds already before we have planted it!

We need to think what to do – alternatives

Ranjan stays put and pays us rent

Ranjan leaves and rents his own

Ranjan stays put but works properly….

None of that is rocket science but I think we all agree he is a little lazy!

We left agreeing to all think about what we can do Nilanthi is going to talk with Sisira and I will think over night for a solution that will suit us all.

We came back to Hikka a dropped in to see Kuda to tell him what we have done with Irangani – she had already called him in tears of happiness.  Neil asked Kuda to read what the newspaper said about her so he could play it to Diana back home.

Back home and Prasad delivered the most wonderful Rice and curry  made by his mum for us!  Yum 

All tired and I was the last one standing doing this blog!

Saturday 30th March

Up to see Disna – Pasindu, Tharushi and the little girl all looking very well – I got a real shock  when I saw Pasindu – he has gone from a boy to a man very quickly – he had just woken up and after he emerged from the ‘sleepy’ zone” he was telling us how he is playing cricket and really enjoying it.  He has grown into a strong young man now and is working weekends with his father to earn money to pay for his cricket trips away.

Next up the hill and down to Hemalatha and the jungle shop – just her and Kalpini – there was a disappointing amount in the shop however we soon learned that the delivery man is due on Monday to stock her up – she says she has the money.  Good I am pleased was a little worried that she had not managed it too well with the reinvestment needed.

Next the lovely Da Silva  sisters – they are so sweet and both came out immediately – their shop looks amazing they have done really well – young Mrs da Silva  told us how the biscuits and noodles are the best sellers for her alongside small shampoo sachets, soap etc.  They both looked well and very happy and the older sister was walking better than last time too.

Kumari  was next on the list – she has had a baby 2 months ago after a C section – very sweet – the affect the baby has had on her is interesting – she does not seem so needy any more and didn’t cling to me all the time – she looks very well and happy and calm – only Mispa the daughter was there – Dad Tharushi is at work and Muru the brother at class.

Next trip was Erish on the dump – Christine gave him some colours and a pad, which he seemed very pleased with.

The children from the plastic house were next on the list – as we arrived the creepy auntie with the ‘nice face” and lots of smiles for us met us with 3 of the children Kumara wasn’t there and neither was Dad – the 2 girls shot off down the road calling their mother who was at a house nearby – she soon came running to meet us – I stole her away to the van to have a private chat with Prasad.  I wanted to know what the evil auntie is up to.  She still will not let them live in the house – not very often she will allow them to sleep in her house – but on the floor!  There are loads of beds and just her in a house large enough for them all and more!

They live in a grotty plastic house in her land. Mum Somalatha showed me again the land next door and where we could build for them . My worry is that evil auntie will still be vile to them.  She is ok with the children apparently it is just the mother!  They had a row 2 months ago and mum took them all and rented a house for 2,000 rupees  a month – she only did it for a month as she couldn’t afford it for longer.

Christine had some goodies for the children which gave way to lots of smiles – so sweet and horrible to think that mum works SO very hard to keep them at school – they are so polite and well behaved.

Home via the rotti shop for lunch and then  off down south to Rathgama and Sandamali – Damith was waiting for me with the quote for the house for Irangani – she has come down from University to see us and was so proud of her new little nephew – Mahesh and his wife had the baby 2 months ago.  Had a good chat with them – their situation has calmed down – Mahesh is no longer on the run from the army and is a security officer at the Karapitya Hosp working nights.  Dad is now discharged from the army honorably and on a pension.

Piled in the van and drove around the road to see Deepa – we met Shelton on his way to work – he came with us in the van back to see his lovely family – Christine again gave some crafty items for the children.  Little Tharini  was very shy and giggly to start until all the shiny craft stuff arrived and her eyes soon lit up.  This is a lovely group a real bonded family unit – supporting each other through bad times as well as good.  They are building a kitchen on the back of the house but the roof needs doing so we will see if we can help a little.

Next to see if we can catch up with Rangani – she was home and was with the boy and Hyruni  both fast asleep. She came up to see Prasad to explain  about  Rasmi – she is 15 and has run away with a classmate to Tissamahara in the south – I was really surprised as this girl is the LAST one I would expect to do that –  note to self – why write you are surprised as life especially this life is full of surprises…………. Only in Sri Lanka – oh and Haiti too!

Little Premedasa was 2nd to last on our today list and when I say little I mean LITTLE – he gets tinier and blinder each time I come and I am amazed that he still keeps going – even he thought he would die soon 9 years ago and so did I – he is as tough as they come!

We decided to pop in a see Kuda to chat about Irangani’s children’s school fees as all 3 of us feel this is something that maybe we can help with.

As luck would have it she was with Kuda having a rest – she said she had body pain! I am not surprised at all.

I asked her to tell us the prices of all the tuition fees for each child – I wanted to work out her income and expenditure as I had a bad feeling that one is outstripping the other and in the wrong way!  I was right…… 

Kuda had broached the Tuk Tuk idea with her and she liked it!  He called his friend and arranged to get it delivered tomorrow to the bar so we can look at it.  The cost is £1,816 – it is 4 stroke – quite new – has all the rain covers and music too!  Kuda laughed and said she can have the music on when she is driving!  Will ask Neil to come too.

Kuda told us that Irangani was most worried about her son not having any school shoes at the moment – well that we can help with and now! I gave her some money to cover the shoes and a little more too….  just to ease the next couple of days.  Kuda got all emotional again and set us all off.  Back to the house and we ate the left over curry from last night – YUM!  it was just as good 2nd time round – poor Christine  doesnt like it too spicy  but she is coping.

Easter Sunday 31st March

Neil arrived on his bike and we went to the Siri Sudath for a little concert of singing and dancing.  Very sweet but I was conscious that it was their day off so after a quick 123 jump photo session in the garden they left for home.  I always do this as it breaks down some barriers and makes everyone laugh – some of the dads got roped in at the end and it was great fun watching how high they jumped.

Next we went to Nilanthies office to chat about houses and land with Wimalatha – Ayesha’s Granny and her elder sister  –  I told them they are on the list and we just need to find a suitable place for them – they very much want to be back in Hikkaduwa – Gonnapinawalla area  which is a good thing for us too.

 

While we were in the office the lady who had breast cancer came in as she saw me on the road.  She is looking good – she had her breast removed and has finished the chemo – she seems to be doing very well and her hair is growing back fast – she was really smiley and seemed to be happy enough.  Irangani came in and had the land deed with her as well.  It seems that Indika’s mother  had not got the deed document and given it to Nilanthi as she had promised – we will meet with them to see what is going on – if anything.

Next we went to Kuda’s bar and Irangani and her daughter came soon after.  The Tuk tuk was there as promised.  It is 3 years old and has only been used as a private vehicle – not for hire.  It looked good and it caused great amusement  when I suggested Irangani  got into the drivers seat and then Haviska  got in too!

We went upstairs in the bar to find a neatly laid table with a little message from Kuda  “welcome Madam Serah and friends”

He had made us ALL a fab lunch of prawns potato and bacon it was delicious –  the two girls had lunch with us – they both carefully saved some for the brother nd sister – and afterwards we all tucked into icecream – the little girls pleasure in the icecream was marked!

I asked Kuda to get the older 2 icecream when they arrived as well.

Irangani  showed us the manoj that Kuda had cut from his own garden and given to her as a present so she could sell it.  He is a good friend to her!

After lunch we went to the supermarket and did a supersized shop for Rani the blind lady and then delivered it – it caused a huge stir and half the village arrived at the house to see what we were up to.  Seems the boy is only attending school a few days a week and I wonder in reality if he goes at all.  Mum does depend on him so much and I notice that she has lost a lot of weight since Granny has died.  The neighbour did say that they all look out for her.

Last visit of the day is to Nandanee and her muddy house – we have the funds to build for her from a lady called Penny in England who owns a Dance company – the house is made entirely from mud and sticks – she her father and mother and 2 children all live there – a volunteer has been supplying cash that she is given once a week to help build up the little boy Nimesh – he was born with a serious heart condition – however after the Dr’s telling me he will never speak or go to school 4 years ago, he IS speaking,  he is at school,  and he is running and jumping like a normal child  – Result!

We sorted out where we would best put the house on the plot – it would be on the place the house is now so my suggestion would be to rent them somewhere basic for about 6 weeks while the work is done and as soon as it is wind and water tight they move back in.

They all seemed very happy and Nandanee was very ainmated – she looked so well and little Nimesh was bobbing around  a real live wire.

This is a real result for me and previous volunteers, who have seen this little boy suffering so much.

Damith came to see me at the house – he was worried that I thought his quote was too much  – I told him it was however, I would be going for a smaller build – he then explained that having the extra 5 feet for the roofing made it very expensive as he had to use a double layer of sheets for the roof so it was double the price!  I had asked Sisira  to check it for me and he said that he thought it was a little steep too.

Power cut – the first one went to half power – very odd then it went out altogether next one was right off and back on full power.

Monday 1st April

Met Indika and Asanka  at the bus stand as they are coming to look over the tuk tuk  for me to make sure it is ok.  Comments were that it needs 4 new tyres, new starter handle and some work on the handles.  They valued at 300,000  instead of 350,000.

Anouska  was waiting at Kuda’s  for us and we took her to get her eyes tested – she said her eyes water  when she is studying – he tested her and told me she has 10% loss in long vision but short vision is perfect.  His assistant was showing her glass frames – so I quickly said I would like to wait a year and see if they get worse before giving her glasses.  He agreed – somewhat reluctantly!

Took off south  for Chaini stopping on the way at Moderns the fabric shop in Gintota where I bought some fabric – the girls saw the loom  weaving away.  Next stop was for Red Bananas for the children – we bought a large hand of 48 and some mangoustines and limes.  Red bananas are delicious – sweet and tasty.

Arrived at school – Denith was sleeping  with Asanka fanning him – the electric is out 8-5pm each week day while they fit new wiring in the community.

We had some singing and dancing and then the children left for home. Chaini had made us lunch which was delicious.  I took some pics of Deniths  skin tags/warts what ever they are so I could send the pics to Jean Rouget in Guernsey.

Last visit in Galle was to see Rasika – he looked well but showed me the ‘feet’ inside the trainers,  his leg piece fits into – it has all perished and cracked – I took pics and measured them  to send to Dorset Ortho  so they can make some new ones for him.  We all bought some necklaces  and braclets from him.

Back to Hikka and we came to the house for a late hour for Prasad to have his lunch.  Then we went to collect Anouska from Kuda’s place to take her to the dentist – not the lady I knew but a very nice man.  He said that she has an inflamed gum from some special toothpaste that has rubbed off the enamel. He prescribed antibiotics and told us to come back on  Friday at 5pm for him to check if the inflammation has gone down.  We went and got the drugs and I also bought them all new toothbrushes and 2 huge tubes of Signal.  Mum put her on the bus and we all went back to Kuda’s – I asked him to ask about her husband.  Apparently he does go to the house about 3 times a week as the youngest child likes him but sometimes he is drunk – the son does not like him and keeps a knife under the bed – the husband often says he is going to beat her but never does.  The boy is angry with him and mum is worried he will do something to the father.

We took her to her bike and came home.

Rice and Curry for tea – left over from last night – it was very good.

2 men come to mend my curtain pole – it was very entertaining – one was pissed as a parrot and the other not exactly well endowed in the brains dept!  scissors and a hammer were used to no avail – the pissed one kept laughing and pointing at my computer – ‘pooter hahaha  pooter” he chortled…. = curtain pole not mended! Wedged!

Tuesday 2nd April (or unlucky Tuesday – don’t start to build a house on a Tuesday!)  that’s us for the day off then!

Apparently it is bad luck to build a house on a Tuesday

So we have to start on Wednesday – however we had planned for Tuesday SO….we went for a walk on the beach up to the far end and had a drink in Blue Note – the weather at the moment is VERY hot and very humid so by the time we got there we were incredibly sweaty!

Met Neil and went to look at his accommodation at Robinson’s Nest in case Victoria wanted to stay there after we had left next week.

Next to Moonbeam for another drink and catch up with Neil.  While we were chatting a young Sri Lankan drove his trail bike along the beach – it was clear he was out to show off and as he drove to and fro the dogs all started to pack and bark at him chasing him – he saw this as a game and I muttered at the start that he would hit one if he wasn’t careful.  Next thing he is engulfed in a wave and we all comment on how that will be so bad for the bike.  He drives towards us one more time and hits a dog full pelt – the dog flies in the air and hits the ground – it is soon on its feet for a few moments and then falls to the ground obviously badly hurt.  The man comes to a halt near to us and his bike stalls – he tries to start it but it wont.  We are all incensed and jump up to shout at him – Neil hops onto the beach to tell him to go and tend to the dog – he ignores him.

A crowd arrives around the poor animal  and within 5 minutes it is dead.  2 men dig a grave and bury it.  What a complete idiot – he was so arrogant!

Prasad arrives and after we pop in to see Kuda about the auspicious time for the house build tomorrow we go and see Rosie – Taneesh is at class and Nalin at sea. Rosie is as pretty and smiley as ever – Victoria had a little gift for her and her brother of a pencil case and some crayons.

Next to see Niroshini – but she was at work – it seems as the children are at different schools now the head teacher has told her she cannot cook for his school anymore -??? Anyway she is now working at a resturant in town – Thilina was looking great and so was his sister and was very chatty in English……Victoria also gave them a gift and one for Sahan too.  Went to find Niroshini – she was please to see us and said her job was very hard and long hours – 12 a day! Ouch.  I would love to find her something else…..she is a sweetie.

Came back  to get changed.  3 men arrived to mend my curtain pole – what a complete shower – oh dear – they used a drill – no rawl plug tho – then a nail and hammer – bang….. sparks everywhere – nail pings out onto floor – sends one of them to get another nail – one at a time. Try again – bent that nail too – then they use scissors??? And then a kitchen knife = NOT MENDED but wedged!  That took half an hour!  A joke I hope the boss is not paying them!  Last night the same!

Went to Spagetti  for dinner and had a Pizza – it was the first non Rice and Curry meal we have had for dinner. Met Darsharna and Lilana coming in as we were going home.  Good to see her again.

Wednesday 3rd April

Up early as we have a house to start today!  7.06am is the auspicious time.  Neil met us on his motorbike and followed us up there.

As we drove into the lane we met Kuda walking – he had bought some cake for the breakfast.

Irangani had done the bit with the monk earlier and so we had to wait for Damith to put in the stick for the first corner of the building – then we set to, to clear the land.  Several trees and shrubs had to come down sadly – I don’t like to cut living trees but there was no option. Irangani had no trouble and with a single swipe of her machete she was lopping stuff right left and centre.  She is  tiny but a strong woman in both mind and body – we soon had the space clear and the boys marked out the area for the foundations.  Next Rohana made the ceremonial stick in the middle of the space – it is the coconut flower tied to a stick – a bag of soil from the ground and an oil lamp – this is all to give good luck to the workers and bless the house.

Then we all ate the ceremonial breakfast of milk rice and seeni sambal and had ginger tea to drink.

The boys started to dig the foundation trench and then I was asked to bury the brick – this is a small brick that is hollow – it is then filled with herbs and spices and sealed – next it is sunk into the foundations and covered in concrete and becomes part of the foundations – again all to bring good luck to the house.

Next I had to light the oil lamp on the coconut stick – I have done several of these over the years!

2 more men arrived to work and the truck of sand was delivered – the men cut away Irangani’s fence to allow the truck to put the sand right at the back by the water supply.

We left to take Kuda back for work and will return this afternoon when the blocks arrive.

Back at 2pm  and the boys have done a fantastic job  doing one end and half  side.  We helped by bringing the granite pieces to the 2 masons while they worked slotting all the different sizes together.  We also carried the mortar after it had been mixed.  The Sun belted down overhead but we did have some shade too thankfully.  Irangani and the children helped too. The truck with 5oo blocks arrived and we made a chain gang and moved them all in 30 mins – that is 2 and a half tons approx!

Back to moving more blocks as the foundations quickly took shape.  There is an enormous tree root in the middle of the house and it will need to be dug out – I am sure it will take some time.

Nilanthi called to say we are no 69 in a queue of 80 patients to see Dr Pushpika at the Co-operative Hospital this evening so we will leave at 7.pm – soon she called again to say that they are only on no 26 so we should leave later still!  Now 8pm to leave here – maybe I will see you tomorrow!

It was 10.30  when I got home so not bad at all –  We arrived at 8.30pm and waited out turn – it was no 59 when we got there so only about 3/4hour to wait. 

I played with Denith who was in a good mood – he had sweet little light up shoes on which constantly fascinated him. Dr Pushpika  was lovely and reassured Chaini about the warts.  She said they ALL need to be treated at the same time to halt their march – this is what I had been told too.  The ones that are a little infected are because he is scratching them.  She was very thorough and gave a referral for the Skin Specialist to do the work.  She also gave Chaini some cream for the infected ones and went through the diet thing with her too.

  I asked Chaini when we came out if she was now happy about his eating habits.  She looked very relieved and said she felt much better.

Thursday 4th April

8.50am and the heavens opened……good old monsoon rain chucking it down.

Prasad came for us at 10  just as the rain stopped but everywhere had had a good soaking.

We went to see a couple of places for Victoria to stay in after we leave and she ended up at the Coral Reef for 3,000 a night with breakfast.  She has a sea view and AC perfect!

Top Secret and met Neil for an early quick bite of lunch before we headed up to the site.  The men had done very well.   They were doing the inside wall footings as we arrived.  We fed them with the size bricks they needed and mortar too.  Neil arrived and joined in.  The children were all there and mum was out to work.  She came back and made us a delicious lemon drink – even tho the sun was not out it was very sweaty work.  Suddendly the heavens opened and we made a dash for cover – 20 mins of torrential rain and then it stopped just as suddenly as it started. 

Back on the job and it wasn’t long before the next load of blocks arrived – 500 unloaded by 8 of us in 12 mins! Not half bad! Job done.

The sections done today were covered in plastic and we all left sweaty tired but happy.

Went to Kuda’s and Neil was already down a pint – we persuaded Prasad to join us and Kuda and Prasad recounted some of our funny times from the past.  Prasad went to his friends to get us roti to nibble on with our drinks. Kuda really is so funny and it’s nice going to his little bar.

Home for Rice and Curry from last night – we somehow managed to nuke the container with the prawns in so it curled up and almost imploded – fascinating! Oops  sorry Prasad we will buy you a new one!

Friday 5th April

Early start to go to the Frangipani, for the New Year Party and Sports Day.  We arrived to a very colourful playground – flags up and all four flags on the school flag poles Frangipani, Guernsey, Buddist and Sri Lankan flags blowing proudly side by side.

The playground had chairs lined up for the children and the parents stood behind.

We had an announcer who I swear was taking a drink throughout the day – as by 4pm he was decidedly the worse for wear – however he managed quite well – he called our names out at least 100 times during the day announcing us at each game as judges and then thanking us after each game too – it was very amusing!

The monk arrived a little late but then we started.  He started by saying some prayers and then lighting the oil lamp – we all followed his lead and then it was teacher’s children and parents.  Next we had the milk boiling ceremony – milk is put into a pot and boiled on a fire until it boils over – it brings good luck for the school, children teachers and parents too.

Next we had various games – eat a yoghurt as fast as you can – drink a drink through a straw as fast as you can – well welcome in this heat! – be blindfold and then with a stick hit a pot swinging from a rope – very funny – mums to run with a spoon in their mouths with a lemon on it – sack race – grab as many sweets from a mat – they get counted by us and the winner gets a prize – thread 10 Aurelia flowers onto a reed the fastest – throw balloons filled with water to each other and the last balloon not burst wins – Victoria matched with a mum and they were really good – Christine and I threw to each other but we decided to liven it up – broke 2 balloons almost straight away and then proceeded to sabotage all the rest – it was great fun!  so then we did musical chairs my way – they are SOOOOO competitive the end was Christine and one mum – the mum won!

Next and last we did the water game – 2 teams 2 paddling pools – 2 trays – 2 cups on each tray – fill the cups with water and run holding both handles of the tray – pour the water into a jug the other end and run back to your team with the tray – first jug filled wins – again very competitive – mixed teams for the first time and then dads against mums – dads won! We all got very wet.

Inside for the fancy dress competition – each child dressed up as something or someone  and then they had to describe who they are……we had a tortoise, 2 Dr’s 2 Sunday school children,  several school teachers, fish sellers, vegetable sellers, a soldier, an old lady, a white rabbit, several birds, a spotty monkey, a butterfly and the President of Sri Lanka.

It was hard to choose 3 winners but we had to so the old lady was first, the butterfly was second and the President 3rd!

Everyone had worked so very hard to make the day the success it was, especially Chaini – she has managed to get the parents really onside – they are charming and so very helpful.

We left tired hot but having had a lovely day.  We went to get our bits from Mahesh on the Fort and then had a quick stop at Pedlar’s for a brownie and icecream – pure heaven.  Well we needed to kill time before we went to see Disna in hospital again.

We got there and Nihal was with her – she looked really bright and well and said she felt much better and could now walk well!  Took her some treats.

Home for a much needed shower and then out for dinner at Refresh – need my bed!

PS> someone said today that is is unseasonally hot here – imagine how we feel – and we have to go back to 2/3% at home – EEEKKK!

Saturday 6th April

So 4am in the morning and I wake with tummy cramps…..eek….. decide to stay in the cool for the morning and see if it subsides – it does with a little medical assistance if you get my drift…. The girls go on site and report great progress but severe heat….

After lunch we all went out and saw Susila, who was limping when I asked what was wrong she showed us her knee  – I think maybe she has arthritis…….poor dear lady she is so sweet.  I will try and have a word with Sanjay about her as she works in the Hotel laundry at the Coral Sands.

Next was Hemalatha  who had had a delivery of food into her shop along with 2 hands of bananas.

Next to Disna – she was out with Pasindu but Tharushi was there with her little sister.  We asked her to get mum to call Prasad about swimming tomorrow.

Went to see Daya  at the shop she was sound asleep bless her – best thing in this heat…….she hadn’t rolled the pictures  so I paid her and asked her to get them ready for later on.

Dropped the girls shopping and I went to Nilanthi’s to see Nihal about the land.

We agreed that he needed to pay our debt back now as it was 4 years since we gave him the loan.  As Disna has paid 100,000 rupees and Nilanthi added some interest we agreed that we would have half the land as payment and Nihal would retain the other half.

Home and I went to bed exhausted! Slept till 11.30 and then woke to work a little and get the terrible news that Sarah Groves had been murdered in India – I spent the rest of the night awake thinking about it – what a terrible day for her family!

Sunday 7th

Nilanthi arrived with egg hoppers and string noodles for our breakfast!

I met her on the road and we went to see Nihal’s land we agreed that we would take half of the land as full payment for the loan – Nilanthi will get a surveyor to work out the real boundary and then we will build a house for Ayesha and her sister and Grandma.  It is a good quiet spot. 

Across the road is a cinnamon distillers – fascinating I asked him the man would explain the process to us and he showed how all the plant is used – the leaves that have already had the oil extracted are used to fire a furnace which boils water and sends steam into another pot which is sealed and full of leaves – the water and steam boil and the oils are extracted and pumped through a pipe into another chamber of water – this is then pumped through a series of small jugs and the oil separated by hand! I am sure there is a way to lessen that burden – anyway Nilanthi and I took it all in as we are considering our land for cinnamon production this would be the icing on the cake!  Imagine – being able to give some jobs this way!

Next we went to the allotment – 2 of the women arrived and disputed that they had not looked after their land well – it was a long discussion  but they clearly did not get what our concept was and one had the cheek to ask me to build her a house on the land!  Needless to say we dispatched them with a small payment for clearing the land.

Ranjan was given a 6 month reprieve and told that he should have let us know that people were not working the land properly – that was his job as the manager – he has already stopped eating the beetle nut and has promised to give it up – his mother in law then launched into how grateful they all were for this chance and that they really appreciated what we had done for them.

Ranjan agreed that his fortunes had changed and he was in a much better position now and he would work hard for us.

We will plant cinnamon and he will tend it 3 hours each day and that way he can keep his other job as a chef as well.  Sissira will over see the work – and when the harvest comes we will have half and Sissira will have the other half – if we are successful then we will buy more land and possibly start a cinnamon plant too – exciting times – this will take some major investment so we will see….

Next we went to see the neighbour who was asking for money for the well that was dug by him Neil and Ranjan.

Home for lunch before our swimming session with the children.  We are taking Pasindu and Tharushi from Disna’s family and Eshan and Haviska from Irangani’s family.

Prasad collected Pasindu and Tharushi – Disna was in the van with little Sharah too – I told her we were happy to keep the little one if she wanted to come with us but we are not taking adults!  I always do this as usually it means the children come out of their shells when it is just them without mums and dads!

 

Eshan and Haviska  were coming on the bus but were a little late so we took Christine Victoria and the 3 children to the part of the beach we would be and Prasad and I went to collect the other 2 from the bus stand. Soon we were all at the sea – I stayed out of the water guarding the bags as there were some men lurking around looking for the opportunity to steal something – the children had a ball in the sea – the swell was quite fierce but with the rubber rings etc we managed quite well. 

 

Pasindu had little Sharah in the dingy float so I took her and just sat in the shallows with her while the others played in deeper water –  Tharushi has become very brave in the water now and Haviska who hasn’t been before was very brave – they were all quite shy and when they came out of the water they sat on the sand wrapped in towels had a drink and a nibble of food before we got them dressed and headed off to deliver sandy tired children home.

 

We were invited to Nilanthi’s for dinner – we walked as our house is on her road to be met by Dihen and his cousin soon followed by Mayon and another cousin Nilanthi’s sister’s children.

 

Her sister is seemed was in charge of dinner – we were served up a feast fit for Kings and Queens.

 

Sissira then suggested that he take us all on a river safari tomorrow as it is Nilanthi’s New Year holiday – we will have to get all the visits done in double quick time tomorrow!

Home so Christine could bathe her foot – she has one infected bite on her leg so we boiled up some water and put salt in it to see if the heat would draw out the infection.

Monday 8th

 

Up early and off to Chaini’s to collect the bags – Asanka and Indika were still finishing off when we got there so it gave us an hour or so to play with Denith one last time.

Yesterday Chaini took him to the specialist to have his warts burned off and he seemed as bright as a button today!

 

So the bags are packed and we say goodbye to a little boy who’s life has been changed forever – I am in awe of Chaini and Indika and how they have managed in 2 short months to make this little boy happy, safe and secure in an extremely loving environment. He is sociable – he would have had to fight for everything before – he is smiley – when she bought him home he did not smile readily – he is walking – he wasnt allowed to walk before and he wouldnt have been strong enough.
I am a happy person this afternoon – sad to say goodbye but happy in the knowledge that this family is now complete!  Next we drove to see Rasika and take pictures of the foot plates for Dorset Ortho to see – they have to make sure they are not damaged before replacing the foot coverings which add to the balance inside the trainer.

 

Next was a quick trip to the site and take the final pictures of the house – it is up to roof level and I was told the roof timbers will go up on Wednesday!  Wonderful – feel very happy with progress there – it will slow a little as the doors and windows will need to be made and fitted and then the plaster to go on.

Home for a quick lunch and to pack to home tomorrow.

Sisira and Nilanthi collected us as they are treating us to a ride up the river on their friends fishing boat.

It is incredible to think that this beautiful wide river flows into the sea – it originates from the Ganga and high in the mountains – and is the most peaceful and serene place – near but so far from the dirt and hubbub of Hikkaduwa just the chug of the engine for noise.

We were followed by a trail of small birds dipping down into the water to grasp a small fish in their bills and then swoop away on the airstream left in our wave.

2 hours of tranquillity…….heaven.

Crocs live in the Ganga waters but only one has been spotted in this area in the last year. Lucky as I don’t fancy have my leg chewed really.

Back home to change before heading to Kudas for our last supper – Jumbo Prawns bought especially for us! Delicious they were too.  He had written his own special brand of welcome notice for us too.

 

He had managed to get Irangani’s husband to come and speak to me. I wanted to ask him myself why he did not contribute to the family expenses in any way and yet he felt it ok to go and visit his small daughter there?  I along with others sometimes judge too quickly and I wanted – before I had my own opinion – meet him and ask the questions for my self – you see I cannot speak Signhalla to any great degree but I CAN understand much of it and I was able to guage for my self what Kuda was asking and indeed what his replies were too.  He has no remorse – there were some fake tears – but all this countered by a strong smell of both booze and cigarettes – I asked him if the money spent on them and his motorbike might not be better spent on his family – and he shrugged!  I now have my own opinion – he is a miserable waste of a man and will never help Irangani in the way she needs.  I finished by telling him that we were doing his job – providing for his family – what did he do?  Go outside and light a cigarette!

 

Suda came with the tuk and took us home – Nilanthi and Sisira arrived later with gifts for all and to take my bags.

 

Bed for an early start tomorrow……zzzzzzz

 

Tuesday 9th

 

Prasad arrived along with the house owner to do the final checks – all was well and we paid £20 each for electric for the 2 weeks  not bad since we had the AC on full in all rooms plus numerous fans ect.  It has been a good experience I wasn’t sure if coming out of the hotel and my comfort blanket would be – but it WAS very positive and a little more private too which was welcome.

 

Said goodbye to Victoria who is spending another 2 weeks in Sri Lanka and will be there over the New Year when I am sure she will have a ball.  She has my network of contacts on her phone and Nilanthi has already offered to take her to some places for New Year.  Prasad is taking her on a cultural trip as well so she will be able to say she has DONE Sri Lanka – well part of it.  Good luck Victoria Bon Voyage and thank you for all your help on this trip.

 

3 and a half hours later and we were at the airport ready to board.  I sat next to Charles Haviland the BBC News Correspondant to Sri Lanka – we had a very interesting discussion about what is happening to Muslims politically at the moment in Colombo especially – he was going to London for a job interview as his 4 year contract in Sri Lanka is up and he is moving on – he said he had some regrets as he felt the political situation now is about to rev up again and he thought it would be very interesting.  The BBC will not replace him at the moment his contract was covering amongst other things,  the ‘ending’ of the civil war that had raged for many years.

 

Back into the  grey dull skies that is London!  and Christine had missed her connection to Manchester which was a pain. 

 

It was so good to see her again and I was delighted she wanted to come back again and spend the time working with us on B2SL projects.  She has a great sense of humor and is a very reliable person to have with you.  Bon Chance Christine – you are welcome anytime!

 

What a great trip – emotional at times – frustrating at others but hugely rewarding most of the time…..thank you to all who give money to aid our work we could NOT do what we do without you!