Friday, 24 September 2010

Day 2 – Tues 21 Sep

Dangerous exposure
Following a solid night’s sleep, we headed off early in the morning to the Nursery school, just a short walk away from the hotel.  It was great to see all the kids again – the school hosts children  aged from 3 to 5.  We provide food every day  for these children and new shoes so as well playing with them, we were interested to find out if the situation concerning the dangerous exposed wiring had been resolved which we had noticed on our last visit back in February.   

Unsurprisingly it hadn’t and bare mains cables were still exposed and within reach of the children due to wrangling by the building’s owners and the electricity board.  Dan, Don’s nephew and newly appointed trustee,  and on his first trip suggested building a wooden box around the electrical board to lessen the risk of danger  and following agreement, we’re hoping this should be in place and installed this weekend.  

Kids at the Nursery School
Next up was to catch up with the kids and teachers at the Village school which is the largest project which we support.  Even after just a couple of hours chatting with them all, we had quickly identified some new ideas to take forward to improve the effectiveness of the school as well as reviewing for ourselves some of initiatives which have been implemented since our  last trip in February.  The new roof is finished and means that classes can go on unhindered by rain water; the partitions are supremely effective in breaking up the large hall and allow more focused classes to take place without distraction.  Some of the things we will look at doing this trip include:
The Village School
  • Funding the first-ever overnight field trip for the older members of the school to the tea-plantation area so that they can learn more about the diverse history and geography of their own country (it seems very difficult to imagine children never having traveled outside of their own village
  • Ways to brighten up the school and improve the atmosphere in a poorly maintained building which is about 90 years old
  • Investigate opportunities such as technical training for  those less academically inclined;
  • Look into what would be needed to support those who are academically gifted onto the next stages of education;
The playground is starting to look scruffy - a job for next year?
We had been accompanied throughout by our minders Udaya and Colin – the former being the head fisherman who sorts out so much for us both when we’re in Sri Lanka but also even when we’re not and Colin, the fisherman who saved Della’s life.  During our discussions, it became apparent that there were two areas where we might be able to assist; one would be to help them get the right nets for the forthcoming Seine net fishing season; the other being to fund one person from the village to undertake a Seamanship course at a local college.  This appeals hugely as it would mean for a minimum outlay, someone from the village could graduate after a couple of months training and be qualified to work on the merchant ships which pass along the coast every day.  While it might take them away from their families for periods of times, a starting salary of over $250 per month is a significant amount in this country and offers the potential to earn much more pretty soon after.  We have agreed to fund one student initially and would expect that person to repay the cost of the course over time thereby enabling us to fund others who want to take the course to do so – and it fits in nicely with trying to make the villagers self-supporting.

Dan gets to see the musical instruments donated in memory of his late father declan
It was a busy first day and another early dinner, but we were soon  left in no doubt that we’re still in the middle of monsoon season with the arrival of an almighty storm.  As we watched the lightning out at sea, the rain suddenly started hammering down for several hours and the entire city of Colombo in the distance was plunged into darkness as one strike hit the entire city’s power supply.

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