Monday, 27 September 2010

Day 4 - Thu 23 Sep

By Dan, on his first reflections of Sri Lanka... 

What an interesting few days this has been for me. My first time in Sri Lanka with Friends of Della and Don and I’ve already experienced so many different emotions. Yesterday was one of the most amazing days, the joy that the girls from the orphanage get from the day trip is indescribable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many smiles and laughter for a simple trip to the beach. If you could experience this just once you would know that the work of your donations is appreciated so much.

Now, this is just one example of how the charity helps the community but today was all about making things happen. Each evening over dinner all five of us review that days events and sort out a list of objectives to work through the following day. This list can cover a wide range of tasks, from ensuring the children in the Nursery school are being fed, to sitting down with the Principal in the local school to discuss any issues that have arisen.

So after an early breakfast, 7:30am (ish) we head off to the Nursery School to speak with the teachers about uniforms and shoes. Now, the trip down to the Nursery School itself gives you a sense of how poor this area is. Walking alongside the railway tracks you get to see the community, a mixture of shacks, huts and breeze block structures with corrugated metal roofs. The only thought that comes to you is “wow”, and not in a good way.  After our meeting with the teachers and the head Buddhist monk we made our way across to the Village School.

I know that you are all aware of the great work that FODAD has done for the school but when you see it for the first time you genuinely think this building is used as a shed. It’s so dark inside. And where there should be windows you get bits of wood to protect the children from the elements. As we arrived there was a guard of honour with the school band marching to greet us. Seeing the band in action was particularly poignant as the instruments were dedicated in memory of my father Declan who passed away two years ago. After such a great welcome we were brought into the school where each grade put on an act. With more singing and Bollywood dancing it was then time for Gav to receive a birthday cake (number 3 for those who haven’t been counting!). It’s quite touching to see how much effort they put into this. The vice principal made a passionate speech to the students about how grateful the school is for all the help that FODAD gives to ensure that the children are fed, are given uniforms and receive assistance in cases of specific hardship. We spent most of the afternoon talking with the school children and some parents before heading off in search of a DIY store unlike any you might find at home in order to buy some paint as we intend to do some work on the school interior next week. 

It’s been a busy few days so far but it’s fantastic to be on the ground and see how much good work FODAD carries out. Until next time….Dan

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