Sunday, 3 October 2010

Day 11 - Thu 30 Sep

The Nursery School on parade
Early today it was fantastic to see the kids from the Nursery School in a pageant celebrating a feast day. They all looked so smart and happy and their mothers bursting with pride. Very colourful, especially holding what looked like enormous lollipops!!

Later in the morning we were able to visit the Girls at the Orphanage. Much has changed since our last visit to this institution as we were able to witness the fantastic creation of a  new vocational centre which houses areas for sewing, needlework as well as art & crafts. The love and devotion that the Principal and staff have for these girls is so obvious and they do an extraordinary job considering the background that some of the girls come from. Dan was able to see and hear the Orphanage Band strike up the Colonel Bogey tune which was very impressive.

Some of the work in the vocational training area
During a dance performance by the younger children, Della received an urgent call from customs to tell her that if she didn’t go to the airport to check through a consignment of 36 boxes sent from the UK that she would be arrested on departure. She and Don therefore rushed off to the other side of Colombo and said that they would see us sometime later that day. We realised it could be several hours before we either saw them back at the hotel or in a prison cell! 

We meanwhile returned to Ratmalana to source out school equipment supply shops. After a trawl of the Yellow Pages and Internet, we found the grandly named Office Works, several kilometres away. We jumped in a car and eventually found the not so grand garage that was piled with reams of A4 paper and ring binders. Amazing what a good website and large advert in the local directory can do for your business. Hidden away at the back were a few whiteboards which we had promised the Village School. Unfortunately the other materials we were sourcing had to be ordered and we have been promised delivery for Saturday.

The Girls' Orphanage Band
In the meantime, Dan, as the only one with any mode of communication, was receiving updates from Sri Lanka’s latest “Most Wanted”. After much shaking of hands and smiling at the newly appointed Chief of Customs, Bonnie & Clyde were released back into civilisation. By the time they returned it had been a good 6 hours of them being kept waiting after everything was completed in triplicate. Apparently the customs officer refused to believe that there were any charities still assisting in Sri Lanka post-Tsunami. Della & Don were able to show him the website and they now have a new best friend. He insisted on the shipment being delivered and cleared through as soon as possible.

After a much needed relaxing evening meal, we went to bed at 22.30 only to be woken at 23.45 to be advised that DHL were at the hotel with the 36 boxes. We each took 12 boxes into our rooms and decided that we would unpack and separate the men’s, women’s and kids’ stuff the following morning. It’s great to have the shipment here at last and that we’re not harbouring criminals. Best left to your imagination how Della or Don reacted to the threat of hard labour in a third world prison!!!

12 of the 36 boxes which finally arrived

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