Monday, 14 February 2011

Monday 14 Feb

First day at school
First stop was a short walk down to the Village Nursery school, or Montessori school as they are called in Sri Lanka.  Regular readers will know that “school” is rather a grand name for what is basically a single room. We introduced our friends to the teachers and soon balloons and bubbles which Lisa had brought with her, were causing great excitement.  We caught up with the two teachers who told us that this year, they had 23 children registered on their books.  We also learned that one of them, got up each morning at 4am and travelled for 2 hours from her home to start work each day – and then caught two busses back at the end of school.  Della had also established that she was paid very little and had only recently been re-housed into Red Cross supported accommodation.  Given her talent as a teacher and her obvious devotion to the kids , we were all moved by her dedication and hard work.

And so we hope that at some stage later this year, a new school will be built in the grounds of the existing school to house them in a joint venture with the local nearby hotel and the Buddhist monk.  He himself is keen to see progress made and it is him who runs the Jungle Nursery in the village where he was born.  We really hope to be able to get down to see it next week; Della, Don and Tess visited last week and handed out new uniforms to the children, many of whom we’re rather surprised and somewhat alarmed to see white faces for the first time which isn’t perhaps so surprising given its remote location.

The final act was delivering over 20 soft toys to the children.  The little ones, especially those for whom it was their first day at school, were comforted by the bears, dollies and other furry creatures and their tears soon dried up.

Furry Friends (thanks to Jan and friends)

Next, we went to the Village School. In the bright sunshine and strong tropical heat, it was hard to imagine the really poor weather the region has recently suffered. But we desperately wanted to see for ourselves the new roof and guttering which was completed last month via our kind supporters who “Raised the Roof”. It is a really good job, well done and tops off the old building which we painted to freshen it up on our last trip.

After some initial shyness, Callum soon made friends and started playing cricket with the boys in the playground – by the way, Sri Lanka is going Cricket World Cup crazy. We meanwhile spoke to the Principal about lots of different issues which had arisen since our last trip in September.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to address many of them but, with a new roof and metal grilles on all the windows, the school will very soon be completely safe and secure.  

And there were lots of other preparations to do for the next fortnight which will involve handing out new uniforms, shoes, painting desks and chairs, games days… it’ll be lots of fun but a lot of hard work.

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