Tuesday 28th October - TASKS ASSIGNED!

OceanStars :: Thursday 30th October 2008 :: This Story

Another early start, this time to the playgroups we have all been looking forward to working in. For Sharon, Jo and Helen it was a journey to Kalkudah, once again through many roadblocks with the security of armed soldiers.

The playgroup was housed in a simple open brick building and on arrival we were adorned with beautiful, fragrant garlands of flowers which the children placed around our necks. Straight away they were eagerly drawing pictures of their houses as we attempted to learn their names!! ‘Two little dickie birds’ added some fun to this, and everyone started to relax and embrace the morning’s activities. It wasn’t long before the personalities began to shine through.....shy, cheeky and confident. It was a delight to see how, with very little resources, Prema and her helpers had nurtured a safe and happy environment for these 3-5 year olds. They were keen for us to come back tomorrow and finish the story we started....!!

We were then treated to a delicious lunch at the new, post- tsunami home of our translator Victor and his mum Victoria, who lost her husband Trevor in the disaster. Her resilience in the aftermath shone through and her cooking was a tribute to Sri Lankan cuisine. The food was all naturally grown in her garden – water melons, aubergines, beans, okra, mangoes and cashews amongst others!

On return to Batticaloa we had our first 30 minutes of chill out time since arrival. It’s been so busy diaries have been abandoned but not forgotten.

Before sunset ,most of the group took an emotional drive to Dutch Bar, a bay badly hit by the tsunami. We were very moved by the devastation. The contrast between the idyllic beach on one side of the road and only foundations of buildings on the other really struck us. As well as the memorial which bore the names of those lost -the oldest born 1925, the youngest only 26 days old - there was the poignancy of a solitary child’s shoe in amongst the rubble and a motorbike on the second floor of a wrecked house placed there in memory of the owner.

We all needed space with our thoughts on the beach. After this Harshana (one of our drivers – a Buddhist) gently reminded us that life is not permanent.

Our reflective mood lightened as we enjoyed an evening meal – yet another home cooked feast – with our deaf friends at the Kalladay project. It was somehow easier communicating with impromptu sign language than with Tamil and Sinhalese! These people really welcomed us and yet again we were overwhelmed by the gracious nature of Sri Lankan hospitality.