Day 5 - Batti Playgroups

OceanStars :: Wednesday 28th October 2009 :: This Story

Today we splt into three groups and went to three (or more) different playgroups. There s an account for each group!

Helena & Bron

Thuraineelawana nursery is a small tin shack standing on the corner of two sandy tracks in the middle of nowhere. It is school for 13 beautiful children who had all turned out in their best, best clothes to greet us with garlands of sweet smelling flowers and overwhelmed us by their generosity and joyful faces. The temperature in the shack was too high, so we decorated amazing crowns and threaded cardboard teddies whilst balancing everything on our knees in the shade of a tree along the sides of the track. Lunch was delivered by hand, dished out on to bowls on the floor of the hut and silence reigned whilst the children tucked into really huge plates full of rice, fish and vegetable curries. Then it was our turn to delight in a veritable feast. A wonderful playgroup with a truly inspiring teacher who remained calm and caring and forgiving whilst we caused chaos in her playgroup.

 

Mandur Nursery – Betty, Yasmin, Kate and Danny

After a 50 minute bus ride we boarded a small ferry on foot carrying all the toys and materials we wanted to use with the children. The bus was unable to come along too because of the precarious state of the ferry although it was already packed full of people, bicycles and motorbikes. The remaining journey was carried out by tuk-tuks, a first for some of the team. The drivers are all budding Jenson Buttons without the appropriate vehicles or flat roads. However they negotiate the cows, endless cycles, haphazard pedestrians and other tuk-tuks with great skill.

The children were wonderful and we were greeted with garlands followed by solo singing performances by a number of the more confident ones. We proceeded to entertain them with threading teddies, 5 little ducks, streamers and numerous action songs. While occupied with children Danny turned his hand to helping with re-fixing doors (to keep the dogs out) and securing windows with metal mesh framework (to keep the birds out). Both should help to stop the necessary daily clean prior to the children coming in. Workforce aplenty, tools lacking and timber an extortionate price.

After a packed morning we went to another nursery in the area that is looking for funding from Ocean Stars. The children were beautifully turned out and again presented us with more flowers. A tasty lunch at the first nursery followed before we had to catch the ferry back.

We then visited a couple of families from the Deaf and Dumb project. Both families are struggling with the very dry conditions though are among the luckier ones as they have been rehoused since the tsunami.

It has been an amazing day and for me (Kate) and lovely to be back among the Batticaloa community. I am saddened to see the impact of the very dry conditions on the local people, many of whom rely on agriculture for a living. The paddy fields are parched and the wells are dry and reports from Bron and Helena tell us that the area around Thur……. nursery no longer has any water – the waterlilies are standing upright on parched ground, and the buffaloes have nowhere to wallow.

 

Wesley High School and Thurukovil Nursery – Ruth, Matt, Dilanee and Maureen

Another early start as, it seems, is the norm for Ocean Stars trips! After about an hours journey we arrived at Wesley High School, in time for their morning assembly. We were warmly welcomed each of us being given several pretty garlands of flowers. Then the grand entrance – we were ushered on to the main stage and introduced to the school who had all gathered in the courtyard in front of us. Initially it felt quite intimidating and overwhelming but the welcome was so warm that we soon relaxed and enjoyed the programme of ‘entertainment’ that the pupils had prepared for us. And what a programme it was – singing, poetry and traditional dance. There were several star performances but the highlight for me was a dance performed by a young girl who is both deaf and dumb. She moved perfectly in time with the music using only the vibrations she could sense as her guide. Dilanee was then invited to speak to the school which she did in her usual calm and caring manner. In fact she positively inspired them to follow their dreams as she was doing with Ocean Stars, for you never know where it might lead or what it might be possible to achieve.

It was hard to drag ourselves away but before long we were on our way once more. Next stop was Thurukovil Nursery. This was Ocean Stars first visit and we had a thoroughly enjoyable morning. The children were relaxed, friendly and full of fun. The two teachers encouraged and supported them constantly and seem to be doing everything they can with the resources they have, to do their best for the children.

Again it was hard to drag ourselves away but Ranchan had planned a busy schedule for the day so off we had to go. Our next appointment was with several of the sponsor families. It is a truly humbling and moving experience to go into these homes. We were waited on hand and foot – nothing was too much trouble. They may materially be less wealthy than ourselves, but at times I feel sure that in spirit, they are the richer people.