Day 1 at the Urani lunch project

OceanStars :: Tuesday 28th October 2008 :: This Story

So, after a morning which has seen the team divide into 3 working groups, Amali, Bron and Kate sallied forth to the Urani playgroup, fondly known as the "Batti Lunch Project". There we were welcomed by about 35 children, aged between 3-5 and their two teachers. Each child presented us with a beautiful garland, which had clearly taken hours to make. The children were dressed in their best "bib and tucker", a stark contrast to the obvious poverty that they live in and a symbol of their respect for the Ocean Stars visitors.

As the morning began, the children sat silently on their chairs, not quite sure what to make of the three mad English women, who had suddenly appeared in their midst. They greeted us politely with "good morning" and as the morning progressed, they slowly lost all their inhibitions.

The morning was spent introducing new games, songs and craft ideas with varying degrees of success/disaster :) It was clear that these activities were unknown territory to them, as many struggled to draw a face or use a glue stick. Our most successful activities included bean bag games, musical chairs, bubbles, "head shoulders knees and toes", and of course the eternally successful "hokey cokey", which crosses all language barriers.

We saw the children prepare for lunch by washing their hands and saying grace before tucking into a meal of rice, a hard boiled egg and 1 prawn. For these desperately poor children, this is their only meal of the day. Before we were treated to lunch, the children left clutching the shakers that they had all made earlier.

A special mention for the two teachers... We have spent one exhausting and action-packed morning in the heat with very lively children. The teachers do this every day and need to be praised and congratulated for the wonderful job that they do. Bron hopes that her efforts at communicating this message was successful. She has promised to learn Tamil for her next visit!! One of the struggles we had today was the language barrier, but hopefully tomorrow they will have remembered the words "head, shoulders, knees and toes!" We are now looking forward to returning tomorrow and seeing all their smiling faces.

After returning briefly to the hotel to pick up the photocopier, we headed to St. Vincents Girls' School where Ocean Stars sponsors 10 girls. All the girls were there to meet us, along with various members of staff. We had a chance to talk with the girls and they all demonstrated their impressive English speaking skills. We each now have many extra pen-pals! Again, our welcome was overwhelming and they showed much generosity towards us.

Having found an internet cafe, we are looking ahead to a tour of one of the tsunami damaged areas and a meal with the the people of the "deaf and dumb project" and some more of the sponsored children.

Kate's thoughts...

"For me, the experiences I am encountering are life changing. The people are all so friendly and welcoming, despite the hardship that many of them are having to live with. The changes seen in the children from when we first meet them to the way that they behave once they have lost their inhibitions is unique. Their smiling faces and laughter will live with me forever.

I would also like to thank Dilanee for giving me the opportunity to share her experiences, and to get to know her people."