Elephants and Eggplants

Trip Start May 21, 2007
Trip End Aug 08, 2015

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

So, AnnaKins and Jackson are here again to regale you all with stories of our latest adventures!
Yesterday (Monday) was one of those random bank holidays they seem to have quite a lot here in Sri Lanka! In the morning we spent quite a while sweeping the yard in which the children play. This area used to be wasteland and consequently there are a lot of sharp rocks, glass and bit of plastic littering the playground. Obviously this is quite dangerous for the children and the staff as everyone walks around in bare feet. We grabbed a few buckets and had a tidy up!
After a snack lunch we got in the van and went to Udawalewe. This is a safari park about 2 hours from Hambantota. Once there we found a jeep and piled in with a guide to take us around the park. Fortunately when, at one very scary moment, the driver decided to switch the engine off just as a herd of elephants decided to get a bit cross and charge at us, the guide was able to fend them off with only his baseball cap. Not something you see every day! As well as many beautiful 'alyias', we also saw peacocks, eagles, bee eaters and water buffalo.
Today it was back to work for the team. Pam auntie, Colin, Holly and Katie were in the school; Ruthie Baby was a wee bit sickly so took it easy and AnnaKins and Jackson held the fort in the kitchen, chopping nigh on 807 aubergines; also onions, tomatoes, spinach and garlic. The chopping of the aubergines has possibly scarred us for life, but gave us the opportunity to mull over some of our experiences so far...
One thing that particularly struck us was the humble attitude of so many of the people around us. They often have so little but are willing to give anything to help Smile and the volunteers here. When talking to Parwadi, the head cook at Smile Lanka, she told us that she cooks before she comes to the centre, then cooks 2 meals for 170 children and staff, then returns home to cook for her family. When asked if she enjoys cooking, she just shrugged but had a smile on her face and not a word of complaint. She, and everyone else we're coming in contact with, are happy and willing to just get on with the job in hand.
When trying to imagine this attitude being met at home it is sadly quite difficult. Often when we're asked to do something we immediately think of how it will put us out and how inconvenient it will be for us - an attitude that is totally alien to these people here.
We hope that our time here at Smile Lanka will enable us to develop this kind of mindset, where giving is always a pleasure and never a chore. We are learning so much already about how great a witness our actions can be. We don't understand the prayers the staff offer in morning devotions but their passion and enthusiasm throughout the day shines through all communication barriers.
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