Happy Christmas!

Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
Trip End Jul 28, 2006

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Saturday, December 24, 2005

Well 3 weeks is a long time in Sri Lanka and in some ways so much has happened in others we seem to have stood still. We are still living at Blue Horizon having decided to continue to support the local economy and it's not raining quite so much so we don't get as many leaks. We moved out of the "penthouse" as it's now the tourist season and the boss hopes to let the room for 2500 Rs, whereas we are only paying 500. So we now reside on the ground floor not quite so light and airy but it's clean and the shower is brill (by Sri Lankan guesthouse standards). Last week a Chef arrived but only lasted 2 nights, we are afraid that Chris scared him off when she asked for Spaghetti carbonara and he cooked her something weird with tomatoes, prawns and calamari. So the second night she taught him and the owner how to cook the said dish. Can you imagine an English woman teaching two Sri Lankan men how to cook Italian food? So the next day the chef has gone!! Ishan the "boy" who does all the work at Blue Horizon is now learning to cook and can do a mean omelette as well as rice and curry so we're not starving.

Building work has started at two of Paul's sites....... more of that later and Chris is now the Twins Manager, which means she is overseeing the 100 Sri Lankan schools twinned with UK and OZ schools. The school for deaf children still doesn't have enough food or water and we are still trying to find enough money to buy additional beds so that they don't have to share. On a good note the building work is all finished so at least they have nice bright and airy dormitories to sleep in.

We have been here in Sri Lanka now for 6 weeks we can't believe how quickly the time is going. Our life is so different and we are amazed at how we have settled into our new routine. The first night we thought we'd never be able to stick it, now we're sad that we are half way through our stay and are dreading leaving.

Before we came out here some of you gave us money to give to a worthwhile cause, there is so much we could spend it on but having had a traumatic experience with a man begging for food for his family (Chris gave him the equivalent of 50p and he bent and kissed her feet....can't begin to tell you how that makes you feel). We heard that the government have stopped giving money to the people who lost their homes and are still living in the refugee camps. Many do not have jobs because they lost them along with their homes and all possessions so have no money. So we decided to take food and small gifts for children to one of the camps. Chris went along with a French girl called Gaelle (who she's managed to recruit to work for ASL) to Powerloom camp here in Tangalle. There are 13 families living there and 15 children ranging from age 1 to 18 years.

Anna, I have enough money from you to go to another camp later this week, so will go to the Oxfam Camp also here in Tangalle. Oxfam built the camp, which comprises of wooden huts, one for each of the 11 families. There is a tap for drinking water, which comes from a water tank and basic sanitation but it is pretty awful. The temperature here is in excess of 30 and we have many thunderstorms with very heavy rain, which then turns the site into a mud bath. The huts are stifling in the heat but in spite of this the children and their families are always smiling and love visitors. There is light at the end of this particular tunnel as a group of Canadian people have raised money to buy some land and are here at the moment starting on building houses. Paul has helped them to sort out some of the detail, it will take around 6 months for the work to be finished, but we are hoping the first 3 - 6 houses will be finished before we leave. The site is beautiful with many different fruit trees it will be so lovely for the people from the camp. I need to find out how many children there are and will get a small gift for them along with supplies as per the list below.

We have enough money to help 3 camps so have another place in mind. Paul is involved with building houses for some displaced Tamil people who get a raw deal in this area because they are from the North East of the country, which is where the Tamil Tigers are based. We have heard from locals that since the election of the new President a couple of weeks ago there is likely to be another Civil War, we're keeping an eye on the Foreign Office website! I haven't been to this camp yet so don't know what the conditions are like, there are 18 houses being built so we assume that's how many families there are. The site where the houses are being built is appalling, the local council asked Adopt Sri Lanka to buy it and build houses for the Tamils, what they didn't say is that the land was a rubbish tip!! That said the Tamil people themselves are so happy that they will have a house they don't seem too worried. The only thing, which bothers us is that we have heard that one part of the site was used to dump Tsunami rubble and so there is a chance that there are undiscovered bodies. At the moment this part has been left undisturbed whilst further investigations are made.
This what 50 bought, we took advice from some Sri Lankan friends about what might be appropriate. When you see all of the beautiful fresh fish available here we were surprised that they would want tinned salmon but it's a little luxury here so why not? The thing I wouldn't have thought of getting was the panadol but I guess it's a cure all and if you live in a shed in this heat here you're likely to suffer with headaches.

130 kilo's of rice
26 kilo's of sugar
52 x 100grms packets of tea
13 kilo's on dahl
26 strips of Panadol
13 large tins of Salmon

3 tea shirt and short sets (for the babies )
2 pencil cases, sharpeners, packets of 12 coloured pencils (for the pre school children)
9 maths sets (protractors, compass etc) For the primary and secondary children
nail varnish for an 18 year old girl
12 drawing books for everyone except the babies
12 writing books ditto

We're finding out what a small world we have, since being here we have had a visit from one of the teachers at Walton Priory middle school, Stone. One of the other volunteers is from Stafford and her Mom came out to visit last week. Last night we had dinner with some French travellers only to find that Paul and one of the guys Francois, have climbing friends in common. Chris bumped into her tour guide from two years ago whilst shopping in Colombo and one of the other volunteers, Claire went to school with one of the late Lord Lichfield's daughters.

We've decided to spend 5 days over Christmas in the hill country at a small place called Ella as we don't want to be here in Tangalle on 26th, which will be the first anniversary of the Tsunami. Instead we'll spend a reflective and peaceful day walking in a beautiful place called Horton Plains, climb Adams Peak on Paul's birthday (yes even Chris!) and generally chill. So friends we wish you all a very Happy Christmas and even merrier New Year 2006.
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