Lucky 13 for TRIP team to Sri Lanka April 26, 2017

Mountain valley Sri Lanka

Posted in on April 26, 2017

April 25

Here’s a last look at this fantastic team at work!

April 24

Last night we had an incredible dinner at Palm Paradise – a hotel many of the previous volunteers will remember having stayed there on four previous trips. Lots of fun in the medical chairs!

A few nostalgic visits today. After breakfast, off to the temple at Palathaduwa where we saw several buildings completed by volunteers on previous trips. We toured the old temple and the school we rebuilt across the street and were delighted to see how lovely and well-kept these properties are.

Lunch was at the Ketakalawatta Village, the community built by TRIP Canada for 24 tsunami families. We were hosted by Senevi, Chamalie and their family who take good care of the village, the community centre and us. Watching them grow and prosper has been very special to us. The village looks so good.

At the work site, we reached several significant milestones today – completed painting the outside of the original orphanage including their small place of worship – and on the new construction, finished three rooms and most of the outside walls. Makes us all very happy.

The laugh of the day was at breakfast when Bruce interjected – at exactly the right time in the conversation – that with this group, it was challenging for men to get in a word with so many women on the team (four men and nine women). LOL – guess you had to be here! We laugh a lot and easily.

The day was topped off with pretty cool dinner at Buckingham Place. We haven’t experienced Nick’s new digs before – quite spectacular.

Susan Davidson,

DWC volunteer, Sri Lanka, April 2017

April 23

Breakfast was a little subdued this morning after everybody enjoyed their day off. When asked “How is Sri Lanka,” my response has been “Everything hurts except my heart,” and that was particularly true today.  We all seem to feel the work we have put in this week and I have loved every minute of it.  I have never been more exhausted or filled with joy.

The day started with a trip to see our hostess Raelene’s plot of land.  She has taken such great care of us at Moonstone Villas and it was exciting to see what she has planned for her next step.

Then on to the market! I had my eye on some spices and my camera in my hand. I tried to be a little sneaky taking photos at first, fearing the vendors might get self-conscious or angry with me. Yet I found the opposite to be true! So many people smiled and chatted with me, saying “Canada?” when they saw the logo on my Trip Canada shirt.  The market did NOT disappoint. Just like the rest of this beautiful country, the colors are simply incredible.  The fabrics. The produce. Everything.

146 This woman enjoyed speaking English and recognized ‘Canada’ flag on Erin’s t-shirt.

It was good we had a limited amount of time because you really could get lost there. I had a great conversation with a woman who was bunching herbs and wanted to practice some of her English with me. She had such a great, shy smile when I asked if I could take her picture! Eventually I remembered I had an agenda and tracked down some dried chillis, saffron, cloves, lentils, and curry powder. I grabbed some elephant fabric on the way to the van and off we went to get to work!

I have had fun being part of what Don has called “The Bucket Brigade.” The other members switch up with Amalie, Coleen, Don, Linda, Bruce and Ron all helping me out today. We are using a bucket and pulley system to get the sand for cement and plaster from the ground up to the second level of the orphanage where we are working. My job is to grab the bucket once it is lifted up and hand it off to be dumped through the first sifter. I was once afraid of heights so it is exciting how comfortable and confident I feel doing this!

152 Erin leads the ‘Bucket Brigade’ to get sand to the second floor for mortar and plaster.

But that is what this trip does. Challenge you to find your strengths and work with them as part of the team.

So far I have been amazed at what we have accomplished together – the plastering on the second floor is almost done and the old building is looking great with a fresh coat of paint – and I cannot wait to celebrate our job well done at the end of the trip!

Erin Campbell,

DWC volunteer, Sri Lanka, April 2017

April 22

139 Kal is a favorite with TRIP volunteers. With us since the beginning of our time here.

The team has done an amazing job this week. Temple finished, four new rooms well underway at the orphanage and the old building looking good with a fresh coat of paint! There are lots of options for our day off:

  • Erin and Stacie choose the Elephant Park tour and don’t mind the 4:30 a.m. departure.
  • Others visit historic towns taking in local culture with time to shop.
  • Am and Don visit with Kal and his family. Kal has worked for TRIP Canada starting with Team 1 and is much loved by the volunteers for his encouragement and friendliness. Always smiling!
  • Beach walks, massages and leisurely lunches.
  • At the end of the day we gather at the pool to share our stories.

Bruce McKelvey,

DWC volunteer, Sri Lanka, April 2017

April 21

Today was a great day – we started early and made our way to Canadapura to continue our work.  Susan’s speaker was finally put to use as I plugged in my phone, created a playlist and the fun began. Everyone seemed to enjoy the music – as there was quite a bit of singing and dancing going on. The music definitely brought a different energy to our day, the children loved it. Stacie and I used paint brushes as a microphone and sang to Ed Sheeran. Podi (our lovely construction boss) appeared to enjoy our performance.

All the children showed great interest in helping us with our work, especially painting! They wanted to paint at every moment they could get their hands on a brush or a roller. All the girls approved of the colour, a beautiful mint. Other than accidentally painting the floor, they did a pretty good job! From the first day we got to Canadapura to today, the children have broken out of their shells and the shyness has faded. They are cheerful, smiley and engage with us all. It’s pretty special and wonderful to be around them.

119 Nimantha gets it and makes a great pass.

After lunch, Coleen and Stacie started to teach them our way to play ‘football’ and they caught on really quickly.

As the painting team worked downstairs, the other volunteers continued their work on the second floor – moving sand, making plaster, building walls and lots of parging. Everyone is pretty tired and looking forward to our beach BBQ tonight and a day off tomorrow. Another productive, fun and successful day done!

Natalie Ifergan,

DWC volunteer, Sri Lanka, April 2017

April 20

Our morning started off with a trip to the female monk’s temple. This is a temple that TRIP Canada rebuilt a couple of years ago. We saw the playground as well as all of the inside work the group did and we were graced by the presence of not only the monk but some beautiful children.

Then we headed to Canadapura for another day of hard work. I built some walls today which was a big success and one of the locals, Kal, told me I was a great mason so that was a big compliment!

Erin tried her hand at parging – really enjoyed it and John became pretty good at brick laying thanks to the great teaching of Nilantha. The brick movers got the job done moving everything to the second floor.

Overall, the group made a lot of progress. Brick laying, parging, sand sifting and painting. At lunch we took some time to talk with the children and play soccer with them. They loved it, but truthfully the volunteers had a blast as well. Having the kids around really makes this special.

The paint team, led by Susan, is working to refresh the older building at the orphanage that definitely needs it. As soon as the kids saw what they were doing, they jumped in to help. They are hard workers and really make the job fun.

After finishing our day at the job site, we headed to the school where they teach English class. TRIP Canada has been sponsoring the English classes here for years.

The kids eagerly join in.

The kids greeted us all with flowers and were so sweet! We sat in on a lesson which the teacher let the volunteers participate in and the kids did very well. You could tell they’re learning a lot and they were able to understand and communicate with us. They also did a drawing as part of the lesson. I think we have some artists in the making… and I’m definitely not talking about the volunteers. Ha ha!

We ended the night at a nice restaurant called the Cactus Lounge. Great food (best prawns in Tangalle – maybe all of Sri Lanka) and great company! Bring on tomorrow.

Stacie Gibbs,

DWC volunteer, Sri Lanka, April 2017

April 19

The day began with the Canadians arriving at the temple we had been working on for the last couple of days to bring it closer to its former glory. The monk was there to provide the blessing for the temple. The blessing involves the string ceremony.

The monk chants a sacred text offering protection to those present and for the temple. For this protection to be attained, a string is passed around which everyone holds while the chanting takes place. All those holding the string at this time are now spiritually connected. A ward is created using the thread and is tied around the wrists of all present. This is called a pirith noola. The pirith noola confers protection from bad luck. Before the monk ties the string around your wrist, he pours a small amount of water into your hands. You taste the water and sprinkle the rest on your head.

The plaque honouring TRIP Canada for its contributions is revealed and the ribbon cut.

Following the ceremony there is, of course, tea and some food. One of the food items was wrapped in a banana leaf. Janet offers up 1,000 rupees to anyone who will try the banana leaf wrapped delicacy. I take the bet. The contents of the leaf, although not entirely known, seem to contain coconut wrapped in a doughy mixture of perhaps rice flour and treacle.

The most important part of this tasty treat is that the banana leaf is to be removed before indulging. It is wrapped only for the baking process. This we learned after we were halfway through the dessert with the locals having a little chuckle at our expense.

A lovely ceremony, a lesson learned and 1,000 rupees for the kids.

After the ceremony, we set off to Canadapura to begin work on the bigger project that we started last year. With the second floor well underway, the building is huge! Upon completion it will be able to offer so many more rooms to house children in need of refuge.

It was lovely to be greeted by some of the children and see a number of familiar, smiling faces. They have really grown and changed since last year.

Working today included moving bricks and sand to the second floor – a new challenge for the volunteers. And it would not be a work site without some sand sifting and some parging. As the building is quite open, it offered a cooling breeze which was welcomed on this very hot day.

A quick dip in the beautiful and rugged Indian Ocean is a great way to end the work day followed by a delicious lime drink. Now we have time to enjoy some new friends and have some great pizza.

DWC volunteer, Sri Lanka, April 2017

April 18

Our first day in Tangalle ended with a dinner and celebration with some scholarship students and their families. Two recent graduates, Thilinin and Chaskia, were sponsored by TRIP Canada and had recently completed studies in accounting and dentistry. Each young woman received a watch in recognition of her efforts. Very proud mothers and new friends celebrated their success.

It is our second full day of work and everyone seems to have now settled in, shaken the jet lag and we all arrived at the Bodiya Temple ready for work – combined with some play. Routines seem to have set in and by the end of the day most of the painting and cement work that we could do was complete.

During lunch we were treated to fresh coconut – our natural electrolytes making Bruce happy that we are all getting them! The treat was provided by a local gentleman in appreciation for our efforts at the temple.

The Bodiya Temple is across the street from a local marina where a few of the crew took the opportunity to tour and meet some of the fisherman. After work, some took advantage of a dip in the ocean or pool. Great to get refreshed after the incredible heat and hard work.

A few of us took in the evening tour to the Mulkirigala Rock Temple. The temple is an archaeological Buddhist Temple built on a rock 205m above sea level and there are 533 steps to the summit. A special thank you to Deepal for driving and guiding us through the temple. Now we are off for a fish dinner by the ocean.

Don Brimacombe,

DWC volunteer, Sri Lanka, April 2017

April 17

Day one of 13? Most of the 13 members of team 13 have arrived – the last two come tomorrow. Not sure if anyone is superstitious, but they tell us 13 is a lucky number in Sri Lanka.

A few of us – John, Linda, Amalie and Don – have been here for some personal travel and enjoyed the festivities of the Sinhala-Tamil New Year.

Amalie, Bruce and Janet checked out our two worksites early in the day and the second floor of the orphanage is well under way! They were worried there wasn’t going to be enough work for us. Not a chance!

Our welcome dinner set the stage for the great food ahead and all the fun we will have together.

Monday we got to work at the Bodiya Temple – an important community gathering place on the edge of the ocean that was destroyed by the tsunami. TRIP has been helping with the rebuild for the last few years and they saved the final work for us. Really hot – hard work – lots of fun with many curious families and children to encourage us! We painted inside and out and some started to learn the fine art of parging.

Janet and Linda,

DWC team leader and volunteer, Sri Lanka, April 2017

April 10

Through the generosity of our donors and the hard work of the Sri Lankan labourers, the roof is up on the new building at Canadapura Children’s Village – and the kids are pretty excited that there will soon be room to welcome others to a new home. The next step is for TRIP Canada Team 13 to build four new dormitory rooms. There are 13 keen volunteers getting ready to leave this week.

A warm welcome to our new volunteers: Carol Anne Maybin, Erin Campbell, Don Brimacombe, Linda and John Housser, Natalie Ifergan, Stacie Gibbs and Ron Morrison.

Returning because they just can’t stay away: Coleen Beeton, Susan Davidson, Amalie Bruun and, of course, the McKelveys.

The team is an action starting April 17.

Janet McKelvey,

DWC team leader, Sri Lanka, April 2017

Posted in on April 26, 2017