SITUATION IN SRI LANKA
Everything is calming down and we are all okay. There was news of an armed device exploded by the bomb squad in Colombo yesterday. But it was part of the original well-coordinated attack. A number of people are in custody captured at a house in Colombo and in a van trying to escape. Here in Tangalle the Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils are going about their business and daily lives as usual and in harmony. There is a military presence and nightly curfew which is normal for situations like this in Sri Lanka and very reassuring to all of us.
Other than separating for our work days, which are in the rural countryside, we stay together. As of tonight, everyone will finalize their plans for returning home – most staying with original flights or moving forward if they planned to stay. We heard from British friends about the situation commuting to the airport and checking in. Very reassuring. No issues reported on toll road up to airport. Thorough military checks of all people and vehicles entering airport. Only people with boarding passes for international departures are allowed into the airport. High security and luggage screening to pass through immediately on entering the airport building which is normal. Then on to check in and regular security. We need to be there 4 hours ahead of time.
The teams worked very hard at their sites yesterday and made huge progress – thank you all for your courage and hard work. It is encouraging to our Sri Lankan friends that we are here and believe in them. We are very sad for this wonderful, beautiful country and its people with the devastating impact of these attacks on so many – today and for some time to come.
In our final days in Sri Lanka, we’re working extra hard to put the final finish on the floors – which is quite an art – and clean up the space. At the 11th hour, there was a load of sand delivered which needed to make it to the second floor. Go team! After the news about the blasts, it was a welcome distraction to work in support of these beautiful people and resilient people.
We also spent some quality time with the beautiful children here at Canadapura, listening to their progress with the English language through song, speeches and plays.
Although saddened by the horrific events that occurred yesterday in Colombo, we still found reasons to be grateful at our build site today. And music was the underlying factor behind it all! The day began with a rousing rendition of Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head sung by today’s “Painter Sisters”—Mary Jean, Coleen and Beth. Then, motivated by rocking 80’s tunes courtesy of Coleen and her phone, Bruce and the Sisters painted interior and exterior walls while Ian, “The Sand Man” McFall sanded and varnished window and door ledges with his new best friends. Midway through the morning, Beth and Mary Jean invented a dance called “The Gimba” – created to avoid the frog that popped out of nowhere and gave them both a minor heart attack!!
And speaking of dancing, after our excellent tea served with ginger cookies, we travelled back a decade or two to the 70’s and 60’s which got our 9-year-old pal Danuka dancing. Joined by Coleen, he and his cousin Deuni cut an impressive rug to Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual! The afternoon involved more painting, varnishing windows and doors, and skim coat application on the front walk and electricity install by Podi and his workers. We danced out the door today feeling like a lot was accomplished!
Nothing was stopping this team today. Brickwork to do and parging the first wall of the house. Amazing progress. The contrast between the old and new house is quite startling to see every day. Don was #1 assistant to the mason balancing on the top of the house to finish the peak of the roof. Penny, George and Hilary got the wall done with some finishing by Danushka. Whenever Hilary is at a worksite she makes it fun for everyone. Today she was learning more Sinhala words and got laughs from everyone when she asked what the word was for crazy or “cuckoo”.
Janet was busy sifting sand and spending time with this very special family. Jeevan functions very well and is supported by a very smart wife who has good English and is teaching their 4-year-old daughter both English and Sinhala. Thenuli is a very competent artist already and gave Janet a picture she did as a gift to take home for her grandchildren.
At the end of the day we visited the English classes supported by TRIP Canada. The smiles on the faces of Jeevan’s family and all the children are hugely rewarding.
A heartfelt thank you to all our volunteers and donors. You are making a difference in so many lives.