Posted in Sri Lanka on October 24, 2023
Our first DWC trip has been nothing short of amazing. Sri Lanka has given us a chance to experience a new culture, new people and meet new friends.
On the first day on the job site we were met by some extremely enthusiastic kids dressed to perfection at the entrance to their school. Not only the dress, but they were standing at perfect attention and ready to welcome us to their school with a full honours drum band!!
With some shinning eyes and one big smile the band major raised his staff and with a humble confidence ordered his band to begin. The band expertly began and they marched us right up to their school. The excitement and pride of all the children is something we will remember.
The work has definitely been work, but having the children joining in and wanting to help has definitely made it worth while. The charades and little unknowing giggles makes the blisters on the hands worth while!
We can’t wait to see what the next days bring!!
Day Two of our project at Welikanda School opened with us taking a break soon after we started to watch the schoolchildren take part in the annual Perahera procession – a Buddhist tradition. The children were all dressed up in various costumes accompanied by drummers, children carrying flowers and led by one of the children with a rope whip which he expertly cracked periodically. The procession travelled from the school down to the local road and back accompanied by parents.
Following the festivities work resumed on mixing a double batch of cement lime mortar, as we had two tradesmen today to work on plastering the classroom walls. Today they concentrated on one of the end walls working from scaffolding. By the end of the day, three batches of mortar had been applied and lime wash applied over the finished plaster. As part of this wall, a channel had to be chiseled out for an electrical conduit before the plaster was applied (a dusty job).
The bank behind the school continued to be re-sloped using crow bars and the material moved by wheelbarrow or bucket to the front of the school where the bank is also being re-sloped to reduce erosion. The ‘soil’ packs down easily and is hard work to rehandle! In the afternoon, a few children who stayed after their school day was finished, were enthusiastic helpers both with the wheelbarrow and sifting the sand.
The local parents once again came up with a lovely lunch and snacks this time featuring egg, a beetroot dish, dhal and a vegetable dish using the ‘leaves’ we had bought at the school fair the day before. The walk back to the school had some added excitement for two of the team as they encountered a large, but apparently harmless, snake on the road.
We are getting into a rhythm now with our various work assignments. We had new parents helping us today so new names to try and master but also new relationships to develop. The sand and cement was already measured ready for us to mix when we arrived at the school at 8:30am.
The crew working on the earth bank behind the new classroom got to work with crowbars, shovels, wheelbarrows, and buckets.
Work progressed faster today on the end wall and by the end of the day the plastering had been finished, the lime applied and a strip of blackboard painted across the whole wall made using iron oxide and cement. Our plasterer let some of us apply mortar and lime to one of the lower wall sections. He has very exacting standards but eventually we got our wall section passed.
Another delicious lunch including jackfruit curry was provided at a local parents house. We also saw the fishmonger driving around selling fresh fish from his motorbike, and the bakery truck selling bread and baked goods. Not sure how they make it up some of the steep narrow concrete roads.
The earth bank removal progressed well and in the afternoon we were enthusiastically helped by a few of the children again.
Always time for some fun too. Russ with the boys wheelbarrow crew today
You could tell the motivation of our team by the chatter on the van ride to our School project. Talk had drastically shifted from how to turn on the water heater to cement: sand: water ratio for plaster!
Our day today was a combination of ‘mudding the walls’ hauling gems, (dirt loaded with quartz crystal) and digging the earth wall beside the building.
The children were writing special exams today and by end of day many of them came back to help work and play. Their initial shyness has turned into eager curiosity about us. They took great fun in having some of us join their cricket game and we participated in funny horseplay with some ice a girl brought.
They are now showing us their pets, asking questions, and waving hello at every opportunity. Lunch and tea times are supplied by local parents who take turns. This has turned out to be a great opportunity to taste local recipes which are delicious and an even better opportunity to interact with the families.
Posted in Sri Lanka on October 24, 2023