Thursday, 1 August 2013

Eagle House August 2013

Triumphs and Troubles

Well my troubles with computers are , hopefully, over.  I sent a report by email earlier in the year but I intend to get back to this blog from now on, having spent my ticket money home on a new Mac which is proving wonderful. The 2 other laptops have succumbed to the climate and are mechanically useless.

So this post will be a quick review of recent months at Eagle House.
A wonderful event was  our participation in the Hikkaduwa Perehera .

This is the senior Kandian dance group in traditional costumes .

the junior group holding their twirling sticks made from deconstructed white plastic flour bags. Below are some of the parents making them. The mother is sitting on the original sink and cooking fire of the house before the facilities were moved into the kitchen

The youngest  class complete with woolly beards and moustaches ready for their umbrella dance. The youngest taking part in the 6 kilometre long Perehera parade was 4 years old......much to the disappointment of a couple of very small  3 year olds who we felt should not take part.

The Dancers set off at midday and got back at 8.30pm. the children were much less exhausted than the parents! I spent the afternoon ferrying bottles of water, elastoplasts and  boiled sweets between different points of the walk .. safe and relatively cool in a tuk yuk.  There were 11 elephants in the parade and the one following our dancers disgraced himself by uprooting a whole banana tree from a garden and weilding it around.  He had to be rested while the tree was removed from his trunk!

here is Zigger
waiting in the tuk tuk covered in wet cloths to keep him cool.

 Waiting for the elephant !
 Parents giving out the water. 
On the move again with the elephant behind the senior group 
Everyone was very proud of the dancers and I was very pleased at the input of parents in the preparations and the hard work of our dancing teacher Thushami, here with her son. 

Some pictures around the house

the communal washing place opposite Eagle house gate. The tree fell from behind this well right across the road bringing down the power lines and smashing our gate and the front of the house roof.

the lanterns the art group made for the Vesak festival.

music class with teacher Prasad

Pictures of Mangelika who is my right hand woman, cleaner, singhala translator , manager of all work, and good friend.
bringing in the harvest of King Coconuts from the garden.
Hanging the art work on the Shiney tree.
With Lal, a parent and tuk yuk driver fitting a new mosquito cover to our well from which we pump water into the house. On her birthday we visited the Japanese Peace temple near Galle. 

Some not so good events. 
That picture of Mangelika was earlier in the year before the tragedy of her eldest son Chaminde dying after his tuk tuk crashed . He was a lovely young man aged 29 who was always helpful to the project . For a few days we hoped he would recover and he was able to recognize his mother but the internal injuries were too great and he died on the Sri Lankan new year in April. Being part of the funeral and mourning rites was for me both an honour and very distressing. 

Tree falls on the house

 A very lucky escape. 
Early morning, about 6.0am  I went out to see the fallen trees on the road and the damage done by the storm. As I returned to the front door there was a horrendous noise of splitting wood and tearing metal as a huge tree crashed about a foot from me. Zigger was under the branches in the garden but came trotting out unharmed when I screamed!
A neighbour crawled through the fence to help and soon many people were helping , the tree was cut up and sold by the owner and the electricity and phone lines were repaired and my garden cleared by 3.0pm. 
The next day a temporary repair was made to the roof but I am still putting out buckets and mopping up water after rain. The owner of the tree has no money and Im not sure when we will get the gate replaced or the roof properly mended. 

Kaliana sweeping the garden, which she keeps clean and tends the flowers.

All the classes are going well including  my teaching at a local charity The Foundation of Goodness. There each week I work with a group of psychosocial workers. They tour the area visiting villages and orphanages working with groups and individuals of all ages on mental health issues.
The main topics of our work are depression, anger management and self esteem activities for children.
My work in Uk and my publications are proving very useful. It's slow teaching as my Sinhlala is not much good and so everything needs to be translated. Its quite a good way to teach as it forces me to consider each word carefully and gives time to think.

At Eagle house we have a routine now of classes over 4 days. Three dance classes, two computer classes for adults, art group, music and children's band, digital cameras class, sewing class for women, and English conversation. And every month we have a film night for families. 

As I write Lal is cleaning and bleaching the water tank and changing the gas cylinder. Mangelika is at her home preparing for a devil dance festival at the nearby small temple , Zigger is snoring under the bed and I will soon be walking him down to the beach as I do every evening. The last few months have been sometimes difficult health wise for both him and me but we are doing well now. My diet is very restricted but worth feeling well. Annoying that I can no longer eat the delicious fruit around me.

I so much value the contact with friends in UK who listen to my moans and take interest in all the activities here. Until October there will be few tourists and most cafes and shops will be closed. We plan to open two guest rooms, one with airconditioning and make a little money that way. Do come and visit !
Money is tight as the double rise in electricity prices has affected everything. So we are very grateful for your continuing support in whatever form. Hullaballoo Quire in Brighton is managing to consume plenty of cakes in the tea breaks to keep us going .
I am very pleased with the classes, and the peoples pleasure as they enjoy learning new skills is wonderful. The sewing class is beginning to create goods to sell and I'm hoping a small women's home working group will continue. But more of my plans for the future next blog.
So I hope you are enjoying your Summer. And I will be seeing you this time next year.

Much love
Eddi and Zigger.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Tsunami alert, scorpions, new classes, new money!

Greetings |Friends,   from a very sunny Sura Medura
Not many pictures of our activities today as my valiant little notebook came up with a message to say it had  lost its operating system ! Poor thing , I sometimes know what that feels like ! I've also" lost" my camera so am relying on my mobile phone and my IPAD for photographs over the last few months.  MUST  back up to the spare hard drive more often!! .

The Tsunami Alert  was the most dramatic event recently.
Many systems I attempt to put in place here either don't work because I'm being unrealistic or because I confuse myself and others with them. Like - I just changed the lock on the front door due to the "loss" of the key. Then I found the key securely hidden under an upstairs mattress where I'd put it the day of the Tsunami alert .
I'm not surprised that I had forgotten what I'd done as I was , it seemed to me irrationally and unusually , pretty scared as I hastily decided what should be moved upstairs and what was essential to " save" .
You can imagine that the effect of a serious alert on the people who survived the 2004 Tsunami was traumatic.
Most people got on with evacuation and all the Europeans who would move from the beach were speedily ferried to safe ground but when the all clear was given there were quite a few people very shaky.
As I sat in the first floor accommodation with a couple of Canadian guests I kept remembering the TV pictures I was watching on Boxing Day 2004 and the amateur photographs in the local small museum here in Hikkaduwa.
  The dogs and monkeys started to run inland on the first earthquake tremor , Valy came belting into the house as if to say "I'm off" and then went missing for two days returning without her collar and very dirty. Zigger stayed under any bed he could find and was very frightened.
I noticed that the birds did not disaappear and was comforted by that as I had read somewhere that in 2004 the birds also flew inland.
Of course this house upstairs is very safe and a long way from any predicted flood waters. I was imagining being inundated with homeless people and wondering how I would be able to cope with that.
 Since the alert Mangelika and I have been making up an emergency box of water, rice, milk powder,tins of tuna, candles and batteries etc. And I realised that I need waterproof containers for important documents .After the 2004 Tsunami many peoples lives were seriously damaged by the loss of papers, land documents, qualification certificates, passports etc

However,even the electricity didn't go off so all was well. The alert systems in Hikkaduwa didn't work but police and word of mouth were excellent.
The alert was followed by several days of serious tropical storms which have kept us away from windows and avoiding electric items and of course sent Zigger barking to the darkest corner he can find.

Sisira the caretaker/night guard is always impresing on me the need to LOOK,Look Look !! and that has paid off as I've come across a  couple of nasty big black scorpions , one right next to my bare foot on the bathmat. They  were dealt with in a very nonbuddhist style.

 In April we  had the birth and consequent stink of 3 baby polecats being born in the ceiling space and 2 kittens born in a kitchen cupboard.  The other consequence is a  barking zigger who objects strongly to the invasion by cats. I cant leave any windows open at the moment as the mother cat tries to get back into the house even though we've found a safe place for her and the kittens outside. 

The Camera Class is now taken by a local woman Emesha  who sat in on Jenny Smith's classes in the Autumn and she is helped by Alex a young man who takes part in most activities and helps out in several ways. 
Last weeks task was to capture interesting textures in the garden.
My Laptop skills are not enough to allow me to arrange the pictures on this blog as I want, so sorry for the messy lay out. 
the class choose their favourite pictures to mount in their albums.

Film Night
Our January film night was a great success. a film about an arrogant touring British cricket team challenging a small Sri Lankan village to a match.  By various hilarious means the underdog ends up winning, of course with a fair smattering of love and heartbreak thrown to the plot. Part in English and with English subtitles it was a good evening. 
Film nights will now be enhanced , and less expensive because of our new donated projector which means I don't have to hire one every month and can also show short films in the English conversation classes.

Money, Relief , new purchases.
The most important news is in the letter on the front of the web site - the amazing relief of having enough funding to be secure to continue the monthly classes.
I had not realised how much anxiety funding was causing  me . A great weight has been taken off me and I am determined to make the very most of the amazing generosity of you all.
I have really enjoyed working out the best value for money and purchasing items to make life a lot easier, reduce the electricity bill and service new classes.
the list includes --2 sewing machines , a proper wheelchair ramp, shelves in the kitchen, a cold water washing machine, 2 large lockable plastic storage cupboards, a new film projector, electric extension cables, some decent quality scissors, a new water filter, getting the computers serviced, increasing the fee for the helpers to cover the local increase in bus and tuk tuk fares, a paper cutter, a set of |Sinhala books for the art class, a new keyboard for music class and a stand for it.
A set of plastic shelving so that we can get "stuff " out of boxes and store sensibly, making a volley ball court. increasing the fee of the Dance teacher to a much more reasonable amount for her time and skill.
 A new airtight door on the computer room to save electricity on the airconditioning and some shelves so we don't have to lift everything in and out of that room for different classes. And a range of smaller things like a dish drainer and a decent new washing up bowl and a big dustbin and some new cushion covers, long;life light bulbs to save electricity, an iron and ironing board for the sewing class.
Prices are different from UK e.g.some things seem very cheap to me and some very expensive. Mahogany is used as a matter of course for wooden furniture and the alternative is plastic which sometimes is ok sometimes not. I've used local tradespeople to make items for us and local shops for buying things.

So thank you all

If you could have been present when 5 year old Yusemi met me after receiving her wheel chair, and seen the joy all round you would have found it hard not to weep ,as I did.  The project only contributed a small amount of money to that but set in motion a local intiative which raised the money and has transformed that family to a positive view of the future.

NEW Sewing classes begin
Its not a secret I disclose to many but I am actually a fully qualified needlework teacher. - the kind who can teach but not do!
So the new sewing class with 2 new treadle Singer machines is underway with a local very skilled seamstress. I provide the lesson plans and try to help her to teach and not do it all for the ladies. So far its been   pincushions, shopping bags and next time nightgowns.
Thanks to Hulla for the odds and sods of sewing pins etc that are difficult to buy locally.A big help to get us started. and thanks to Hazel for collecting and sending.
NEW Computer Internet club
This is one afternoon a week and the computer teacher comes in to help people practise the skills they learned in the 7 week basic course. There are Internet cafes open in the tourist area but local older people would feel odd about using them and they are not cheap/
ART Class and the  VESAK festival 
May is the time for VESAK a commemoration of the birth and the death month of  Lord Buddha.
People light their gardens with a range of tiny oil lamps. complex candle lit paper lanterns and now more modern electric lanterns sheathed in plastic against the rain.
|Alex with the lanterns he helped to make

in the garden

Alex teaches Thusange to make lanterns in traditional style

So the Art class made Cards for their relatives and some lanterns for Sura Medura. Here is a picture of the porch lit with lanterns  and oil lamps .
Music class now has total of 4 keyboards and 10 students aged 8 - 16 years and sounds dreadful !! They all play different scales at the same time. And of course the dance class with a total of 40 participants and 2 computer classes with 12 students  continue in full swing. So its all very busy
And I've forgotten to include the Sri Lankan New Year in April which is a big family ocscasion and I was invited to eat much milkrice cake.

Those of you who are dog carers will know what I  feel when I say that today for the first time in many weeks I rejoiced in a cold wet nose AND solid poo !! Here he is with bright eyes again.
He was recovering from the Babesia when he was struck down by an infection from contaminated water then 2 weeks later another collapse.
Finding that the water supply to the house was contaminated was quite a shock. Since changing to bottled water my own health, which has been a bit wobbly, ,has improved considerably. Zigger is now doing well though a very slow recovery and is now on a strict diet. Not being able to walk well for several weeks but with a spaniels insatiable appetite for any food at any time he needs to loose weight.This week he again needed several injections and is clearly too weak to resist disease. The "Animal Doctor" here is excellent and looks after Zigger and Valy well.

Zigger does not allow Valy to come into the house,  though sometimes in the  early morning she sneaks in to remind me its breakfast time while Zigger snores on under the bed.

"I may be small but I'm top dog round here! "

Valy has breakfast. 

Im looking forward to some volunteers coming later in the year and hopefully some more friends on holiday/
Watch this space for the possibility that I might move the project to a smaller more economical building!!
Hope all is well with you  and you are in a pleasant climate with good friends and enjoying life .

Love from all at Sura Medura.