Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Success as activities expand--Sadness at the deaths of two good friends.

This is Charlotte, aged 65 years, who died on October 2nd  near her home in Wewalgoda Rd.

Since I last did a news blog many events seem to have crowded into life at Sura Medura.
The death of Charlotte has been very disturbing and has affected the whole village.
She was the first person to help us when Eilidh and I moved in to Sura Medura in December 2010. Seeing me struggling with the sweeping and cleaning she turned up with a broom and a set to to help us clean. She recruited most of the young people for the first classes in January and was a daily visitor , bringing me an English language newspaper every day. Her mother lives in a small house at the gates of Sura Medura and her family live along the lane. Her niece Emasha, who speaks excellent English, helps with the young womens group  and the camera class .

Early morning on Oct 3rd we found Charlotte's body in the stream by the railway line, It was very badly mutlilated and she had been murdered.
The whole community is in shock. I was able to help the family  a little with funeral arrnagements and to make sure that her 5 dogs were cared for, though one remains at her grave and goes out to collect food and I see another regularly visiting the garden where the grave is next to her home.
Charlotte had many court cases about land claims and 2 weeks before she died the court ruled in her favour and those in dispute were due to appeal in the week after she died. Rumours abound about the motive for her killing and the CID from Colombo are still investigating.
I was very shocked at the manner of her death and am sad to loose such a friend.
Charlotte lived what she called a " natural " life. Alone in her garden- she cooked outdoors and spent most of her time in the garden. She would bring me food sometimes and tell me not to put it in the fridge which she considered unhealthy.

Jenny arrives
A blessing has been the arrival of Jenny Smith  a volunteer from UK who has been travelling in New Zealand and Cambodia. She  arrived October 2nd so her first week was dominated by the tragedy. She has been a tremendous help and will stay for another 6 weeks generally helping and taking the camera class. The camera class is going very well and the local helper Emesha will start a new session after Xmas taking Jenny's place as teacher. So I'm looking for a bit more cash to fund that weekly session. I'm always looking for a bit more cash so if you've any spare pennies put them to good use please. A little goes a long way here. 
We have had a few big storms - during one Zigger was frightened by a huge clap of thunder which co-oincided with someone arriving at the door and he was off down the road. Jenny and I and several  neighbours found him hiding in someone else's house after 45 minutes of frantic and very wet searching in torrential rain. 
Sri Lakans, like the British, constantly talk about the weather- but in terms of gradations of  heat and cool and small and big rain!
I have taken the plunge and emptied my bank account to pay for Airconditioning to be installed in my room and it is a blessing for me and Zigger. I don't get the irritating Prickly heat all the time and am free from constant sweating. ( though as I write we have a power cut and the prickles are starting up all over me!! )

 We now have 3 kandy dance classes on Sunday afternoons, ages  ranging from 3 to 21 years old. This picture is of the older ones practising for our 1 year celebration to be held in January. Someone has kindly offerred to send us some money towards hiring proper Kandy dance costumes for the occassion and the young people are very excited by the idea.
 Here we have some elders interested in seeing what we are doing at Sura Medura. I'm very pleased that most of the villagers seem to approve of what we do here . We were recently visited by some of the family who used to live here before it became derelict over 20 years ago and they were most impressed by the renovations and the work we are doing.
 Here is Jenny, the UK volunteer who is running the camera class with  cameras donated by Danielle and Adem from Brighton. It is proving very popular and Emasha the local helper will run a  new class in January using Jenny's plans. 
Classes  are full to overflowing and I have had to divide the 2 Kandian dance classes into Beginners , Junior and Senior . The 7 working computers we have are occupied in two classes on Sunday afternoon for 7 week courses. The next courses, beginning mid  November, are already fully booked and the January list is filling quickly. The older ladies learning computer are really impressive.
 At the moment I have sufficient funds set  aside to cover classes until mid March-- now that a surprise donation of £200 has come in from a pub quiz in Scotland. 
The music  teacher has 9 students now and I have bought another keyboard so that we have 3. Maybe some percussion instruments soon and they will aim to perform in January at our Anniversary celebration - Stick the tail on the Elephant will be one of the games as well as eating sticky buns hanging from ropes! 

             Ladies tea and conversation has 10 regulars and I'm getting to grips with what often seems like the stupidity of the English language!! They have been enjoying extracts from a Harry Potter DVD which they comment on in English.
I have to say that I am very happy to see the people filling the centre and enjoying the classes so much.It's 9 months since we opened and  12 since I arrived in Sri Lanka. Bless you all for your huge contributions in whatever ways to what has been a tremendous success so far.

This is Mangelica painting the fence on the outside  area where many classes are held.  She cleans and helps out for 14 hours a week and is an essential member of the team
 Mangelica and her son and daughter painted the fence we had put round the dancing / theatre outside space to keep the dogs out and the little children in. A Brighton glass making workshop paid for this fence which saves us lots of energy - washing the floor every time we used it was not good and however admirable dogs trying to learn kandy dance may be it is not quite what we're here for!

 Rasika is the tuk tuk driver who has befriended me and the centre and here he is putting a ceiling into part of my bedroom to keep in the cool air of the air conditioning.

 Bandulla is the local carpenter ,whose wife Manil has done the computer class and attends Ladies Tea morning and whose son is in the music and camera classes , This picture shows him as he supervises the work of his assistant who is deaf and dumb and an excellent craftsman as they fix the glass in windows to go in my bedroom for the airconditioning.
 Zigger flaked out on his special water cool bed to try to get cooler. He now loves the airconditioning and has stopped having attacks of heat exhaustion . A dogs tongue turning blue is a frightening sight. He did manage to get a bowel infection and is now on the mend after a total of 5 injections and numerous medications from the local animal doctor.
 A very chaotic and wonderful shop of fabrics and ribbons and beads where the owners are overwhelmed by too much stock and make up the prices as they go along. Excellent for some of the art classes.

 We will be using some of their stock as we start a special class for 5 weeks making Seasonal decorations for Xmas and New Year. The all inclusive policy towards religion in Sri Lanka means that everyone celebrates all the festivals - and has all the holidays too !
 This is part of the large garden of Sura Medura - many coconut trees which are harvested regularly by the landlord and provide great playgrounds for the monkeys and long tailed squirrels and some amazing birds.
As you may have seen from the special blog I posted recently I have been much saddened by the death of my friend Pat Rutter in UK.
It's a strange feeling of the distance between us and yet she was very much a supporter of the project and was sending messages until  a few days before she died.
She asked for donations to be made to EGE instead of funeral flowers.
Part of the garden will be dedictated to Pat. and a local man is making a small wooden carving with her name, to be placed in it. She loved growing things and was always trying to encourage me to be more green fingered in my back yard.

 Here is one of my favourite places to eat banana pacake after the afternoon class ends and the sun is setting. 
And below thinking of all that posting for Christmas going on in UK here is the post box in Galle post office - a relic of colonial times. Indeed George 5th red post boxes are all over the country and still in use but this one is rather special. 
And I just have to remind you that if you are buying online please do so through the web site - its really easy and if you nominate eddigoeseast as your charity we will automatically get a percentage of your spending. - once youve signed up for this it REALLY is very easy.

Much love from everyone at Sura Medura including Valy and Zigger
Eddi xx

Monday, 7 November 2011

Pat - a special message

This is s a special blog that I am writing to fulfill the generous wish of my friend Pat Rutter who suggested that people send a donation to the work of eddigoeseast instead of flowers for her funeral .

Pat has followed my journey from the moment I first thought of coming out to Sri Lanka through the emptying of my  house in Brighton to the journey out here and the year that has passed since then.

I met with her in April when I was in UK for 2 weeks and I was so pleased when she told me she planned to come out to Sri Lanka  for a holiday  and give a helping hand at the Centre.
That was only a few weeks before she found out that she had cancer.

So it's with a heavy heart that I write this because she was a  lovely, sensible, beautiful, funny and very supportive friend to me over countless cups of tea and I miss her. Her heart was always in the right place.  Now she has asked her friends to give donations in her memory to support this project in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka and I have a small private garden here which will be dedicated to her.

The way to give donations

Cheques made out to D.E.PIPER (ege)
with your address and PAT written on the back
And a note of any message you would like passed on to the family
Post to 

Piper/ EGE
c/o HAzel Ainsley
61 Priory St

OR you may prefer to donate by bank transfer
to account number 12277012
account name D.E. Piper
sort code 08 91 03

Please add the reference PAT with your name
and email me at to let me know that you have made a transfer-- othewise I will not be able to tell the family who you are or send any acknowledgement.
or post a message to Hazel Ainsley at the address above

Your donation will be used entirely for direct work with young people here in Sri Lanka.
I meet all my own and administrative expenses as part of my retirement project which will continue until at least May 2013.

Visitors are welcome in our very pleasant and affordable accommodation which help fund the project.

If you would like to receive notifications of news blogs about the project please let me know or add your name to the mailing list.

kind regards
Eddi Piper

Dorothy Eddi Piper
Sura Medura Arts Centre
Wewalgoda Road
Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka mobile number
+94 774328118
Sri Lanka land line +94(0) 912276021
Skype eddipiper42


Early morning and we’re on the beach,-- a small dog and me
The sun rises bright on golden sands and palm trees
White capped waves the ocean roars

On a very long lead --Zigger –cute dog - prances through the surf, catching driftwood
I brush the sand from my face and sit on a log watching him bury the wood and dig it up and bury it again , and dig it up

And a little way off-- under a group of coconut palms
You sit –-- smiling --– wishing us well

Evening comes and the dog sleeps soundly at my feet as
I sit in your garden under thousands of stars and a white shining moon
And in the clear night sky I see a new star
and I whisper
“Hello my dear loving friend - Fare well on your journey- fare well and fly free”

Monday, 19 September 2011

August flies by and the new term begins

Hello from Sura Medura Arts Centre.
I began this blog in August and have only just finished it 3 weeks later so have added a paragraph to update it. There allways seem to be other things needing my attention !!
 I went on a 5 day tour with Brigitte, a friend from UK who was here for 3 weeks.
 One of the 80 elephants in the Kandy Perehera .Paraded through the streets surrounded by fire dancers and stick walkers and drummers and all manner of street performers. An amazing 3 hour spectacle superbly managed and organised despite scant attention to health and safety of the European variety! We had good view and enjoyed every minute of it.

Below the first woman wood carver in Sri Lanka - and very proud of this and of her 65 years of age. She was part of a demonstration of local crafts which included organic vegetable growing and metal working.

 More pictures of the torch lit procession as another elephant carries a man acting as one of the Kings of Kandy and telling the history of the ancient Kingdom.
 A young elephant waiting for his turn to get dressed up and join the parade in which the elephants danced to the drum beat.
Stilt walking fire spinners - the fire is attached to a cord which they swing with their necks!

So Ive had a lovely holiday in the central area of Sri Lanka visiting Kandy , Sigiriya and Dambulla and an elephant orphanage. Since returning Ive taken my visitor to several local attractions including a man who makes and sells cinnamon which is renowned as the best in the world and which the British shipped through India --keeping the original source a secret in case anyone got in on the trade from Sri Lanka.
The local tea factory man showed us how to make tea properly and introduced us to a wide variety of different teas.Silver tips - wonderful but costly !
Now Brigitte is due to return to Brighton  and I shall miss her as will Zigger. We left him while we were away for 5 days and returned to find him suffering from heat stroke - quite terrifying to see, but he recovered quickly. Now that my ankle is healed Ive been able to walk him again and go to the beach.
Classes are going ahead, though with reduced numbers as it is the school holidays and many families are visiting relatives and going on trips together. I am revising the timetable now as 2 volunteers begin in September and the art class at 18 is just too big for me to do well on my own. I'm planning a young women's  group and a junior art/ play group and the volunteers are running a 6 week camera class.
The second computer course is ending soon and people are now registering for the 3rd course. We are sticking to a basic skills course at the moment and attracting a range of ages and abilities. Perhaps the most satsifying is seeing the older women being so pleased to learn how to email their grown up children who work abroad- usually in Vietnam or South Korea, sending money back to Sri Lanka for the family.

Brigitte who is French took a conversation class for tuk tuk drivers to help them with the French tourists.
There are quite a few tourists on the street due to the European school holidays but we expect the area to go quiet again in September and the real season starts in December.
A generous donation from an individual means that all classes are now assured until mid January which is great news. Classes cost £200 a month and I have put aside money from the eddigoeseast appeal to cover us until January.
If you ever order goods online then do have a look at the web site and sign up, Whenever you order through that site a small donation is made to the charity of your choice as long as it is registered on that site - which of course eddigoeseast is !
they will send a monthly email telling you of the best deals from the participating companies.

Some of the 20 strong Junior Kandy dance class in the outside theatre we created.
September update.
Well ,the new term is in full swing and Brigitte has gone back to UK. It was great to have her here.
Unfortunately the 2 volunteers from Uk needed to return after a week so the camera class and play class have been postponed till a new volunteer arrives in October.  A new group of 20- 30 year old unemployed young women have begun my conversation class and are great fun. I am gradually introducing topics such as parenting as role plays, though of course it is slow going with limited English but I have a very good local helper.  The older women's group had 9 people on Monday morning and we were mostly taken up with tenses for going and coming which caused much amusement. . Art class made loads of fabric fishes to put on a collage to brighten up the computer room walls and played some ball games. 
Hope you are adjusting to the Autumn in Europe - wish I could send you some of our sunshine and heat though thankfully we have a had a few days with heavy rain which was sorely needed.  
Love and again many thanks for your support.
from Eddi and Zigger and Valy and all at Sura Medura.
Mutu and Tarindi with Eddi

Working out a floor puzzle
Sumud with Music teacher Prashad

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

April to June . UK sunshine, Vesak festival, Eilidh leaves and Valy moves in!

Dear Friends,
I have sent some emails to those on the list but I am sorry to have taken so long to update the blog. Since March I have spent 3 weeks in UK, leaving Zigger here, and then returned to sort out the 2 year retirement visa and restart the classes. I went to  Kandy in the cooler hill country for 2 days ensure a seat for the August "Perehera" a big street parade that goes on for a week and culminates with 150 elephants, dancers and performers going through the streets. Good for tourism but was sad to learn that this year all the best seats were block booked for overseas corporate entertainment.
VALY comes to stay
I decided to take care of the outside dog as we couldn't get her to leave the garden and she was sick - so VALY joins the team and has had 2 operations and is now fine. Zigger is cautiously welcoming and Valy stays outside the house. Since securing  the 2 year visa after much complex dealings with banks I have felt more like this place is now home.
UK was hectic - I was there for the Easter and the wedding bank holiday weekends which were limiting for travel and admin and was sad that I could not see all my friends- 2 years seems a long time but now I have a good WIFI connection I can keep in touch .

In May the celebrations of the 2600 anniversary of the Lord Buddhas birth --VESAK -  involved a magical scene each night of small oil lamps set out in the lane and paper lanterns on every building.
I hope the pictures tell the story but most satisfying has been that we now have all the classes working! I have put aside enough money from your donations to keep going full steam ahead until the end of September by which time I hope more money will come rolling in. With the regualar monthly donations from individuals totalling £60  month I can keep the basic classes going and Hullabaloo community Quire in Brighton have raised enough to pay for the Kandian Dance and Computer class teachers. Without rent , electricity and water the cost of keeping the classes going is £200 per month- for teachers, helpers, refreshments and some transport.
DO YOU SHOP online?
Eddigoeseast is now registered on the site . If you register and use any of their retailers ege or any other charity you might want to support gets cash from the retailer .
Really the smallest amount goes a long way here . At the moment I'm looking for £50 to make a simple bamboo fence to go round the outside theatre space as I'd like the children in the Kandian dance and play classes to have a bit more privacy from the street and it would mean we don't have to wash the concrete before each class because the dogs would be kept out. It;s a bit of a luxury but would be well worth  it.

So here are the pics which I hope tell the story of the last 3 months.
Add caption
In UK -- Met Many many good friends- this is Rosanna outside the Tate Britain when temperature was 25C !!
 Rottingdean to Seaview cafe as well as Preston park cafe, Bond
St Nero cafe, James St Coffee bar Gardner St, Sydney St and Pavilion Gardens-- lots of cake !!!!
 And Stanmer Park of course - cherry blossom and more cake !

Back to Sura Medura where Mangelica the amazing house keeper had got her hands on the art class glitter to welcome me back and Sisera the guard had set up table and tea in the garden and Zigger met me at the airport and stopped sulking after about 10 minutes.

Eilidh leaves.
Eilidh Graham helped by local artist Sumudu bakes her farewell cake before she returned to Scotland after 6 months here. She has been coming to Sri Lanka every year since the Tsunami and particularly helps the Girls at Sukitha orphange. Without her experience Sura Medura and me would be have been at a loss.  I hope she comes back soon!
However, 2 young people from Brighton are turning their redundancy to good effect by raising money to come out here for 6 weeks in September to help and run play and camera workshops

                                                    It's Sunday Afternoon at Sura Medura 
The Junior Kandian dance class struggles a bit with left and right hands . Maybe one day they will be dancing like these performers welcoming a government guest to Queens hotel in Kandy.
The older Kandian dance class play volleyball over the garden fence until the senior class begins. Meanwhile the 2 Computer classes are going on indoors and Mangelica and I are babysttting for the mothers in the class and keeping an eye on the older kids playing ,and making rather lot of orange juice and tea and keeping Zigger away from the ginger biscuits.
Art and Music Class
Jayanga and Heshan in Art class making a fabric strip of local shops to go on a long banner we are making to depict the Hikkaduwa Vesak Perehera- festive procession.

And newcomers to the music keyboard class catch up with the theory work before learning the scales on the keyboards.

In the garden
The monitor lizard outside the front door and VALY the " outside dog " appeals for rice and curry .

The VESAK festival.   Rassica and wife Mutu with 3 month old Tarindi treated me to an outing to see the range of Pandels - huge outdoor light displays depicting the life of Buddha where there is a festive atmosphere with fairground stalls and  free food . the displays go on for several days

Hikkaduwa had a Perehera ( procession of dancers , performers and elephants)  to celebrate Vesak. Adults and children from different organisations paraded in the midst of  cars, buses and tuk tuks along the Galle Rd 

One of the dancers catches sight of Zigger and soon he is surrounded by dancers.
Then the elephant swings his trunk to Zigger who retreats behind the woodcarvers front door.

 Vesak Lanterns.All the tiny pottery oil
lamps in the forests were really magical.

So that's the news from Sura Medura. I am so pleased to report that all the classes we set out to create and the environments and equipment for them are just about in place. Of course I want to do more -so much more could be done and Im specially pleased that we are reaching the people who cant afford private classes and especially because they are clearly so happy to be here and their confidence grows by the week.  I'm  working one hour a week with a severely handicapped 5 year old with cerebral palsy and hoping to add some fun and stimulation to her restricted life.  Discussions continue with the Psychology department at the teaching hospital and I will be looking for more funding to host parent seminars in the Autumn. The climate means that pens run dry and paper gets damp and mould grows on anything it can get a grip on and the heat is tiring and a storm stops everything .Cleaning is non stop  to keep the insects inside the jungle and out of the house!  So working with the climate and the environment is crucial. I am on a rapid learning curve!  My 69th birthday last week was a bit of a time to take stock and hopefully learning to rest and not work too hard is a good objective for the next few months. 
Below are some pictures of the accommodation on the first floor that we hope to let to fund the work here . Many many thanks for all your support - Keep it coming ~!
Love from Eddi and Zigger
Sura Medura Accommodation
is in a renovated 150 year old Colonial style building in spacious grounds. 

( above) the beautiful main double room .
The single room has canopied nets. There is also a 2 or 3 bedded family room opening into the fully equipped kitchen/dining area.
Fans and mosquito nets througout, free Wifi, housekeeping every second day full use of porch on ground floor, security guard,
PLUS ---monkeys in the coconut palms and mango trees outside the window, monitor lizard, many birds singing, coconut palms, terrapin in the well, tortoise in the backyard and Valy and of course Zigger! Who could want more-- and all the income goes to support the work of Sura Medura.
Very reasonable tarrif includes welcome groceries and the house is no more than 5 minutes from the ocean on the quiet side of the Galle Rd in the " Jungle" Special relationship with Sunbeach ocean front hotel for meals and excursions. The Accommodation is let by the room or as a self contained apartment. 
Come and enjoy a superb holiday in Sri Lanka - the pearl of the Indian Ocean.