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”