Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 18: The war is over!

May 18th

Wow. What a day to be in Sri Lanka! If you are reading this, you are probably also keeping up with the news in the country (likely more than us, as we have very limited access to western media!) and have heard that the Sinhalese government has killed the LTTE (Tamil Tiger) leader just recently (to be confirmed and widely broadcast to the country by displaying his body on television here in Sri Lanka). The country, at least in the southern provinces where we are, is ecstatic- there are parades in the streets with music, singing and dancing and fireworks have been going off regularly from yesterday, all through the night and into today!

On a more micro level, the groups had another pretty solid work day. The TTF group is still working on tying re-bar for some of the concrete work to be done on pillars in the building. Plastering at the house is going great and the temple wall is completely up, with all intermediate columns poured and just one half of a longitudinal beam left to pour plus some plastering and painting which we will do as a group! I still cannot get over the head monk’s unconditional selflessness and generosity. Every day, he offers those working at the temple chocolate, fresh papaya, mangos, bananas, pineapples, jack fruit, cake, biscuits and tea, and today, he showed us around his home and presented us with a couple of small gifts for the group! He also has an unbelievable sense of humour- today he was in stitches when another friend on the worksite called Jocelyn - “Johnson”; it was a sight/feeling that I’m sure no one will forget and his happiness is absolutely contagious!

After work, the whole group went to KetakalaWatta, the community of houses and a school previously built by Developing World Connections and TripCanada, to see an English class and meet/play with some of the students. The group really enjoyed playing hang man and some other little word games with the kids.

To finish off the day, some of the group went to the bank to take out some money at an ATM. Thankfully, even our basic debit (convenience) cards from Canadian banks worked no problem! That group was lucky enough to then see the chaotic (safe! Don’t worry!) celebrations in the street and also buy some national and Buddhist flags for souvenirs. Parents, friends and family- you are in for some pretty amazing photos when everyone returns! On that note, the speed at which this trip is flying by is incredible. We have already been in Sri Lanka for 2 full weeks and people (very much including me!) are getting sad about leaving already! I am really trying to make sure that everyone soaks up every moment of the trip as much as possible to get everything they can out of it! It is so nice to have such a cohesive group- a surprise considering we are 15 (mostly) unrelated adults traveling together in a huge group!

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