Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 2011: Our team's first couple of days!

Well today is the end of day three and already our bodies are sore (good sore, of course). The school we are fixing up is a hundred and twenty years old and in desperate need of some TLC. It currently has 30 students who learn in some pretty poor conditions and they hope to have up to 200 students when we are done rebuilding it. A lot of the students have to pay to get into Tangalle to go to schools which are over crowded, so getting this school up and running will be a great help. Everyone is getting in on the action: the Principal, the teachers, some of their children, the local workers whose houmes we've rebuilt in the past and even the Buddhist monks from the monastery next door!

For me it has been incredible coming back to Sri Lanka. So much has changed since December, 2007. For one we have wireless high speed Internet! Last time we used a really slow, old desktop computer to send our emails and it felt like regular mail would have been faster. We are also staying at a brand new hotel, Moonstone Villas, opened by a fellow volunteer who came to Sri Lanka and fell in love with it. She has partnered with the team of locals we work with and the place is beautiful. Sure there are a few kinks to work out, but we're the perfect group to test things out on.

Here's a quick recap of the first three work days:
Day One we got to the school and immediately started clearing rubble from the buildings and the yard. The workers were also ready for us to get plastering the walls, it took some time, but the old plaster skills came back to us. Getting that plaster to stick to the walls takes a bit of finesse.

Day Two started with a tour of a Muslim school in Tangalle that also needs fixing up. Janet and Bruce are always looking for the next project to do and everyone seems pretty keen to keep helping with the schools in the area. We also checked out an English class at the village before getting back to the work sight. More rubble removal, more plastering and then we started breaking up some poorly constructed cement floors. The day ended with one of the most intense downpours I have ever seen. We are getting close to the rainy season, so I think that won't be the last time we see rain. It rained so hard I showered outside!

Day Three we got right to business. First up was the punishing task of mixing cement by hand and pouring the new floors. By far the hottest and most humid day, we sweat our way through multiple batches of cement, pouring floors and breaking up other poor ones. It's always a little frustrating undoing work that looks good on the surface, but it has to be done. An improper floor won't stand the test of time. Mike Holmes would have a field day here! Tough day, but we were happy to clean up and check out a dance class back at the village before having dinner at Lagoon Paradise.

DWC Participant
Kristian Bruun
Sri Lanka, April 2011

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