Friday, April 27, 2012

April 25: Closing ceremony and a tearful goodbye

It's with a heavy heart, an achy back (from all the hard work) and a sore head (from the arrack - local coconut whiskey), that I write my last blog post. The time has flown by here, as it always seems to, and yesterday was an emotional last day.

Not to miss out on an opportunity to work, we all attacked two giant piles of rubble outside the school, loading up trucks with shovel-fulls of bricks, dirt and the old floors of the school. We even had to battle a few scorpions with our shovels, which brought a little adventure to such a tiring task. It took all 13 volunteers and all the workers the whole morning to clear it, but when the piles were gone the school had an instantly cleaner and presentable facade.

The rains came in time for tea and a ceremony of thanks at the school before we head over to the temple where the head monk had another ceremony prepared for us. Over the past few years he has really opened up to us. This trip especially we saw him smile and laugh more than ever, and you can see how much the local workers love and respect him. In the main room of the new residences we helped build the monk had laid out an altar, a gallery of photos he had taken of us (he's quite the photo enthusiast!) and a table of official thanks to us, Wayne of DWC and Janet of TRIP Canada. We were so shocked and very touched. He then blessed us and tied strings around our wrists like the one we received at Podi's house. So now we have one string that is dyed red from the dust and earth we have been working with on site, and a clean white one from after we put the shovels down. We had more tea, then ate lunch with the workers and retired to the hotel to shower and change for the closing ceremony with the workers.

As is always the custom our closing ceremonies at the village started off quiet and reserved, but as soon as the volunteers and local workers got into the arrack and beer, drums were produced, mats were laid out and before long we were trading songs in English and Singhala and dancing. Many hugs and photos followed and before things got too rowdy we were whisked off to the hotel where we were treated to a spectacular dance show and a delicious dinner buffet. It was the perfect close to another great trip.

This morning we said our tearful goodbyes as some volunteers headed back to Colombo to fly home and others stayed around to travel around this fascinating island. And to nurse our headaches. It was like the last day of camp and only now do we all realize how tired we are from all the sweat and toil. It's been another fun trip to Tangalle and we can't wait to see how things work out at the school and the monastery in the future. If we're lucky we will all get the chance to come back in the future to do more work and see this beautiful community grow. I hope you've enjoyed my blogging and until next time: Ayubowan!

Kristian 'Loku' Bruun
DWC Participant
Sri Lanka, April 2012

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