Moama Anglican Grammar School recently sent a group of students and staff to Sri Lanka to work alongside Habitat for Humanity. Students Kerrie Dick and Angus Mawson blogged about their experiences; their fourth blog entry is below.
After an interesting Sri Lankan breakfast, we were placed in new building groups.
Thankfully, Wilson joined our group and we made our way to our build site for the day. The heat seemed to rise a few degrees for this particular Thursday. A large pile of red bricks awaited us and we spent the rest of the morning moving them from Point A to Point B.
A little girl and boy enjoyed our company as they ran around laughing, hiding and waving to us.
Lunch time came and went and we arrived at our build site earlier so we were able to finish earlier in the afternoon.
Our group spilt, some moving bricks while others relocated a pile of sand.
We exceeded expectations and finished our work early.
We couldn’t rest while others worked so we walked along the hectic road towards another team’s build site.
The working day soon came to an end and we turned towards the cricket pitch for our daily match.
Word had got around and an abundance of locals flocked to the pitch, although cricket had lost popularity and the volleyball game gained most of the stray players.
Once we returned to the hotel we were given warnings of half an hour to get ready for a trip into Batticaloa.
We travelled on the bus absorbing the sites of Sri Lanka as they passed by in a blur.
We arrived and were granted 50 minutes to wander down the streets and purchase whatever took our fancy.
The streets were busy and crowed while the walkways were not designed for more than one person.
We finally met for our evening meal. The restaurant we dined at was quite the experience. We ordered our meal and waited in anticipation.
In a matter of minutes the room turned into complete chaos.
Meals were confused and mis-matched, while some had finished eating before others had been given their meal – others actually received dessert before their main meal.
It added quite the story to the night’s events. Our bus ride home contained dreary eyes and/or over-tired voices, as we made our way back to our hotel and swiftly to bed.
We were granted an extra half an hour’s sleep-in after the previous night’s event.
Our morning did not begin with work, but a morning of school – a local school, not far from our building site.
The principal welcomed us along with a wonderfully presented English story from one of the students.
We donated the books we brought with us and more than doubled their existing library.
In small groups with some of the students, we read stories to individuals or whole classes.
Arm wrestling was a popular activity as was tapping the table and making beats.
The group of school boys were more than happy to pose for a photo, crushing you in the process of getting closer to the camera. The students sang us the Sri Lankan national anthem and we returned the favour by singing, with pride, the Australian national anthem and our school song.
The principal then presented us with a trophy and one of their school ties. The students said goodbye and we returned to our hotel for lunch.
The morning off work left us a little less eager to return, although the afternoon of brick moving did come with an unexpected surprise.
After moving red bricks at a new house for an hour the Sri Lankan news crew arrived at our working site.
Wilson happily translated their questions as some us were interviewed.
They asked us for some footage of us working and then informed us we would be on the news the following night.
The afternoon was soon gone as we day dreamed of our appearance on the TV.
Our appearance at the cricket pitch had welcomed more new faces. Skipping, footy, volleyball and cricket were enjoyed, along with many photos.
We said goodbye and informed the children we would be returning home in four days, much to their disappointment.
We made our way to the beach for a refreshing swim, and returned to the hotel for our meal. The week’s work, had worn out many of us although we are extremely pleased with what we have been able to achieve. Although a relaxing weekend will be welcomed.
Tuesday morning was much like Monday. We woke up late, staggered to breakfast and prepared for the hard day’s work.
It has become a new fad to try a new type of food, with multiple people ordering exquisite and exotic dishes; chapatti, herbal porridge and banana fritters.
Building is hard work but worthwhile.
You only do a job for 15-20 minutes before you either break or finish the job/swap positions.
You get into a rhythm and everyone feels the same pain, not to say that there is much.
We enjoy the work and we recognise the impact we are making.
Returning to join the other groups, we congregated on an oval where an army of kids of all ages were circling a beaten pitch with a wooden “E” shaped window frame as wickets held up by a shovel at one end.
We all joined the cricket game, breaking the language barrier with gestures and a basic cross-understanding of both English and Tamil.
The game deteriorated and a volleyball game replaced it.
Following suit, little games of footy and soccer (kick-to-kick) which the smaller kids loved, outdoing most of us larger, older teens. John Isaac, our cricket hero, found the soccer ball rather amazing and bolted away kicking it madly.
Unfortunately his fun was halted as he accidentally tapped the bouncing ball on a log into the depths of the grungy, waste-filled well.
The sinking expression on his face said it all.
We swarmed around the well, plotting, debating and joking about ways in which to retrieve our ball. After dillydallying, discussing ideas and much frustration, a brave 14-year-old appeared with a fishing net and a wild smirk. Into the well he climbed, while smaller kids held the net wrapped around the side of the well.
With an awkward squish he slid to the bottom and raucous cheers exploded from the crowd as he threw up the ball, hitting one our kids in the face.
Which made us laugh uncontrollably.
At the end of the games we took multiple group photos, presenting our courageous monkey with our newly-rescued soccer ball, which he loved.
Many goodbyes and “High-5s” later we drove back to the hotel, pit stopping to buy supplies of wafers, biscuits, and lollies to last the rest of the week.
We finished our day with a slower dinner celebrating a birthday, and a quick card game of cheat, ready for tomorrow.
Today was one of the best days so far. We were split into new groups, which worked out well.
The work was shaded and the humidity was held at bay by a cool breeze – and time flew like an arrow in a vacuum.It was astounding how efficient we were, with good spirits all round and puns and jokes rebounded continuously.
Unfortunately happiness is tiring, so after five and a half hours of concrete supplying and brick stacking we headed to the cricket field once more for the next instalment of the AUS vs. SRL. Volleyball was Australia’s downfall but we equalised in the kick-to-kick off and with a great skipping performance.
A quick dash to the beach for a refreshing swim and swift match of markers-up allowed the GoPro to catch some amazing shots.Sandy feet trudged back to the bus and we retired to our rooms, with a cheeky card game in between.