Monthly Archives: November 2012

Christine Horne Blog – Uddakandara

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I have just returned from a wonderful and very enlightening trip to Sri Lanka and visited about 16 schools to see the work that SRI is doing in helping to refurbish classrooms and equip them with much needed books and furniture etc.

Handing out prizes

Handing out prizes

Among them were some new schools that are in desperate need of help, they literally have nothing.

One school proudly showed us their only computer but it did not work because there was no electricity cable to it and they did not have the money to get it connected. I had no idea that classrooms are not sealed with windows and doors and that animals and insects can get in and chew up the books and furniture, the teachers are so dedicated in the face of such adversity.

I admired the lady teachers in their pretty saris in such delicate materials, how do they manage to dress so beautifully and still get to school for a 7 o’clock start, they don’t fall out of bed and put on the nearest t-shirt.

On Sunday I helped to give out the prizes which SRI had paid for at the Uddakandara Temple for children who had entered different categories at their Sunday Schools; essay writing, music, dance etc. and was really moved by the way they all knelt at my feet and would not get up until I had touched their head. We were all given beetle leaves to hold, which I was not quite sure what to do with, and garlands of white flowers around our necks which had been intricately woven together, they must have taken such a long time to do, I felt guilty taking mine off and casting it aside at the end of the ceremony.

Christine Horne Blog – Kiula

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DSC_1291Friday was spent visiting more schools to assess what SRI can do to help.

One particular school, Kiula School, is celebrating its 100th anniversary so had a lot of flags up. HSBC are sponsoring a library for them.

I also visited Debarawewa President’s Primary College to the deaf and special needs classrooms.

We found the children busily drawing but we noticed that some of the children were not wearing their hearing aids, on enquiring why we were told that they had grown out of the ear moulds. So that is another project that SRI will undertake to replace them.

Christine Horne Blog – Nadigamwila

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Me with the Zonal Director for Science

Me with the Zonal Director for Science

Thursday was one of my best days, the day when I got to wear my very own sari. I was to be the “Important Guest” at the opening ceremony for Nadigamwila School Science Laboratory which SRI has built and equipped and I had the honour of unveiling the plaque.

I felt elegant in my sari, I had no idea how to put it on and was helped to get dressed. I was frightened to move in case it all unravelled as there are no zips or buttons anywhere.

We were met at the entrance to the school by the school band that were all dressed in beautiful red and gold outfits and walked in procession into the school where we lit a ‘poya’ lamp.

This ‘poya’ lamp was all hand made out of coconut leaves and bark and must have stood about 5ft high, very impressive.

I was quite worried that it would all catch fire after everyone had taken their turn to light it but it didn’t of course.

Christine Horne Blog – A day in the life

Posted on by mark

Buying a handbag from KV Temple Sewing Group

Buying a handbag from KV Temple Sewing Group

Monday, was spent following one of the priests as he went about his duties. My daughter, Jackie, wanted to write a piece called “A day in the life of a Sri Lankan Priest” and one of the priests who she calls the ‘smiley priest’ agreed to her request.

She manfully got up at the very early hour of 5 o’clock in the morning to meet him at his temple for the start of his day – he was already up and sweeping the temple steps when she arrived.

I, on the other hand caught up with them at about 11 o’clock when he was attending an ‘alms giving’.

The ceremony was for someone who had died three months earlier – everyone gathers to remember the deceased and the priest comes to give a blessing and the family lay on a feast.

They were all so kind to me as I was standing outside someone came out and offered me a chair in the shade and some coconut juice. While the ceremony was going on I visited the Ladies Sewing Group, which is funded by SRI, and bought a lovely bag that one of then had made.

Feeling blessed

Feeling blessed

Later the priest attended a concert at Kande Viharaya Temple School where he again blessed everyone with his chanting.

I particularly enjoyed all the dancing that the children performed for us all.

They were all dressed in such beautiful costumes which I presume their mothers had made for them.

We then followed him back to the Temple for “puja”, a time in the early evening when devotees come to the temple to bring offerings to Buddha and be blessed by the priest.

He blessed me and tied some cotton threads around my wrist which I must wear till it falls off so that I have good luck.

DSC_0476The night before I also took part in a ceremony at the famous temples in Kataragama where you light some oil on top of a coconut and throw it in the flames down hard onto a stone to smash it for good luck.

I quickly threw it before it set fire to me but of course missed and it did not smash. Not wanting to miss out on the good luck a little boy climbed into the enclosure and retrieved it for me to have another go, so I made sure I succeeded this time.

Christine Horne Blog – Yala

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Tuesday afternoon was spent driving a jeep around Yala National Park in a jeep with four sponsorship students.

I found it amazing to be so close to elephants as I had only seem them in zoos before.

With Jaya and Teddy on the beach

With Jaya and Teddy on the beach

To start with I was a bit nervous when they came so close and was told to sit still and be very quiet and they will do you no harm.

Loku Jaya and Mr Teddy who both work with SRI came with us and they are both wildlife experts and were able to point out all the different birds and animals to us.

We also drove up the sand dunes and down to the see the Indian Ocean, by which time it was getting dark.

Because the park closes at 6 o’clock we had a mad dash to get out in time.

The jeep bouncing around and kicking up the earth as we sped along we soon became covered in dust but it was very exhilarating and I throughly enjoyed visiting such a fantastic place.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and all the people that I met were so friendly and made me feel very welcome, I would love to visit again so I shall have to save up my pennies.