The First Day of Janet's Sri Lankan Adventure
I had the usual 'new job nerves' the night before I went into Street Child's Colombo office. Made worse by general lack of sleep after a 3.30am arrival in nearby Negombo the day before and the early stages of a cold. I also tried to find the office about 1km from my guesthouse and proved unsuccessful. Am I really up for this, I wondered?
But all my doubts dissolved the next morning when I found the office and had the warmest welcome from Michael the Operations Manager, who immediately put me at ease with useful tips about what time of day to drink coconut juice and where to get good coffee. A while later Gilles arrived, a Belgian journalist who it turns out had arrived two weeks ahead of me. We both did a double take...didn’t I see you last night?? at Yaal?? Dining alone and the only foreigners in this Jaffna restaurant, we had both clocked each other but I’d been too preoccupied trying to communicate with the waiter to say hi.
Almost straight away we got cracking and Michael set me to work sifting through potential donors, eventually I found two promising looking ones and by the end of the day Ramya, the Country Director had approved my first two priorities by email. This was amazing I felt like I was up and running!
At the end of the day Gilles and I went in search of super strength Sri Lankan mosquito repellent and then set off on the adventure of finding dinner. We jumped on a crowded bus, got off a while later, picked a place that looked popular with the locals and I got to experience my first ever egg hopper- seriously a delight everyone should try! We then walked home on the beach and the night ended with ice cream with so many people it seemed like the whole bus was there.
The next day I took the overnight bus to our new Street Child base in Batticaloa and before long I’m feeling at home as if I’ve been here forever. A few days later we went on our first field trip to visit a school and pre-school in the village of Murrukanthivu, about an hour from Batticaloa in the educational zone of Kalkudah. This visit was incredible and I felt like I was genuinely seeing the real Sri Lanka and also how hard it was for children to have access to schools. The journey there was a crazy, hilarious adventure, involving travelling by bus, tuk tuk, canoe and finally foot to get there, but so worth it in the end! We met with teachers, parents and school students and pre-school children. It felt like a great privilege and taught us far more about Sri Lanka and the educational needs of the Batticaloa District than I could ever have imagined.
It also felt like we were doing what we'd come here to do.