Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Plantation worker's children

My gift drawing from a Sri Lankan admirer

One of the optional excursions on our trip was visiting children and  some Sri Lankan schools.  Since I was a teacher for 15 years, I have a particular affinity with kids and brought along some art supplies for older children.   
But seeing our interest,  Dee agreed to also visit a nursery school  and we all pitched in for some supplies for little ones.   In the shop, we finally figured out that pastels were in fact what we call crayons and so armed with various toys, posters, paper and crayons we asked our guide to lead us to the school.   He insisted that it was closed on Saturday.  Luckily Dee knew that she had already been there on a Saturday, so persisted. 

On the way I met some personable and charming teenagers before we reached the nursery school.  This trio of young ladies in their traditional Sri Lankan uniforms were happy to practice their English.  We were debating whether their uniforms were indeed white or were they lavender before I looked around and found that my group had disappeared.   I snapped a quick photo and hurried on.  

And already speaking English...,  Sri Lankan school girls,  photo by Mary M Payne

Visiting the "lines" of tea plantation workers on the way to nursery school photo by Mary M Payne

I caught up with the group at the dormitories for the workers of the plantation.   These are known as the "lines".  This is a photo taken across from the apartments where workers were taking advantage of a nice day to dry the laundry.

Four  adorable boys,  Sri Lanka photo by Mary M Payne

On the way to the nursery,  I was followed by four curious older boys wanting to get involved.   They were so engaging that I couldn't get enough of their energy and antics.    They followed me with a little game of tag all the way into the nursery school.   

Nursery school age Plantation worker's children get their first crayons  photo by Mary M Payne

When we had met the teachers and had opened our crayons onto the table, I had the feeling that some of the little ones had never held crayons.    They actually looked a little fearful of all these big people arriving together.  So I set about showing them what was possible and they were immediately engaged.

Children of Sri Lanka,  photo by Mary M Payne

Boys drawing , Sri Lanka,  photo by mary m payne

 In the meantime, the older boys knew just what they wanted to draw and asked if they might have some colors.  

In a few minutes this little girl had started drawing
 a person on one side of her paper and a sun and flower on the other side.   She had the artist's touch already. 

This little chap was happy to go abstract.

And this shy sweetheart colored in the flowers I drew for her.  

 I could have happily stayed there with these kids all day.  In the meantime the rest of the group was admiring the babies in another room that were suspended from the ceiling, sleeping in hammocks.  

Babies sleeping in hammocks, photo by Pauline Bradbury.

Proud Grand mother of nursery toddler, Sri Lanka,  photo by Mary m payne

I was very impressed with the little school of the estate workers, of the teachers and the children.   They have done a lot there with so little. 

 After our session together, the older boys gave me their pictures:   two of" tuc-tucs "( the prevalent three wheelers everywhere in Sri Lanka), another drew a strange heron-like bird .  The last one drew a bird on a branch.  Before we boarded the bus, they told me their names and wanted to know my name.  It may have sounded just as odd to them as their long Sri Lankan names did to me but we had made a connection. 

Boy's drawing of a "tuc tuc" vehicle.  

 It was a moment of total bliss for me just to interact with these children.   Once a teacher , always a teacher, I guess. 

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