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7 April

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years ago

Friday 7 April


Chaotic journey to Darul MuttaquinArabella Churchill


A quick rush to the hotel internet office to check my emails and then our taxi arrives at 8.30 to take us to an Amurt gig at Darul Muttaquin Religious School. Doug of Amurt arrives to lead the way on this motorbike. A chaotic journey - it is difficult to keep in convoy, as the traffic is all over the place! The school is right out in the country, about 10k from the town of Banda Aceh.


This school, like the one we visited so successfully for Muslim Aid on the 5th (despite there being very small numbers, the students had a great time and really enjoyed the badge-making and juggling workshops, and they really loved Haggis's show) is another small traditional religious boarding hostel for orphans and children from very poor families. It seems to be for boys only, and when we arrive, it all seems very subdued and not entirely welcoming. About 20 students make badges and then about 10 join Haggis's juggling workshop and then come and play parachute football with me. But when we set up the show, we cannot get any of them to come and sit down to watch - some of them watch from a distance, and some just disappear - it's really strange.


What went wrong?


Amurt had rung and asked if they wanted us to come, and they had apparently said "Yes" - yet no one really seems to want to play. One problem could be that it is Friday and they go to the Mosque at 12.00 noon, but our session was going to run from 9-11, so that should have been OK. Maybe they are just a much more serious traditional religious school - I ask Doug to try and find out what went wrong, as it was all a bit flummoxing and distressing.


Haggis battles bravely on with the show, at my urging, and despite his better judgement, even managing to do his club routine without the accompanying music (which we had been asked to turn really low, and which was then disrupted by a power cut, or possibly turned off by the powers that be because they do not approve of music?) and eventually he really has to stop as it really is quite impossible to do a show without an audience!


Particularly strict


We summon our taxi back by phone and leave at about 10.30 feeling rather sad. Doug from Amurt rings later to say that he has asked around, and that this morning's school is meant to be particularly strict. I think that, and the fact that a couple of the older boys disapproved and put off the younger boys, is what accounted for our difficulties this morning. Not the best choice of venue perhaps. We feel a bit depressed, but luckily we have a wonderful afternoon session that cheers us up enormously!


Our afternoon session is at Al-Manar Daya School for about 250 boys, and has been set up by Muslim Aid. Again the school is quite a long way out of town, and as there are so many students, we can only do the show, not workshops - so we ask our nice new taxi driver, Dedy, to wait for us - our transport costs are quite a lot higher than I was hoping - though less than if we were paying 500,000 Rupiahs per day for a car and driver. Half a million rupiahs is about £35 per day, which really is rather too much - we are probably having to spend between £15 and £25 a day on days we have to go to 3 different places. Hey ho! Maybe it's the free lorry for us next time?!


How to start?


We arrive at the school, and the man whose contact name we were given is sadly ill. So again, we all hover, humming and hawing incomprehensively. We are standing in a big hallway, surrounded by boys, and Haggis demonstrates a few hat tricks which has them laughing away. Eventually we say, "Show?" Someone says, "Now?" We say, "Yes, where?" and the mob moves fast and furiously into a nearby hall, with us close behind them. Oh, dear, a teacher is setting out chairs as though we are in for a formal question and answer session - we head to the other end of the hall, and while Hags goes off to change (can't ever be done in public here) I am left struggling, as usual, with the ipod and the speakers. I succeed, and get "Sweet Georgia Brown" playing and Hags enters in his red and black suit, that, remarkably, still looks absolutely immaculate despite the amount of sweat that has been sweated into it. A great show - the audience are with Hags from the first moment, and it is riotous and brilliant. What a relief after this morning's show!


We'll meet again


Hags does the fire ending to the show outside on the field, and then there is indeed a question and answer session. I pack up the props and sound system, and leave Haggis to do all the talking - and he does it well. Several of the children express interest in having a juggling workshop, so we say we will come back and visit them again on this trip if time allows. We will certainly ensure that this school is included in our tour later this year, as they were a wonderful audience and got a lot out of it all.


Incredibly tired


Went to the County Steak House again, as they have internet connection (though it is very slow, and we can't do it from our laptop as they don't like Apple, but you can hire a computer) and have a very frustrating time trying to get pictures up onto the web and send off more information letters to NGO. Land up having a tiff and being upset with each other - surprising it hasn't happened before really, as we are incredibly tired from working so hard. I've logged up 15 hours a day the last 3 days. I haven't had time to read a book and we haven't played a single game of our favourite "Carcassonne"! Oh well, I'm sure it will all feel better in the morning!







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