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9 April

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years ago

Sunday 9th AprilArabella Churchill



We had a lovely morning! Ista came and collected us at 9.30 to take us to Bada Barracks. There were about 20 children, between the ages of 4 and 13, waiting for us when we arrived, and another 15 arrived slowly as time went on. We didn't work in the Kindergarten as that was closed, it being Sunday, but in the "baila" at the Barracks.


This Barracks was more like a long line of terraced housing on stilts along a leafy countryish road, rather than lots of rows and enclosed space. It had a far more positive feel to it than the other barracks we have visited.



We started with badgemaking, and the children were thrilled with the idea, and really took pains with their badges, so that they looked really nice. They all pinned them on proudly. They were all fascinated to see the badge machine and how it worked, but there was no crowding or jostling here, and no pushing to get their badge made first - it just felt really nice. They had a lovely lady with them - I'm not quite sure what her role was, but she was great, and the children obviously liked and respected her.


While I finished making the badges, Haggis played with the children with the boomsticks and had them all hitting different parts of their bodies with the different tonal tubes and creating different notes. Then we got the parachute out and played for a bit - I got a lovely picture of the children all inside an "igloo" parachute - though of course it didn't really feel too igloo-ish in this heat! Then Haggis did his show. Ista is a splendid cheer leader, and the audience, though small, was absolutely with Haggis from the moment he entered in his dapper little suit with his suitcase. It really was a great show and the children loved it. They all queued up at the end to shake our hands and press them to their heads or lips - this always touches me enormously - I just want to cry and hug them all, and take them all home with me - but I try to maintain a stiff British upper lip. We promised we would go back and play with them again if we manage to get the big Tour together for later this year.


Back to town, and a quick lunch at the Steak House while putting yesterday's diary and pictures up onto the web, and emailing Muchtar at Muslim Aid for confirmation of the gigs they have arranged for us in Pulau Weh from next Wednesday.


A quick rest and then Dedy arrives to drive us to Linda North's Yayasan Ramjabat office where we have arranged to meet before the visit they have fixed up for us at Gampang Boro village. We stop on the way at the sugar can juice stall, which revives Haggis and hypes him up for another show. We drive to the village, with Linda and her Indonesian husband, through an area that was completely devastated by the huge inrush of sea on Boxing Day 2004. EVERYTHING was completely destroyed - every single house we see is new! There are lots of depressing ruins, but also lots of new houses being built, which is cheering. We arrive at the village, which has some new houses, but where the majority of people are living in two lines of barrack rooms - though it has to be said that these are jollier than most, thanks partly to Yayasan Lamjabat having built a great children's playground next door.


We get there about 4.30 and there are not many people around, so we start by making badges, with me working the machine precariously on the steps that lead to the balcony in front of the barrack rooms. I completely lose it authoritatively, and decide just to let them all make masses and masses of badges - so there's another job for tonight - more badge centre and badge back preparing!


Hags starts playing with the boomsticks and does a bit of juggling teaching and then gets out the 7m parachute, which there is just room for. I have handed out so many badge centres that I am still frantically making the badges up - I probably made about 250 in an hour and a quarter, with just a tiny break to ease my poor aching back and legs, as I was sitting in a very uncomfortable position on the steps to make the badges. Hags is champing at the bit to start his show now, as a decent sized audience has turned up at last. He goes into one of the rooms to change, and then shouts "Music" - I press play on the ipod and to the strains of "Sweet Georgia Brown" and Haggis emerges with his suitcase. They were a wonderful audience and thought Haggis was just the best thing since sliced bread! They laughed at his comedy, they gasped at this juggling skills - the whole village was there, probably 80 children and 120 adults - all roaring their heads off with laughter and whooping and applauding - Haggis is going to get a big head! They had a great time, and we had a great time. It is so good for families and village people to have fun together - it truly does raise morale.


Linda's brother Graham drove us back to our hotel very kindly. It was almost 7.00 p.m. and people were out wandering for the evening - these people are really wonderfully resilient when you consider what they have gone through - despite having been in 3 tsunami-affected countries and really knowing quite a lot about it all, I still really can't imagine what it must actually have been like! So frightening and horrifying, so sad, so lonely. We drive through the devastation and the new houses, and Graham and I were talking, and I wasn't really paying attention, and then suddenly, bang in front of us, in the middle of a village, there was this enormous ship, 15m wide, more than 40m long and 5 stories high. It had been swept right in - I don't think they could move it if they wanted to - it is enormous!


Anyway, a lovely morning and a lovely afternoon - we couldn't ask for a better reception for our shows or better confirmtion that what we have to offer is needed and extremely worthwhile!


Hags has just been watching Chelsea play West Ham on the telly, while I have been writing today's diary up, and in a moment we will head off to the Steak House again (not that we want or are eating steak, but because it is far the easiest place to send emails from and get the web pages up from). Then we will head back to the hotel to cut out more badge bits while watching a movie - it would be nice if it were a good movie tonight rather than a blood and gore one - fingers crossed!


NEXT MORNING: Actually we didn't get any badge bits sorted last night - we were suddenly hit by quite incredible tiredness and all we could manage was a quick wash before bed. I think it is partly the heat - but mostly, we have had (and are going to continue to have) an incredibly full timetable. Not only are we running 2 shows a day (and on a few days coming up it will be 3 shows a day) but we are rushing about meeting people and making as many contacts as we can to help us set up a bigger Tour later this year. The two jobs together are a bit much, and we are feeling the strain. I think when I set the timetable for the next Tour, we must allow more time off for the performers and workshop leaders, or they will get too tired. And if they are too tired they will get bolshy and not do such good shows! Haggis is being brilliant, but he really is very tired - he sweats so much during each show (thank goodness for the isotonic drinks we've found for him to drink after the shows!). Of course this first Tour in Aceh, because it is both a performance/workshop tour AND a general recce tour, is going to be exhausting - but I really must remember to make it a bit easier for the next Tour.

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