9 August 2013

Sri Lanka story Part 1:Trincomalee

Just letting the dust settle on my very fast journey to Sri Lanka after a 7 year absence. I returned home 3 weeks ago with a mind swimming full of possiblities for how the future may look for me and my Sri Lankan friends.

As mentioned in the previous post about Cambodia, much of my trip to Sri Lanka forms chapters of my book.Some I have written, many factors I am still mulling over and not sure how to tell my story.

Afterall, the book starts with Sri Lanka in 2004 and my challenge is to craft and weave that story through to today. And it’s not an easy story to tell to be quite honest. The journey of writing down these stories is far harder than I expected.

Reuniting with Bruno and Fr Jeevanadas

Well it was truly a lovely few days in Trincomalee, full of heart, laughter and sharing. The three of us have certainly moved on in our lives since 2006 and it was with great respect that Fr Jeevanadas, Bruno and I shared our stories, our personal journeys that have led us to different places in our lives.

Trincomalee and the people of that town, and the Tsunami is what brought us together for that time in 2005-2006. Returning to Trinco, we are all visitors and those we worked with those years ago have moved on.

Usually behind the scenes – I’m a thrust into the limelight a little more than I am comfortable with. My hope of sneaking into town and having a few discreet meetings is not the way it’s going to pan out. We announced like royalty and greeted like family. We are special guests here, honoured guest there and extraordinary lunches are served, with tea, sweet drinks and iceream treats. This is the overwhelming kindness and generosity of Sri Lankan culture and community.

And, as serendipity would have it – we’ve timed our visit just perfectly and there are some special events and celebrations that mean that Fr Jeevanadas is also re-connecting with the commmunities he served for many years. The school’s leaving do is on and the boys who are graduating from highschool, Fr J has seen right through from the Kindergarten. The girls school where we helped the girls in the ophanage is having it’s grand exhibition day so we are lucky to see all the hardwork, creativity, heart and humour that went into their puppet shows, plays, dioramas, dress-ups and performances.

I am also taken to the tsunami settlements where people are happy to talk about their experiences during and after the tsunami. Hearing their personal stories and finding out about how desperate their lives are today is truly heartbreaking. And it shines a light on some of the reasons why Sri Lankans are taking the risk of getting on boats and leaving for Australia – from Trincomalee.

There’s more to this story than I expected.

A hearty, warm thank you to Fr Jeevanadas Fernando for coming back to Trincomalee and introducing me back into town. Another heart-felt thank you to the Sisters and Fathers who embraced (yet again) this strange girl with the unpronouncable name for a reason they didn’t really understand.

PS: Zue Lio it isn’t – yet that’s ok. You pronouce it “Sooosoooosooo” – same way you do when you are trying to hurry the chickens on. (hurry,hurry).


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