Week 1 Roundup
After our day 1 visit to the centre where we saw the issues these girls face and how they’re currently living, it was quickly to work; during phase 1 we only have 3.5 weeks and we want to achieve as much as possible!
Our goal for phase one is improving the girls’ living and working conditions through cleaning, refurbishment, and provision of improved lighting, plumbing, and furnishings. So – week 1 – what did we achieve?
We’ve negotiated contracts with a local decorating firm, plumber, and a carpenter. These are all Sri Lankan locals as we believe strongly in giving back to the community we’re involved with. That being said, we have negotiated excellent rates and the contractors are happy to give us a little extra for a little less as they know the cause they’re helping!
An interesting challenge for the team was that, on top of the language barrier and need for a translator, our carpenter is also deaf-mute. Thankfully technology can help a lot these days, and that means we can still give work to a local with a vested interest in the project rather than looking further afield.
All of our contractors have agreed to complete their work by the 24th March, giving us time after they’ve finished up to add the finishing touches.
All the main materials we need for fixing and decorating the main building have now been acquired – e.g. paint for all rooms, light fittings, and so on. We’ve bought all of these from local businesses here in Kandy, and again we have negotiated good prices for the charity!
We can’t take credit for this other than buying some boxes – but the House Mothers and girls have all done a fantastic job of clearing out the spaces we’re working on. We have encouraged them to really be a bit brutal with their clearing out (Marie Kondo eat your heart out!) and remove anything that’s no longer useful or sentimental. Lots of old scraps of material, photocopies of who-knows-what, and broken bits and pieces were removed and taken to the scrap yard.
Our resident tech-head Claire also reviewed their computer situation; while the large photocopier and one of the PC base units were a no, there were still several computer bits in good working order and we were able to put together one full working computer. We hope to have the chance to teach some of the House Mothers about using these before we leave!
All of the windows downstairs including hallways and stairwells, plus one room upstairs, have been sanded, filled and varnished.
Walls have been filled, and painting has commenced in the nursery and downstairs workroom. We’ve also stencilled new designs onto the walls in the hallway, ready to be painted in soon.
Do you remember the huge stack of once-colourful children’s chairs from Day 1? The girls have been helping us get these sanded and ready for repainting. Everyone mucked in, and we even enjoyed a sing-song while we worked! The top image on this page shows all the girls working hard on these.
The electrician who has previously helped on site has walked Nick, our electrical specialist, through the current situation. We’ve also completed our own thorough review of the site, with all the groundwork now established.
The outlook is better than we’d hoped! While many of the fans and lights were being used when we arrived, this was often because they were missing or had dead bulbs, or the switch on the wall was busted. We even found that the upstairs workroom (which has no fans installed) does have working fan switches wired in; so all that’s needed are the actual fans.
All the light fixtures have been removed ready for new ones to be installed, and the fans taken down for a 2-in-1 effort to clean them and prep the ceiling for painting.
There were also a number of loose, dangerous wires throughout the building which have now been made safe for the girls.
On top of this, Nick had the fun task of discovering just how many gecko eggs can be hidden in one ceiling!
With the girls’ help, vases, pots and stones have been painted in bright, happy colours ready to place around the site.
We’ve planted herbs like chilli and curry leaf in the garden which can be used for cooking for years to come, and we’re teaching the girls how to look after them.
And while not so instagrammable, the toughest and most important task has been making sure the area is safe and hospitable. Rusty spikes have been pulled from the ground, and uneven rocks levelled.
We’ve now started on some nice seating for the garden area, so that they can begin to enjoy their outside space and avoid being cooped up inside every day.
The educational programme has now been defined for the girls, and we start imminently! We’ll be teaching them English and self defence skills – more to follow soon.
What else do we need?
Finally, we’ve spent quality time with all of the girls and really understand what they’re missing now. We’ll be publishing a list of everything they need and looking to get prices on each, so you can be clear exactly where your money is going.