Posted Thursday January 29, 2015 by Hazel Durbridge

As I mentioned in my Cameroon blog this week, I am not that keen on taking photos of people as it draws attention to yourself, and I don’t like pictures being taken of me, so it was hard to find a photo to illustrate clothes and the sort of thing I wore.  This is a picture of the young women at the orphanage I am trying to get readers to support!

I have just travelled to Colombo through the night as the bus I was going to take during the day today was cancelled. As usual, they were so helpful. We arrive in Colombo about 4am, pitch black sprawling suburban shanty town mass and the two drivers who don’t speak any English are ringing up the landlady (I am mortified at the time) to check where they should drop me off. Anyway, I am at the guest house and will have a sleep and a shower.

Clothes. I came with one suitcase including 2 laptops and my favourite creams and potions and things like pegs, a plastic clothes line, a vegetable peeler, silly things that were hard to get in Cameroon. I think I brought too many thin jumpers because it does not get cold at night here. I took more smart clothes to Cameroon and actually people dress smarter here. I don’t go native which seems to be a VSO thing for the women to do. I think I would look ridiculous. I don’t have the colouring. I am a totally different shape to African or Sri Lankan women. I hate lurid designs mainly. I can wear whatever I want and get away with it because I am a minority and I do. I find it liberating. I dress like a hippy. I am clean and I iron my clothes and at work I cover up. I don’t buy loads of clothes. I brought everything in my wardrobe that was cotton, linen or silk – silk is not good – very light to carry, but you sweat too much for it here. As it wears out or I don’t think it is right, I use a local tailor and have things made into something else.  I am having two strappy dresses made into tunics at the moment. Strappy is not Sri Lankan. They expose backs and waists. One of my wrap round skirts I am having the edges sewn together and elastic put in the waist because I can’t ride the bike and have it flashing my knickers. I improvise and when I leave I’ll give it all away as it will be too tatty and unfashionable to wear in England.

The vaccine is a nightmare. I went to the hospital today and they would not give me the booster because the make is different. I have an appointment to see some vaccine specialist tomorrow.

Thomas the lovely cook in the guest house has gone, not sacked, just upped and left probably because Mrs Slap Slap is too bossy. The food is OK, but not as nice. Already I miss the lagoon and my bike and all the friendly faces in Batticaloa – all the people who smile and say ‘good morning’ or ‘how are you Auntie? ‘ – not so keen on that one, but not to be faulted for its respectfulness! I am probably going to have to miss Saturday night out with other volunteers because it looks like I can only travel at night and I need to be in work early on Monday for Mrs Preggers my translator to go and look at sanitation systems or rice fields. Actually, you know what, I don’t mind. I’d rather sleep off the journey on my fab beach with the crows on Sunday afternoon. Total Ms Introvert.

I have just read Mr Slap Slap’s English paper. There was a huge article with pictures about the hats women were wearing at Maggie Thatcher’s funeral. How weird is that? They are also very angry about international comments on their human rights abuses and are writing long stories about the atrocities of those LTTE ‘ terrorists’.


Brandix have been operating a garment factory in Batticaloa town for the last 10 months. They have 30 factories in Sri Lanka, but this is the first one in the East. They employ 750 people on two shifts – 6am-2pm and 2pm-10pm paying 15-16,000Rs a month. The staff are provided with a free breakfast and teatime snack. They also have a visiting doctor from Batticaloa Teaching Hospital on site twice a week and a full-time nurse. They have been recruiting approximately 60 workers a month (mainly aged 20-30 as older workers do not have the speed) and training them to build up their team. At the moment they have 400 machines, but they would like to take it up to 1,000 in the district. In 1-2 years if the factory is a success, they hope to build another the same size at Kokkaddicholai. They are aware that rural women would travel to work, but need accommodation. They have operated hostels in the west before, but these were problematic in terms of looking after the moral wellbeing of young women and they would not wish to do this as part of their business.

Batticaloa District Development Plan DRAFT 2013



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