Useful work

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Thu 15 Sep 2011 08:58

The yachties have been making themselves useful.  Now there’s a thing.  Our friend Dave at the end of the pontoon has been standing in for a locally based ex-pat who has gone home for a few months.  He has been supervising the refurbishment of some local housing where the owners are in no position to do the work themselves.  Walls have been repaired, bathrooms fixed and roofs made watertight but now the money has run out before the builders have reached the decoration stage.  Volunteers were called for and some of us remembered doing this sort of thing in the past – in some cases the distant past.   Our client was a single mother with three children.  Her ex-husband had only to visit the mosque and declare “I divorce you” three times and the deed was done, but there are certain checks and balances here and because there are young children our client was left in possession of the family home.  However, it was in a sorry state.  Cometh the hour, cometh the yachties.  Six of us set off one morning with sealer, paint, rollers, brushes and assorted paraphernalia, including sandwiches, Mars bars and isotonic drinks.  We arrived ahead of schedule, moved motorbikes, racks of shoes, bags of surplus cement, dormant frogs and furniture and set to it.  In a previous life Dave managed millions of money and thousands of people so the day ran smoothly, but it was a long day and a tiring one.  At the close there were some pretty tears of gratitude (our client had been astonished to learn that she was allowed to pick her own colour scheme) and feelings of satisfaction within the team.  We had done a fair job and made a real difference.  A contented group staggered to the showers (it had been a very hot and humid day and we were all drenched), on to the Hard Dock and thence to welcome bunks. 
The charitable group responsible for this work is run by ex-pats, mainly very respectable ladies, and some local people who have all been doing their bit for some years.  They named their organisation the “Butterfly Club”.  This was fine until new regulations designed to reduce the risk of financial and other shenanigans, not uncommon in these parts, required that all articles, rules and official documents in English should be accompanied by a Malay translation.  It was now discovered that in translation the “Butterfly Club” was rendered “Club for Prostitutes”.  The ladies had a rapid re-think.  Trying to run a business-like organisation is hard enough without additional causes of mirth and misunderstanding.  Ladies are not highly esteemed here as business persons, the glass ceiling is situated just above the lino, and it is very difficult to persuade local builders and suppliers to take any notice of them at all.
There are other houses to be done but as yet no money.  The building work has been funded up to now by generous donations from local hoteliers and businessmen but trade has dropped off, times are hard.....  Appeals for funds have been made and once these have born fruit the Rebak Painters are ready to swing into action again.
Between times we have had another prolonged spell of rain and fierce squalls.  Boats have come in with tales to tell and those of us who have remained snug have thanked our lucky stars that we have had no call to venture out.  Even so awnings have ripped, mooring lines parted, genoas unrolled in the middle of the night and, in our case, a little folding stool we used to assist climbing on board has blown away and sunk.  We loved that little stool and miss it sorely.
Under close supervision
Under close supervision
Living room transfomed
Small apprentice
A young neighbour lends a hand.
Spotty motley crew
A spotty, motley crew with the family at the end of the day.