As was mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been to Sri Lanka recently, to do volunteer work as a teacher in the Vajira Sri Rehabilitation Children’s home in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Here’s the story, and pictures, if you click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link:
First day, arriving in Colombo, and staying at the Ranvelli beach resort. Met volunteers for another project further south in Kosgoda.
The next day we were brought to our projects. The other ones head to Kosgoda, and I was brought to the orphanage in Colombo where I would meet Nilmini (the principal of the school), her family and her friends.
The first day at the project, I didn’t have to do any teaching yet, so I met some of the people there, walked around the area, and last but not least, checked out the school and the children living there. Not all, but most of them are orphans.
I ended up playing volleyball with them, and not having enough arms to shake everybody’s hands. I think every kid, no matter how big or small tried to talk to me! They might not know a lot of English, but they sure do know how to communicate. The next morning, I had my first class, and Nilmini introduced me to the children in the class. The children and I looked at each other like: “yes, we already met…”
The first week flew by, teaching English during the day, have lunch with the students (Sri Lankan food is SPICEY!!!) , talk to as many people as I could and play volleyball with them the rest of the day. Those kids are so eager to learn new things. And they are tough and disciplined. Everyone takes his responsibility like cleaning up, fixing a fence, doing the dishes etc… The older kids also really look after the little ones.
Speaking about the little ones, I found it was very dangerous to get into the dormitory of the smaller children. They will not let you leave! When you hold up a flash card or a word before them, they scream their lungs out: DOG! DOG! ELEPHANT! ElEPHANT! RABBIT! RABBIT! etc… I didn’t have a lot of (useful) flash cards, so I drew a lot of small pictures in my notebook. Or I acted/mimed it out. And that’s where the fun really begins for them. They started to scream out animals for me to mime before I could even write them down.
The first weekend I met up with the other volunteers from Kosgoda, and we went to Kandy by train, then did some sightseeing. We saw a tea factory, a tea plantage, Kandy dances, the temple of the tooth (the tooth of buddha is one of the most sacred relics in buddhism) went to see elephants at the millenium elephant foundation, and various other things around Kandy. We ended up with a trip to Adam’s peak. We were supposed to climb up there and be at the top in the morning, but our driver never showed to pick us up in Kandy, so at midnight we had to arrange a new one, and after that we also had a traffic jam! So we were a few hours late, and wouldn’t make the sunset. We did make it as high as we could before we ran into the problem of standing in line. Adam’s peak is 2244.8 m (7360 ft) high. I think we got up to about 1800/1900 m before we got “stuck”… Better luck next time.
The second week was mostly the same, a lot of teaching and spending time with the kids afterwards. I brought a number of comic books and old gaming magazines from home that proved quite popular. They could read them, and I would play chess with some of them (and get my ass kicked at it). Then I’d let them read passages from the books out loud, and help them with their pronunciation.
Also in the second week, Shamil, the younger brother of Danushka, had his birthday. And his younger niece ( I think it was his niece) made a drawing specially for me.
The end of the second week there was no sightseeing, the other volunteers from Kosgoda were going to spend the day at the Kosgoda beach (which is MUCH nicer than mount Lavinia, no tourists and tourist hunters there). Nilmini’s family had a special ceremony and everyone was a little edgy because they were so nervous, luckily the third week everyone cooled down again.
The third week I started to get a little more familiar with the bus system in Colombo, or at least the larger hubs I had to pay attention to. So i did more sightseeing around Colombo. I was invited to join Sampath as he was driving the high priest around Colombo for business. The high priest is in charge of the entire school, and before that, he also managed the temple of the tooth in Kandy as well. He has quite a bit of humor. I have a lot of respect for the work he does.
The students had exam week, so they were pretty much preoccupied as well. I went down to Kosgoda for a day, and went sightseeing in Hikaduwa, one of the nicer southern beaches. Hikaduwa is close to Galle, which is a famous place for tourists. I also saw the Colombo museum and the zoo.
Then the weekend came again and I had to take my flight back home… I missed Sri Lanka as soon as I set foot in my own country again.
I took a lot of pictures of students, turtles, the school, playing volleyball, etc etc… I had over 600 photos to sort out, so I just compiled a bunch of them over here: