James Sudder - Care & Community in Sri Lanka
My project started on a rainy day in England, early in the morning, in a cold airport, stood with seven other students and four teachers. It was at this moment I realised how much of an amazing time we were all going to have in the next two weeks as we travelled to Sri Lanka. After two long flights we landed in Colombo the capital of Sri Lanka and were promptly met by Heather one of the brilliant Projects Abroad staff who we would be spending most of the next two weeks with.
From the airport we were taken straight to our accommodation where we were introduced to the owner and staff of the small but well-kept hostel. We were very well looked after here, the beds were comfy and food was incredible. Overall our experience at the hostel was great and we always felt very well looked after. For our first weekend we settled in, learning simple fraises, eating local food and getting to know the people we would be spending a lot of our time with!
My placement at Sri Sambuddaloka
For the two weeks we were in Sri Lanka, we spent our week days in a small kindergarten; the school was located in a very small beautiful Buddhist temple, we were greeted at the temple by the three teachers and all of the children that attended the school. Everyone was extremely excited when we arrived at the school, the children gave us small handmade gifts and welcomed us into their single class room. We were all given a drink of Kaluda, a strange but very nice drink that had ice-cream and jelly in it, the teachers then introduced themselves and then the children showed us some Sri Lankan games and songs. For the rest of that day we got to know the children and staff by playing games and having a lot of fun!
For the rest of the two weeks we spent the mornings in the school playing with parachutes, making mask, reading stories, learning Sri Lankan games, teaching some basic English and just having loads of fun! We taught English by playing simple games such as head, shoulders, knees and toes to teach body parts and creating animals out of paper plates and naming them in both Sri Lankan and English. We all had so much fun playing with and teaching the children, we learnt so much even though we were the ones meant to be teaching it often felt like the younger children where teaching us.
In the afternoons we painted the school building, both inside and out, this was always very rewarding as the parents and teachers that helped us always looked so happy with what we had done. We painted a small mural on the back wall to help brighten up the hall. When we finished all the painting we all felt so proud of our work and it was great seeing how much of a difference it made for the children, teachers and parents.
The wonderful views of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful country’s I have been to! We spent most of our evenings exploring the city of Colombo, it was very different to any city I had visited before, there’s a mix of very new and modern buildings and old huge Buddhist temples. We visited many of the temples varying from very old quiet temples with huge golden statues to busy temples filled with young school children all eager to learn.
The markets in Colombo always seemed to be packed with people, the smells of all the fresh spices and the extremely bright colours of the freshly picked fruits where a great treat after working on the project. One of the best days we had was when we went to the turtle sanctuary! Here we got to hold three day old turtles and we learnt a lot about how the locals are trying their hardest to protect them!
On our middle weekend we travelled to central Sri Lanka to Kandy, this was a very different city to Colombo, the city was full of very old but colourful buildings, huge gardens and a very peaceful lake. Here we experience a lot of cultural things including classical Sri Lankan dancing and singing, we went to the temple of the tooth where the Buddha’s tooth is kept, we went round the very colourful markets and streets and took a lot of photos of the very beautiful city.
After spending two weeks in Sri Lanka I wasn’t looking forward to leaving! I had such a great time in the beautiful country. On our last evening we got to say goodbye to all the Projects abroad staff we had met during the two weeks. I can’t thank the staff enough they made sure we all had such an amazing time whilst in Sri Lanka, we were so well looked after and I would always recommend projects abroad for anyone who is looking to do any sort of volunteering!
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.