The 2,5 weeks that I spent in Sri Lanka were much more than I hoped for – I made some nice friends, learned a lot about myself, and most of all enjoyed playing and learning with and from kids.... Petra
Health and Safety
My time in Sri Lanka
Submitted by Petra - Zagreb | August 10, 2015
The 2,5 weeks that I spent in Sri Lanka were much more than I hoped for – I made some nice
friends, learned a lot about myself, and most of all enjoyed playing and learning with and from kids.
Decision to join a volunteer program abroad, and so far from my country, came like to a surprise to some. But I actually wanted to do it for a long time. I wanted to go out of my everyday life and try to do a difference not only in my community, but on a different and possibly bigger scale.
time changes easily depending of your expectations. I was investigating all possibilities, and in the end, thanks to the program that I liked and toKit's kindness and support the decision was made – I was going to go to SLVP project to Gampola, rural city south of Kandy, and join Sisters of the Blessed Virging convent and their St.Leonard's children home.
I was so excited, after more than 10 hours travelling by plane, there was another 4-5 hours ride from airport to Gampola. Kit and I got into talking about the program and other projects, the country, people...time went by very fast. A lot came like a shock to me: unbelievable moist in the air (end of May is more rainy part of the year), traffic (tuk-tuks coming from every direction), unusual plants, unusual sounds, oh-so-spicy food, but somehow I felt like home after only 2 days. All the time there I felt taken care of, Kit was checking on me, to see how is everything going.
Sisters are very well organized, days are planned, but at the same time easy going: breakfast at 7.30 am, lunch at noon and a half, tea at 4 pm, dinner at 7.30 pm. No pressure to do anything, everything works perfectly without you. But if you come with a will to be useful and helpful, you can do so much.
In the morning sisters hold preschool – an opportunity to help them with the class: give kids a hand with art, sing with them, go through English exercises. Not an easy thing to do, I really respect all the teachers in the world!, but a lot of fun. Kids are very clever and want to study. I don't have any experience with teaching, but sisters gave me instructions what to do, and it worked great! It's already helpful for them to talk to kids and learn them to pronounce some words. And when time for lunch comes, they are so cute, they all grab their bags and take out little lunch boxes – very disciplined. After preschool were free to help with any activity – somehow most of times I ended up upstairs, spending time with the smallest children. No wonder, they just get under your skin. And beware – stay there long time after.
I loved helping with their feeding, putting their clothes on after bathing, putting them to bed. They are just wonderful and appreciate even the smallest sign of attention. It made me very sad to think how little they need to put a smile on their face, how it is just not fair that they miss on life with their families...I somehow tricked myself not to think about it too much, but to try to be present in the moment and make my time here the best that I could. With my time spent with kids and with some fundraising. With help from a few friends we bought new matresses for little kids, was great to leave knowing they will have more comfortable place to sleep. We will see what else they need later on.
I was lucky with the timing, since beginning of June the children's home held their annual ceremony, as a way to say thanks to all the beneficiaries – the ceremony itself was really wonderful, all kids did their part, and practised for weeks their singing and dancing. And the preparation itself was also such a nice experience, a lot of fuss in the home, everybody working together to finish everything on time. Kids were helping with moving chairs, all happy they could be useful. We were preparing decorations from palm leaves, baloons, helping with agenda...was really wonderful to be a part of all of this.
I spent weekends to explore Sri Lanka, visited beautiful Peradenyia (once royal) botanical garden,
magnificent Sirgyria, tea plantations in Nuwara Elyia, Galle and its historical walls – wish I had more time to explore, next time I hope. I somehow feel I will be coming back to Sri Lanka.
I read in all the guides that people in Sri Lanka are very friendly, not only that but they really are the most open and kind people I have met. All of them that I met on my journey, made it a wonderful experience.
Coming back, everybody was expecting some totally new me, my friend told me she thought this
experience will change me to the bone, change my life, that I will no longer use make up or buy new
clothes...And only 3 hours after landing I went to the hairdresser :) I don't like to make big statements, so maybe this experience did change my life, I don't know. But, I am sure that it filled me with some new joy and strength.