Mario Ortiz Casado from Spain volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in July, 2017.
Thimira Bandara from The United States of America volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in July, 2017.
“Being born in Sri Lanka but getting an education in America, I consider myself lucky because due to some sort of miracle I was given a good education with endless opportunities, but I believe there is no point of having the knowledge I gained from my studies if I wasn’t able to share it. When I was notified that I would be able to go to Sri Lanka for a research, I made it a priority that someway somehow I would be able to share my knowledge with those who do not have the same opportunities as me.
My experience with the Horizon Lanka Foundation was a wonderful one as I got to spend time teaching children some of the basics of Microsoft Office. I only stayed for two days, but in those two days I believe the kids at the Horizon Academy, Tantirimale enjoyed our stay and learned a lot. I strongly believe in giving back to one’s community and I am appreciative that Horizon Lanka made that possible.
For the most part, communicating with the students wasn’t too bad because I was able to speak a decent amount of Sinhalese, enough to keep a basic conversation going, but sometimes I did find myself having a hard time explaining certain things. Thankfully my cousin, who lives in Sri Lanka, had joined us and was able to translate the things I wasn’t able to communicate.
I wished I had planned a more constructive lesson plan because at times I noticed the kids were feeling a little bored. Part of this was because I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t know what the knowledge level the students have. For future references, maybe the classes can be organized better with a set schedule. Not only will this make it easier for volunteers but it will also teach the children about organization and time management. This is often implemented in western schools because it provides necessary skills needed in the workplace. However next time we come I will be sure to come more prepared and create a more impactful lesson plan that I believe will give the students maximum benefit.
Currently, I am planning on organizing a pen pal event with the kids at our local temple. They will be able to email the students at Tantirimale in English back and forth and create relationships with the students. Hopefully, I can get more Sri Lankan kids here in the US involved to help their fellow brothers and sisters.
Overall, our stay was wonderful; there were a plenty of activities to do in Tantirimale. My cousin especially liked bathing in the river while I thought the view from the top of the rock was breathtaking. Tantirimale is a very beautiful location and everyone there was very nice. This experience has been an eye-opener for me as it has taught me not to take what I have for granted and to always do what I can do for others. The goal is to get more of my Sri Lankan peers here in the United States to also get involved and also make a difference in these kids’ lives.”
Thimira Bandara – The United States of America
Pramodhya Umayagani is a student in Grade 8 at Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya. She is a bright student in all the subjects, sports and fine arts. Time to time, her family hosts foreign volunteers who come to teach at Horizon Academy. The family has so far hosted American, Swiss, Hong Kong volunteers in the past and now they host a lady teacher from the Czech Republic. All the volunteers who stayed at Pramodhya’s house were very happy about the way the family treated them. So, the current volunteer who spends time at Pramodhya’s house, Ms. Sylva Tillova from the Czech Republic, gifted a brand new Samsung Galaxy J1 Nxt smartphone worth 12,000 LKR (78.21 USD) to Pramodhya and her family. Horizon Lanka thanks Ms. Sylva Tillova for the generosity displayed.
You might wonder why a 13-year-old girl needs a smartphone. Here at Horizon Academy, we teach the children how to communicate effectively, search for information from the Internet, take pictures and videos, etc. We also want to start a m-earning pilot with the smartphones. The next question you would ask is why we spend money on smartphones at a time the families in the village struggle with the problems of water and food due to the drought. Our answer is that there are a lot of people who are working on those lines. At Horizon Lanka, we pay our attention to education and entertainment (edutainment.) We do not get carried away with the temporary conditions in the village. Even during the 3 decade long civil war in Sri Lanka, we never even mentioned anything about the terrorist attacks to the village. Grownup people worked on protecting the village and our students kept their focus on education. By the time the war ended in May 2009, almost all the former 500+ students and the youth ended up in good jobs. If we kept harping on the war without educating the children, our children also would have ended up working in armed forces and garment factories like the rest of the youths in villages like ours. Even during the worst parts of the war Horizon Lanka continued its academic activities and provided new technology such as mobile coverage and free Wi-Fi mesh network and lunching a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) project. So, we will keep focusing on education even during this drought.
Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya partnered with Gamini Vidyalaya, a small pubic school in Mahawilachchiya to teach English and ICT subjects totally free of charge during their month-long August summer vacation. We expect to teach English and ICT to them using both local and foreign volunteers. So, if any local volunteers or groups are ready to volunteer at least during your weekends, please contact us. We have also planned to organize a prize giving ceremony at the start of September to encourage the students to learn these two very valuable subjects. So, you can help us by providing story books, stationery, school supplies, movie and educational DVDs, USB flash drives, used mobile phones, used tabs, used laptops and used desktops and other ICT related peripherals that will help their learning. (We need mobile phones to start an m-learning pilot programs.)
Please contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org or Mobile 01 Local: 077-7702678 (Mobile 01 IDD : 0094-77-7702678) Mobile 02 Local: 071-8508537 (Mobile 02 IDD: 0094-71-8508537)